Anxiety Faith Monday Mantras

Overwhelmed and Anxious? Look Up, Child!

Overwhelmed: The Pressure to Perform

Last week, I was booting up my computer to draft up some “Monday Mantra” motivation to share with you and send some love to the peeps on my email list.

But after spending 30 minutes or so with my fingers to keyboard, I looked up and saw my beautiful mother sitting across from me in my living room. And I thought, “what am I doing?”

You see, time with my parents is oh so limited these days. My parents (and other immediate family members) live in WI: two whole time-zones of separation from us here in CA. Given the distance between us, we really only get to see one another a couple times a year or so.

In that moment in my living room, it dawned on me that I wasn’t using my time wisely. I realized wasn’t writing because I wanted to write…I was writing because I felt pressured to write. Pressure I was putting on myself because I didn’t want to disappoint my readers.

A performance-driven mindset and my perfectionistic nature wanted me to “stay committed” to delivering my weekly newsletter and posting on my blog…despite the fact that my parents were here in town visiting.

I can do both, I thought.

But the more I thought about it, I admitted I couldn’t do both. Giving into the demands of writing would come at a cost. I would be robbed of some of the precious, limited time I had to spend with my parents while they were in town paying us a visit.

So, I made the choice that was hard for my performance-driven mindset, but easy for my soul: I closed my computer and put it on lock-down mode…for the entire week while my parents were here. 

To Avoid Overwhelm, We All Need A Break Sometimes

MAAAAAN has it been a long time since I’ve done that. 

You know…step away from work completely. 

Last week there was none of that “I’m off, but I’ll still boot up a bit here and there” (the kind of “vacation mode” many of us are guilty of falling into).

Nope!  Not last week!  Instead, I enjoyed some “real” time off.  Vacation time that allowed me to really be present with my family and rejuvenated my soul.

WOW, did I need that break last week with my parents!

Why? 

Because the week before last was pretty…well let’s just say…intense

The Debilitating Nature of Overwhelm

The other week, I took the plunge and jumped into the unknown waters of book writing. 

Complete transparency here: it still feels weird to say that I’m tackling book writing because I am plagued with a bad case of author-imposter syndrome. 

Yet, despite my insecurities…despite my feelings of inadequacy…I began diving into outlining the book I sense God is prompting me to write.

What this has entailed thus far is many grueling hours sifting through (and attempting to make sense of) years of memories, life-altering moments, and prophetic words and messages from God.

Right from the start, I was completely overwhelmed.

I had no idea where to begin. 

I had no idea how to bring forth a clear, focused message from what appeared to be a jumbled mix of stories, life lessons, and spiritual insights provided by God over the past few years.  My mind swirled through endless possibilities for the overall message of the story God wanted me to tell.

I had no idea where my labors were taking me as I accumulated and categorized life moments; yet I continued to plug away. 

In hindsight, I can clearly see how the many moments of my life have been carefully woven together with God’s faithfulness and are lived proof of His sovereignty. 

God has continued to reveal His loving, trust-worthy character throughout the years. 

And yet? 

At times, I still find it difficult to trust God and willingly walk through uncharted territory.

Overwhelm and Anxiety Peak When Faced With Uncharted Territory

This book writing path before me is one of those uncharted territories…one of those unknown (and terrifying) places. 

Despite my fears: I trust God.  To provide clarity around the message of the book He intends for me to write.  To take my writing where He intends it to go and to reach the people He intends it to reach.  To use me the way He desires to use me.

And yet, while I trust God’s good nature, His faithfulness, and His perfect plans…while He’s proven His goodness time and time again over the years…

When the path before me is unclear or when I’m faced with challenges that go beyond my own abilities? 

I find myself doubting and crying out to God: 

“I believe, but help my unbelief.”

Sometimes…It Just Feels Like “Too Much”

As I outlined away and tried to make sense of what was up ahead in this writing journey: overwhelm hit hard

Sporadic bursts of tears expressed my fears and feelings of inadequacy as the weight of stress crushed me from the inside out. 

It all felt “too much” for me to handle.

As I surveyed the seemingly impossible task, I desperately desired to just throw up my hands and walk away. 

Have you ever been there?  

That place of overwhelm? That breaking point wherein you can no longer mask away your fears?  Have you ever felt that crushing weight of anxiety?  That suffocating feeling that makes “giving up” look like such an alluring option?

Well, I sure have!   Overwhelm and anxiety are two pesky foes with whom I have become well-acquainted over the years. 

And I’m certain you have met them a time or two before as well. 

Those two pesky, little buggers come knocking at the door for all of us:for some, more frequently than others.  

We may be unable to control whether or when Overwhelm and Anxiety decide to pay us a visit. 

However, we do have a choice in whether or not to open up the door to our internal worlds and entertain them as guests.

4 Steps to Combat Overwhelm and Anxiety

When overwhelm and anxiety come knocking…

How can we keep them from entering into our personal spaces and wreaking havoc on our insides?

Well, what’s helped me out tremendously is LOOKING UP to God. I look to Him for comfort, as well as support in grounding myself back firmly in truth. 

This includes:

  1. Acknowledging the emotions that are present (e.g., overwhelm and anxiety)
  2. Specifically naming the thoughts and feelings that are coming up (the thoughts and feelings that feel oh-so true)
  3. Looking to God to help filter out the lies and identify what’s true
  4. Proclaiming truths and prophesying His promises (even if they go against your feelings and thoughts)

How I Put These 4 Steps in Action

What this looked like for me to put these four steps in action the other week… 

As I mentioned, overwhelm and anxiety are frequent visitors for me. So I know their knock quite well. 

