Silence the Overwhelm and Hear God’s Voice

I am so excited today to share with you a guest post from my friend, Pamela Henkelman. So many of us are feeling overwhelmed so I cannot wait for you to hear how to “Silence the Overwhelm and Hear God’s Voice.”

The alarm jars me from a deep sleep.  I groan and roll-over, fully aware of my schedule ahead.  How am I already tired when the day hasn’t started? I reach for my comfy robe, grab a cup of coffee, and head to my spot. You know, the place I meet with Jesus in the morning.  I imagine peace and joy but I’m met with frustration and anger.  I try to quiet my racing thoughts.  “Focus,” I tell myself. “You can deal with it later. It’s time to concentrate on God.” 

Even my quiet time with God feels forced.  Where’s the comfort and connection I crave? I’m feeling empty and spent.  I wonder if God is disappointed in me?

I get the kids up and breakfast ready.  We leave half-eaten bowls of cereal lining the counter.  As I wave them out the door, my mind lands on the challenges my kids, these five cherubs ranging from preschool to high school, are facing these days. How in the world do I have a child in every age range?  We’re dealing with growing pains, emotional distress, friendship trouble, homework stress, and bullies at school. The issues are similar, but our kid’s ages require different approaches when parenting them through these issues.

I gather the abandoned bowls and rinse them off as I go over my to-do list for the day in my head. Each kid has their own schedule to keep and homework to get done. There are the drop-off and pick-up schedules to mind and dinner to make. Should I tackle laundry first or work on my Bible study for discussion tonight? Oh, wait, I have a dance meeting at four! The little girls have dance rehearsal, Keenan has a concert, Moriah is heading to Sam’s house and Caleb will want to go hang out with a friend after school.

I feel the tightness in my neck and notice my shallow breathing.  A wave of low-grade anger simmers below the surface.  I’m not mad at people, I’m just frustrated my schedule is so crazy.  

I’m overwhelmed by the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those around me. Really, I’d just like to escape. 

Pamela shared that the busy days of kids at home are long gone, but she’ll never forget the feelings of overwhelm she lived with most of the time.

1. Pause:

The first step to stop the overwhelm is to pause and become self-aware.

  • Take a deep breath
  • Where is there tension in your body?
  • What are you feeling?
  • Pay attention to any voice of shame or condemnation because these thoughts fuel the lie,

2. Identify the Lie:

The next step is to ask yourself this question: “What is the lie I’m believing about my current situation?”  The lie will sound like:

  •  Everything depends on me.
  •  It’s too hard.
  • I have to please everyone.
  • There’s too much to do.
  • I’m too busy.

3. Replace the lie with the truth:

Once you recognize the lie, you replace it with truth from God’s Word. 

Here are some truths:

  • I’m responsible for myself.
  • I can do hard things.
  • I only need to please God.
  • I can plan for rest.

4. Pray:

The final step is to pray a prayer of surrender.  You can pray whatever prayer of surrender you’d like, but I found this prayer on John Eldridge’s One Minute Pause App, and it’s helping me immensely.

God, I give you everyone and everything. Amen.

So thankful for Pamela’s guest post today on my blog! She has a free printable to help you when you’re feeling overwhelmed, ”60 Seconds to Freedom From Overwhelm.”  Please click on the link and she will email it to you. I know it will help calm the chaos!

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The Biggest Lie About Surrender – and Why You Can’t Afford to Believe It

I am so excited today to have my first guest post on my blog.  Jennifer Dukes Lee, the author of It’s All Under Control, wants to share with you today about surrender. Her post is titled: The Biggest Lie About Surrender – and Why You Can’t Afford to Believe It.  So it is my honor to introduce you to Jennifer.

If you asked me five years ago, I naively would have told you that I didn’t struggle with control. I mean, seriously— as long as everything went exactly the way I hoped, I was totally flexible.

It’s not that I wanted to control other people. Mostly, I wanted to control myself. If I ever had high expectations of anyone, it was of me. I wanted to present the self-assured, together version of my whole being. Which means I craved control over my face, my emotions, my body, my food, my words, my house, my schedule, my yard, my future.

My preference was a tidy, predictable, safe life where no one got hurt, where my kids remained in one piece, where there was no pain for anyone ever again, amen.

I said I trusted God but had reached the point where I realized I actually didn’t.

As a Jesus girl, this shocked me.

Clearly, my old systems of coping weren’t working: My desire to obsessively orchestrate my whole life was burning me out.

