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Motherhood, Truth

When Life Overwhelms

I’d like to think I’m one of those Moms who can wake up every morning with a joyful spirit, sit and read to my children for hours, play make believe whenever they want, do the laundry, make a great meal, manage our home, and still have time to chat with friends, workout and decorate my house in a seasonally appropriate way.

I’m not one of those Moms.

My heart struggles to rejoice and my tongue often reflects that with angry tones and harsh words to my children.

As I write this, dirty clothes are literally spilling out of the laundry room into the hall.

Last week all of my toilets had thick black rings in them.

I got a new phone this summer and still haven’t moved my contacts over, so when I do receive texts or calls from friends, I have no idea who they are from as only the number shows up.  So I reply in generic terms to texts, trying to guess who it is that has sent me a message. Great friend that I am, huh?  And so much for phones that are supposed to be smart.

I forget to do things, frequently.  Like two weeks ago when I came home from Costco and Bradley said, “Did you see any utility trucks outside?  Are they doing construction somewhere?  We have no water pressure.”   That fine print at the bottom of your water bill saying they’ll cut the water off if you don’t pay?  They mean it.  Especially when you haven’t paid in two months.

Yesterday, I went out with the girls to get a few things and by the time I got to the store I couldn’t even remember why I had gone or what was so important to buy that day that I rearranged our schedule and had to go.

I feel like I’m being buried under a huge mass:  my life.

People have asked me, “What’s it like with four kids?”  I usually reply, “Oh, it’s fine. We’re doing good.”  But Bradley called my bluff the other day when someone asked and he chimed in and said, “It’s hard.”

He’s right.  I feel stretched, confused, scatterbrained, frustrated, and yes, overwhelmed.

This isn’t the first time in my life I’ve felt this way, though, so I don’t really think it is because I have four children. I was overwhelmed when I graduated from college, got married, had my first child {I loved reading this post about that}, and found out that Mason had Down Syndrome. It’s just that anytime our life circumstances change, we must learn to juggle the new, whatever it may be, and learn to rearrange our hearts, minds, and daily activities to accommodate it.

So, what do we do when life overwhelms?

The temptation is to either seek pity or a pat on the back from those around us.  We bombard our Facebook statuses with updates about how challenging our life is, or we list out all the things we accomplished in a brief 24 hour period, hoping that someone will comment and tell us how great we are for all those things we did and for bearing up under the pressures of difficulty.  We tend to direct attention to ourselves.

And, then we compare ourselves with others when we catch a glimpse of their lives.  We hear someone’s complaint and think, “Oh, that’s not that bad.  They should see what I have to deal with everyday.”  Or, we might think, ” I shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by what’s going on in my life because they have it so much harder.”

The truth of the matter is that each of us faces overwhelming issues.  Life is hard and our days can be busy.  This looks different for each of us, but there is one thing that is the same:

God is not overwhelmed by any of it.

During the opening of our service at church on Sunday, one of our pastors said, “Nothing overwhelms the King.”

I needed to hear that.  No matter how crushed or floundering I may be, God remains stable, a Rock.  He knows what’s happened, what’s happening right now, and what is to come, and He is not overwhelmed by any of it.

If I can take my overwhelmed heart and mind to Him and rely upon Him, He will graciously carry me through the moments, days, and seasons of feeling overwhelmed.

How do I cultivate the right attitude in the midst of feeling overwhelmed?

I need to strive to glorify God and point others to Him, not to myself or to my struggles.

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory.” {Psalm 115:1}

If I simply make it through a day, it’s only by God’s grace and strength.

If I accomplish anything on my to-do list, it’s only by His power.

If I’m struggling, I need to admit it and seek the prayers and encouragement of those around me.

Let’s be sure that as we face life’s overwhelming flood that we are relying upon the stable Rock to carry and enable us.  And, let’s be quick to point each other to God’s powerful grace when we see another floundering.

When my life overwhelms, please, don’t give me pity or a pat on the back.  Pray for me.  Encourage me.  And, please, point me to Jesus.

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17 Comments

  • Reply Mindy

    Oh man, I was sooooo feeling you throughout this post. We only (only, hahahahaha) have three kids, so it’s not quite the crazy of four, but these last few weeks have felt like crazy town. Summer’s over, school has started (2nd grade, kindergarten, and baby still at home), our kitchen has been torn up in a full-on gut remodel since June, and with all that extra stuff, the chores and life of a SAHM still goes on. It’s definitely overwhelming at times. And there’s definitely more screaming and yelling than there should be. From me. The next time I feel my blood boiling, or I’m looking at the disaster in my house, or I’m wanting to kill the kids for one reason or another, I’m going to remember this post. Thank you for writing it.

    September 12, 2013 at 2:31 pm
    • Reply Lauren

      Even in the busyness and chaos we have a God who remains calm. I hope you can have a restful weekend!

      September 13, 2013 at 11:06 am
  • Reply Anonymous

    thanks for your post Lauren, I enjoyed reading it!. I would also say when a full time job outside the home is added in the mix as well, its very challenging!. However, I find following the flylady’s routines have helped me enormously!.
    God bless you
    Helen in the UK

    September 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm
    • Reply Lauren

      I can’t even imagine adding a job outside the home! May you trust in the Lord for strength today to fulfill all your roles!

      September 13, 2013 at 11:06 am
  • Reply Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing the truths that you have learned. How true that “nothing overwhelms the King.” Oh, that I too would cultivate a heart that trusts in Him. God has blessed you to know that He is God. Your words are greatly appreciated. Yes! To God be the glory.