The other week, they came showed up in their usual fashion.  So it was quite easy to spot their unwelcome interruption.

Step 1: Acknowledge overwhelm and anxiety are present

Physically, I could sense overwhelm and anxiety had arrived when I experienced a tightness in my chest and a burning in my throat. 

Emotionally, I sensed a feeling of urgency and irritation.  My head felt jumbled and downcast thoughts began spinning through my mind at warp speed (e.g., “I can’t do this! I can’t handle this! I want to give up!”).  Anxiousness and panic had me on the brink of tears.

As soon as I sensed the presence of Overwhelm and Anxiety, I knew what to do: an emotional outpouring and thought-purging.

Step 2: Name the thoughts and feelings

“This is too hard, God!!! I want to give up! Father, I can’t see how this is all going to come together. I know you have a message you want me to bring forth, but I just can’t see it. Help me, Father, help me!!”  

My emotions exploded out from me as cries up to God.  This part usually comes easy for me. 😉

As I tearfully opened up to God and was honest about how I really felt, the Spirit’s soft, loving voice brought me encouragement. Despite my thoughts and emotions crying out defeat, my soul could sense His voice prompting me onward to truth.

Step 3: Look to God to help filter out the lies and identify what’s true

“Trust me. There is no need to panic. I’ve already written the message I intend you to deliver through this book. I will guide you. Just trust me: it’s impressed within you, and I will help it come forth as I intended from the start.”

As I listened to the Spirit’s loving message and leaned into God’s presence, my tears of panic quickly turned into tears of praise.

By acknowledging my feelings and releasing my fears and doubts over to God, He helped shift the focus of my thoughts. 

The pages upon pages of memories, moments, and messages I had collected no longer looked like a muddled mess of overwhelm. With God’s help in a lens readjustment, I could now see things differently and more clearly. 

Rather than focusing on the overwhelming task before me and feelings of inadequacy, I began to direct my attention rightfully to God’s faithfulness.

Which broke open the floodgates, allowing truths to pouring into my soul and wash over me with peace.

Step 4: Proclaim truths and prophesy His promises.

God reminded me of the many, many times He had come through for me in the past (despite my doubts).  He reminded me of the fact that He has always been faithful to me, He has always been with me….and that will never change.

He reminded me that despite my fears, He has a plan.  And it’s a good one.

God led my mind to the many moments in my yesterdays wherein He had held me close and reassured me with His presence.

He helped me recall the times He had woven encouragement and supportive friendships into my story when I most needed them.

He reminded me of the various events He had orchestrated and/or had allowed to play out in my life story in order to grow me and bring me to this place today.

As I sat with God, my spirit was refreshed as He realigned my mind with truth.

Reassuring truths, such as:

  • God is faithful. (1 Corinthians 1:9, Hebrews 10:23, Lamentations 3:22-23)
  • God is in control and there is no reason to fear. (Isaiah 41:10, John 14:27, 2 Timothy 1:7)
  • God is always present; He will never leave us or forsake us.(Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9)
  • Nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39)
  • God has a plan for us and works all things out for good. (Jeremiah 29:11, Genesis 50:20, Isaiah 43:1)
  • We can turn to Him in any situation, and He will bring us peace and comfort. (Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 94:19)

Truths upon truths came pouring in. 

Truths that helped keep overwhelm and anxiety in their rightful place: on the outside of my heart. 

Instead, God filled my insides with peace, joy, and love.

Feel the Fear and Overwhelm and Trust God Anyway

When you sense Mr. Overwhelm or Ms. Anxiety knocking on the door to your heart…

Friend, REFUSE to give way to their demands and allow them in. 

Keep the door to your heart and emotions tightly closed to those distressing little buggers. 

When Overwhelm and Anxiety come a-knocking:

LOOK UP, CHILD!  

Look Up to God for Hope and Help  

God is a loving Master who will help keep your quarters safe and refreshed by peace.

Remember, Friend: God has a plan for you and your life.  And not only is it a good one…but He knows exactly what He’s doing.

Overwhelm and anxiety will do their best to convince you:

  • That it’s all up to you.
  • That there can’t possibly be any good that will come out of whatever mess you may currently be trudging through. 
  • That you don’t have what it takes to handle what’s up ahead.
  • That the road up ahead is too much for you, so it’s better to stay put where it feels “safe” (even if “safe” is a less-than-desirable place to be)

But refuse to buy into those lies.

Reinforce your heart in truth:

  • God can handle whatever “mess” you’re in or whatever problems you face. 
  • He can handle whatever doubts and fears you have. 
  • He can handle and will bring you through whatever is up on the road ahead.

Oh yeah, and there’s also these other two little reassuring nuggets of truth:

  • God’s already walked the path before you: so there’s nothing that can even take Him by surprise.  He knows not only what challenges may await you; but also, how to help you come out victorious.  
  • And never mind the battles…He’s already won the war (over death through Christ’s death on the cross). 

God is faithful: you have nothing to fear.  

So, the next time Overwhelm and Anxiety come knocking at your door…remind yourself to LOOK UP, CHILD!!!

Ground yourself in truth.  Allow God to comfort you and remind you that He is able to do all things. 

Including, help you defeat those opponents of Overwhelm and Anxiety. 

I wish you well in the days to come, Friend.  

I’ll catch you next Monday. 

Until then, I leave you with this:

May you trust God and His plans for your life.
May you follow God’s lead wherever He may call you.
May you bring your fears and doubts to the One who understands.

May you not be dismayed by hardships or uncharted territory. Instead, may you remember to:

 LOOK UP, CHILD. 


Scripture to Meditate on This Week

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –  Philippians 4:6-7

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