My heart was racing and so was my head- to the point I felt sick and dizzy. I could not calm down, I knew I had reached a height from which I could not control.
What was wrong with me? When did I start feeling so overwhelmed with life? How did I become incapable of handling life?
“You are a failure” my mind screamed at me. Look how you’ve failed your kids, your husband, your family. I should’ve recognized the voice of the tempter, but my fears were raging and fear of failure is near the top of the list.
I’m sitting across from my sweet friend. I lean in, a wet kleenex crumpled in my sweaty palm. “Why can’t I handle life?”.
I saw compassion sweep across her face. “Because you are overwhelmed by anxiety”. She didn’t even hesitate. She could see it clear as day.
The words came with a flood of relief for me. I’m not a failure. I’m not losing my mind.
I’m simply afraid.
Why am I Feeling Overwhelmed with Life?
We become overwhelmed for many different reasons and often times these are part of our season of life.
- with work
- with a newborn (or kids of any age)
- with housework
- in a relationship
- with fear
- with anxiety
- with activities
- with responsibilities
- with depression
Sometimes we need to pull ourselves out of the swirling muck, take a step back, and reevaluate. This can be both scary and comforting. Other times we simply need to wade through and figure it out as we go.
In all of these situations, God is leading us and walking beside us. Knowing this alone can pull us up and give us the strength to keep fighting!
The Bible is full of men and women living in overwhelming circumstances. Some of them handle it amazingly while others make some poor choices.
Adam and Eve, for example, didn’t handle temptation well. Moses gets angry at the constant murmuring of the children of Israel and takes it out on a rock. Saul allows being king to go to his head and disobeys God.
On the other hand, Jehoshaphat turns to God when faced with an army big enough to destroy his entire kingdom. David makes some bad choices but comes before God in repentance. The widow of Zarephath, after living through several years of drought and ready to succumb to starvation, gives the prophet Elijah the last of her food, to the saving of her household.
Feeling Overwhelmed with Fear or Anxiety
I am not a stranger to fear. I will be the first to tell you that I am not brave. I do not like roller coasters, the dark, the unknown, new social situations, new work situations, doctors, snakes, and the list goes on and on.
We all have these kinds of fears. Sometimes fears are helpful because they keep us safe or prevent us from entering a potentially dangerous situation. I believe God gave us “healthy” fears for this purpose.
But what about overwhelming fears?
Since losing my Rebekah, I am terrified of losing another child. Everything has become a potential danger for me. The simplest decisions are impossible for me because what if they lead to harm? I am plagued by “what if”.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17 NKJV)
Our kids are a gift from God. At some point, we all need to learn to let go of our control and allow God to work in them. I cannot wrap them in bubble wrap. I have to trust God that He has a plan for each of them. Gretchen Fleming has a wonderful post about praying for our kids.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Amongst my fears is fear of the future. Anyone with me? This one has a verse too 😉 Isn’t it amazing that we can find a verse to help with all of our fears and feelings of overwhelm?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Feeling Overwhelmed with Life Responsibilities
Life is busy. As a homeschooling stay at home mom, I often feel overwhelmed with life responsibilities. Cooking, laundry, kid activities, doctor appointments, bills to pay, etc. etc.
There is simply not enough time in the day!
In “How to be a Happy Stay at Home Mom” I talk a bit about scheduling and finding time to stay connected to God. These tips are not just for us stay at home moms.
I do not want to sound like I have it all figured out because I certainly do not BUT I have figured out that feeling overwhelmed with life responsibilities can be a direct result of not staying focused on God. Our strength comes from Him and He will “restore our soul” if we allow Hime to.
For You have armed me with strength for the battle;
You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. (Psalm 18:39)
Life is a battle, isn’t it?
Often times when we are feeling overwhelmed with life responsibilities, we need to learn to prioritze.
Take a hard look at your situation and see what you can do to reduce the stress for a bit. We do this with kid activities. The craziness of the school year ends with May because we all need a break.
What is a priority in your family? Which activities can you cut and stay true to what you find most important? What responsibilities can you let go of?
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness… (Matthew 6:33)
Feeling Overwhelmed with a Relationship
God has a lot to say about how to treat each other in scripture, but more times than not relationship trouble needs to be brought before God daily. He will show you what is in your heart that needs to be addressed and how to you should behave in the difficult relationship (sometimes that means walking away and sometimes it means sticking it out).
Over the years I have discovered that many of the fights I have with my husband are provoked by me because I wish he would do this or that differently. God needed to teach me what was in my heart and how to let it go. Once I began bringing my disappointments to God and not pointing them out to my husband, our marriage flourished again.
Broken friendships have been out of my control and it was God’s will that they end. It was painful letting go and I hung on for longer than I should’ve.
Unforgiveness has plagued my heart, causing years of bitterness and festering anger. God had to first teach me to forgive and then teach me to let go. Only then could He heal my broken relationship.
So, while troubled relationships can be overwhelming, when you bring them to God and allow Him to work in the situation, you will find a peace like never before.
One more story on relationships. Paul instructs us in Romans 12:18 to “ If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
I think I like this verse because it says “if it is possible” which means some people are simply impossible to get along with. We are required to do our part, but no matter how hard we try, it just isn’t going to happen. It relieves a little pressure.
However, that doesn’t mean that we simply write off every difficult person we encounter. Remember, true peace isn’t about what is going on around us, it is about what is going on inside of us. The real test is how we respond to difficult people.
I first understood this verse in a story I was reading. The setting was France during the Reformation. A group of Christians known as Anabaptists were being sought out and killed because they went against the religious teachings of the day. The peaceful Anabaptists were always on the run, meeting in secret, trying to live a life honoring Christ and yet stay alive.
One farmer was particularly rude toward this young Anabaptist couple and they feared he suspected they were not following the state church. They agree to be as pleasant to him as possible and pray for him. The young woman quotes the above verse and they pray for his soul. I need to pause and point something out. They pray for the man, leaving themselves completely out of it. They do not pray that he will be nice to them or not turn them in. They pray that he might come to the knowledge of Christ.
We are responsible only for our own actions and how we related to people. We cannot blame others for our ill behavior. Paul instructs us not to retaliate. I cannot tell you how often I preach this line to my kids. It is a difficult concept to follow through with!!
In case you want to know how the story ends, the grumpy farmer does turn the young couple in and they are imprisoned for their faith. They were never angry at the man and continued to pray for his soul. They had put it all in God’s hands and had peace about it.
If you are dealing with a difficult person try praying for them leaving yourself out of it. Do not pray for them to be kind to you or change their attitude toward you. Most likely it has nothing to do with you anyway. Double check your own actions and attitude and leave it in God’s hands.
If you are feeling overwhelmed in your marriage, I highly recommend that you check out Tiffany from Hope and Joy in Christ. She has amazing marriage resources.
Bible Verses for Overwhelming Times
To start off this list of Bible verses for overwhelming times, I’m going to put my favorite two first 🙂
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. (Isaiah 43:1-2)
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
What do you Say to Someone who is Overwhelmed with Life?
The best way to help someone who is overwhelmed with life is to point them to the only one who can help them. Share these verses with them, send them in a text or write them in a card. You can be there for your friend, but in the end, God is the only one who can heal them and bring them peace.
I hope these thoughts on being overwhelmed with life encourage you. Lean on God, He is never overwhelmed!
Which of these verses resonates with you? When do you feel overwhelmed the most? I would love for you to leave your thoughts in the comments below!