    September 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm
    • Reply Lauren

      Prayed for you just now to have trust in Him fully today!

      September 13, 2013 at 11:07 am
  • Reply DEL

    Tracy,

    There is an old saying that says, “When you are up to your armpits in alligators, it’s hard to remember your objective was to drain the swamp!” That’s how our lives are at times, especially when you have four kids and one is a special needs person. I wish I had some pat answer for you, but unfortunately I don’t, besides, as you say, you have heard all the “answers”.

    Being a mom is one of the most important jobs in the world! It is also one of the hardest. Most babies, DON’T come with instruction manuals. But, in addition to being one of the hardest jobs, it is one of the most rewarding. We have two adult children and four adult grandchildren who prove that point.

    I may be on thin ice with this next statement, but that’s never stopped me before. The feminist movement have put forward the idea that you “can have it all”, whatever that means and if a person isn’t “having it all” they feel there is something wrong with them, when, in fact, there IS NO problem. “Having it all” just seems to mean overloaded.

    You are not alone in all this. We have a couple hundred Facebook “friends” who are GCS graduates and if there is one thing we have learned from them and our own experience, it is this: We get overloaded and discouraged. I don’t need to “preach” anything, because you did that in your blog above. Just know there are people praying for you.

    One other thing: This long after our GCS senior trip experiences, we forget who was in which class and who their classmates were. After all it was a while ago, we were on 17 consecutive trips, and we’re OLD!! 😉 We have been reading Eva Wagenschutz Carr’s blog on Facebook. I don’t know if you know Eva because, like I said, I don’t remember how far apart you were in school. She and her husband adopted two little special needs Oriental children recently. The little girl needed surgery and didn’t live through it. I would like to encourage you to “friend” Eva, if you haven’t already, read her blog, and get in contact with her. I’m sure you could be a blessing to each other.

    God bless you and your family and as you said in your blog, “let’s be quick to point each other to God’s powerful grace when we see another floundering.”

    Don & Carol Lauderbaugh

    September 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm
    • Reply Lauren

      Thank you for your note. I don’t know Eva, could you send me the link to her blog?

      September 13, 2013 at 11:11 am
  • Reply Jilayne

    Amen! Thank you for sharing your heart!

    September 12, 2013 at 10:54 pm
  • Reply Jessica @ This Blessed Life

    Lauren I LOVE this post! I could have written it – the only reason our water hasn’t been turned off is because my husband is in charge of the bills, thank God! I have half as many kids as you and still feel like I’m drowning, most days!

    September 13, 2013 at 12:48 am
  • Reply Elizabeth (Lizzie)

    Wow! So well put and I don’t have 4 children, I don’t have any children and I get myself overwhelmed and in this day and age of facebook and such it is so easy compare ourselves to others.
    Thank you for sharing and being real and transparent!

    September 13, 2013 at 5:33 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    Lauren, this post is an encouragement! Thank you! I’m a blessed, exhausted, overwhelmed, mom-of-four-littles too and identified in many ways. 😉 When I clicked your “about” link and saw the pictures, you looked familiar. . . Lauren M. W.? I think you went to high school with my brother Caleb? Something about China too. And are related by marriage to Josh & Heidi and Mike & Michelle (know them from Heritage – our church). Small world. 🙂

    Julia P. G.

    September 13, 2013 at 7:54 pm
    • Reply Lauren

      Yes, I did go to school with Caleb and Lydia. Josh and Michelle are my husband’s cousins. Thanks for your comment. Praying right now that God will give you strength today and fill you with His power to point people to Jesus in all your roles.

      September 14, 2013 at 11:21 am
  • Reply Steph

    Can I just say, I feel like you read my mind and wrote it down on your blog. Glad to know I am not alone. It’s hard.

    September 14, 2013 at 7:14 pm
  • Reply julie gentino

    Oh my goodness, thank you for your honesty! And I have to laugh as one who had our water turned off the weekend we moved in for the same reason! Yes. Lately God has been showing me how often I seek sympathy and affirmation (esp from my husband) to help get me through the week–and it’s never enough, is it? Also He’s teaching me that I just can’t do it all. Saying “yes” to some things, like for me homeschooling, means saying “no” to others, like serving our church plant as much. So hard. But when I let go and focus on doing the couple things God has called me to first, I feel this sense of peace and rest in the chaos, and I get to see the way He provides other people to be strong in areas I’m weak. Saying a prayer for you right now friend!

    September 15, 2013 at 12:56 am
  • Reply .

    Thank you for your transparency. More Mamas need to hear that its normal to feel overwhelmed. I could have written this post 2 yrs ago. I had friends saying how easy 4 kids was and the more the merrier, etc. while I was drowning under the daily to-dos with four kids, homeschooling, house and a husband that worked long hours. Keep talking, keep sharing, keep asking for prayers. You will survive Mama. I never thought I’d climb out of the exhaustion and joyless days, but you will! Saying prayers for you right now. 🙂 Hugs.

    September 18, 2013 at 8:30 pm
  • Reply KENDYL GRACE

    WOW! This really blessed me. I prayed this morning and asked God to help me as I go through some tough times. I felt defeated as I tried tackle working, being a single mother and several other things. I was so consumed with the whirlwind that was going on in my life it didn’t seem like others were going through nearly as much as I am. Your post has helped me to realize that even though things may look “perfect” on the outside you never know what someone is going through. We are all fighting our own battles and it’s perfectly ok to not have everything 100% perfect. What is important is that God’s grace is sufficient. Although he may not take all of our uncomfortable situations away he will equip us with the tools necessary to get through our tough times.

    June 1, 2014 at 5:51 pm
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