As a mom, I heard myself snapping at my kids. As a ministry leader, I knew that I was functioning within my call, but I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was tired, even after a regular night’s sleep. And I found myself zoning out during conversations with my husband, because I was mentally making lists of everything I needed to get done.

In short, I ran out of gas.

Maybe the empty tank was God’s way of bringing me to a dead stop, so I would finally pay attention. It worked. God got my attention, and maybe he’s trying to get yours too.

Imagine that it’s you who’s run out of gas. Maybe that doesn’t take much imagining after all, because like me, you’re tired of trying to hold it together. You want to keep it all under control, but things aren’t working out the way you planned.

When you and I began to follow Jesus, we relinquished control over our lives. But because we suffer from the chronic condition known as being human we constantly try to steal that control back.

My wake-up call happened when I realized that the battle for my heart was regularly being fought inside the tiny squares of my to-do list.

I began to ask myself this question: “What are the things that, if they were taken away, would shatter the identity I have created?”

Was it my work? My calendar? My efforts to shield my children from pain and suffering? This urge to always say yes?

For me, the answer was: “All of the above.” I was trying to be the CEO of everything.

Jesus delivered a sobering reminder: You will never know if you can trust Me if you don’t give Me the chance to prove it.

I recommitted myself to a life surrendered to Jesus’ plans for my life. But something felt … off … when I considered what surrender truly meant.

I accidentally bought into a weird idea that surrendered living meant mostly that I needed to “do less.” Yet that was unrealistic because so much of life clearly couldn’t be opted out of. People depended on me. I had kids to feed. A house to manage. Books to write.

Most people can’t simply fire their lives and move on when it gets too chaotic. We can’t stop managing a household, cancel all our appointments, and spend the rest of our days on a floatie in the middle of a lake.

Here’s what I began to learn: Surrendered living is much more than “doing less.” It’s being more of who God created us to be.

Yes, I totally need more chill in my life, and maybe you do too. But here’s the full truth about surrender:

Surrender doesn’t come with some unrealistic demand that you are suddenly going to stop being the incredibly brave and brilliant woman that you are. Real surrender appreciates God’s remarkable design in you.

Do you know what a wonder you are?

You don’t settle. You are the sort of woman we can count on to meet a work deadline, organize a food drive, take in the neighbors’ kids during an emergency, drive your coworker to chemo, counsel a friend at 3 a.m. by text message, keep track of everyone’s appointments, and make sure we’re all wearing seat belts before you drive us on the three-day adventure that you single-handedly arranged.

We need you. We need take-charge, charitable women like you as doctors and nurses in operating rooms where details like “proper disinfectant” matter. Let me tell it to you straight: If you have an inner control freak, I’m hoping you’ll let her bust loose like nobody’s business if someone I love is on your operating table. We need responsible women like you to control all the bleeding.

We also need you in charge of schools, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies. We need rock-star women like you to show us that surrender isn’t “lie down in a pile.” It’s “march forward like a warrior.” Sometimes surrendering to God will require you to do the hardest work you’ve ever done in your life: take in another foster child, fight for your marriage, kick cancer where the sun don’t shine, or refuse to capitulate to the persistent drubbing from Satan.

Girl, listen up. We count on you. You are a woman fervently devoted to God’s calling on your life, not only in your work but also in your relationships.

Of course, as Carrie Underwood will sing to you, Jesus is definitely taking the wheel. But make no mistake: There are times when he’s going to ask you to do some driving.

Don’t think of Jesus as your chauffeur; he is more like your driver’s ed coach.

He’s there to teach you His rules of the road. Friend, do not fear the wheel. You have been equipped to drive—and Jesus is beside you when you steer the wrong way. Hopefully He will pull the emergency brake if necessary, and I’ve personally put in a request for roads lined with padded walls.
 The windows are rolled down, the music is cranked, the tank is full, and there’s something that looks like freedom on the horizon.

Out on the open road, may you feel the reassuring love of Jesus. On this journey toward surrender, you’ll discover that, at last, it really is all under control: God’s.

BIO: Jennifer Dukes Lee is the wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, and an author. She loves queso and singing too loudly to songs with great harmony. Once upon a time, she didn’t believe in Jesus. Now, He’s her CEO. Jennifer’s newest book, It’s All Under Control, and a companion Bible study, are releasing today! This is a book for every woman who is hanging on tight and trying to get each day right―yet finding that life often feels out of control and chaotic.

Adapted from It’s All under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible by Jennifer Dukes Lee, releasing this fall from Tyndale House Publishers.