The sun was out, birds tweeted, the blue sky sparkled. Saturday mornings are for getting stuff done. But, on this one particular Saturday, our house was on the brink of chaos. I wish I could say it was controlled chaos or even fun chaos. Nope. Plain chaos described our dwelling and even the condition of my heart that day.
Rewind two weeks prior to the point where my husband accepted a new job across country. We hit the ground running toward preparations for listing our house on the market. Let me tell you, I’ve learned more about “the market” than I ever wanted to know. I’ve learned about inspections, appraisals, listing agreements and how much our house needed a deep clean to be fit to sell.
I thought I would share with you what I personally learned during this tough, overwhelming season. Please know that I am sensitive to the fact that you might be dealing with more serious situations than cleaning closets and deciphering paint chips. Maybe my minimal drama example might give you a bit of a boost during your more trying season.
Here are two steps to conquer overwhelm and take back your peace.
1. Look at the Bigger Picture
Get a good grip on what your end goal needs to be. Yes, this step might spiral out into that overwhelming feeling. It just about threw me over the edge. But, just for a moment, take a quick glimpse at that bigger picture and all the pieces of your situation that must work together toward the moment where you will finally breathe easy.
For me, I worked backward from that end goal of listing my house in order to schedule painters, power washers, carpet cleaners, handy men. More painters. More plumbers. All working together toward one goal: fix this house!
What is your end goal during this difficult season? Is it the final paragraph on your master’s thesis project? Is it the final touch on a project for a client? Is it that last ninth month of baby in your belly?
Take a moment to prayerfully ask God what that end goal is. Let Him guide you toward step #2. Prayer is key here. When we get overwhelmed, it is tempting to allow that bigger picture to stall us out and keep us from moving forward. God is good. He is faithful to bring us through the tough stuff.
2. Take it One Layer at a Time
As I looked at my disorganized timeline, I noticed layers if you will -- different stages that must be walked out before moving to the next step.
Seeing one layer at a time allowed me breathing room to process what needed to happen right then and there. I only allowed myself to focus on one step at a time, and I could do this because I figured out the bigger picture first.
Back to that sparkly but chaotic Saturday. As I sat thick in the layers eating cold pizza on a paper plate with workmen all around, I felt the Lord whisper into my weary heart the most important lesson of doing tough stuff.
The power from God, embodied by the Holy Spirit in each true believer, is bigger. He is bigger than a house needing deep cleaning. He is bigger than any project, any dilemma, any trauma. That same God is also ever-sensitive to our heart need during this tough season. There is peace, strength, mercy, goodness, more strength for the taking when we surrender this tough stuff into His mighty hand.
In this season doing tough stuff, I realized, yes, this would not be the most difficult time in my life. No, there are more intense seasons that God allows us to walk through. But in that moment, I knew I would come out on the other side prepared for whatever tougher stuff life would bring down the road.
If we are willing to take an intentional look at what He might teach us, those experiences, those trying times will prepare us for the future ... somehow ... some way.
Our great God wastes no experience.