Ask RC: What should I do when feeling completely overwhelmed?
What should I do when feeling completely overwhelmed, with a “to do” list as long as the
Matterhorn is high, while wanting only to pull the bed covers over my head?
Three things. The first is to give thanks. Like most clichés, this one became a cliché because it is a powerful and pithy truth- I cried for having no shoes, until I met a man with no legs. This does not mean that all of us should find one person who is having a harder time than we are, and all of us, save one, the winner of the Job of the Moment award, would perk up. And when the winner loses his title for some other Job, he can begin to cheer up. Rather it reminds us that we all have much for which we should be grateful. Being joyful for what we have doesn’t tempt us to rest on our laurels, but motivates us to act, to get up and fulfill our calling. If we are in Christ and are ungrateful, we are being blinded.
Which brings us to the second thing we ought to do- repent and believe the gospel. We should in fact be ashamed when we are overcome with that “pull the sheets over our head” feeling. Jesus told us that His yoke is easy, His burden light. When we are feeling overwhelmed we are calling Him a liar. Having faced our failure, having entered into our shame, however, we move quickly to believing the gospel. Jesus died for our shameful feelings. He died for our calling Him a liar. And He not only forgives us, but loves us with an everlasting love. He knows everything there is to know about us, including those sins we can’t even face ourselves, and still, He loves us.
This, of course, brings us back to step one. That is, as we believe the gospel, we once again must give thanks.
The last step is as simple and easy as the first two-I must do the first thing on my list. When it is done, I must do the next thing on our list. Of course, when we give thanks, when we repent and believe the gospel, we notice a few things about our list. It begins to shrink. What we discover is that the more we are persuaded that we have all that we could ever want or imagine in Christ Jesus we discover we don’t need to do this or do that to try to satisfy our souls.
All that ought to remain on our list is loving our neighbors. That may mean doing dishes, or folding laundry, but when we do these chores we are actually loving our neighbors. We are serving them.
Since my wife passed I am constantly asked how I am doing. I am so grateful for people’s concerns. The truth is I do have a long to-do list, even without my honey making me honey-do lists. I also feel the weight of the sorrow of missing her that beckons me to spend the day in bed. I can’t, however, curl up in a ball because of my life’s work. I have eight children to care for, children who miss their mom every bit as much as do. For all my sadness over the loss of my wife, I yet have what we have made, by His grace, together, these precious children. They need their dad more than I need a day in bed. In loving, in serving them, my wounds begin to heal and I am reminded I am not a man without shoes looking at children without feet. I am instead the richest man in the world, because of the children who are my, and His heirs. Give thanks. Repent. Believe the gospel. And get to work.