18 March 2012

How to Keep From Being Overwhelmed

Today I sit amidst papers everywhere--clipboards, charts, checklists--pencils, books, flashcards all around me, and I feel overwhelmed.

Another term starts in the morning, and I'm not ready, but we will start anyway, because I will never be fully ready.  

I am tired today, and I would rather crawl under covers and hibernate, letting somebody else draw up the plans and clean up the schoolroom and serve up dinner.

And I think back to the lie I spoke the other day, well-meaning, but false nonetheless:  "It will get easier," I said to her.  She, who has two 2 and under, is overwhelmed under the diapers and needs and constant crying and night wakings.  I remember that life, and how unrelenting it was.

So I spoke the words, fully meaning them, but that's because I was zooming down the road, my children all quiet and tucked into seatbelts, nobody needing anything right then.  I forgot.

But it was a lie.

It doesn't get easier.

It gets harder.

In the beginning, you worry about their health and safety and sleep and food.  It's all-consuming, and it takes every fiber of your being to summon the strength to smile at a fussy two-year old when you've only had 3 consecutive hours of sleep for months on end.  Newborns are precious and worth it, but the lack of sleep feels deadly, and you wonder sometimes in that season if it really is worth it all?  You call your mom and ask, Is it possible to actually die from lack of sleep?  And when she says no, you doubt her.

So it stands to reason, when they can bathe themselves and dress themselves and feed themselves, and you no longer have to cover electric outlets and worry about choking hazards, that it would get easier.

That part of it does, surely.

But the rest?  It only gets harder.

Teaching and training and caring for emotional needs, and spiritual needs, and dealing with endless sin--yours and theirs--is relentless.  It drains the spirit so fast that unless you constantly feed it, you'll just dry up.  And sometimes you forget to feed it.

Today I feel dried up.

This is not an easy road, this seamless life of living and loving and learning under one roof.  There is no day off.  School during the week, church on both days of the weekend, and the laundry?  It never takes a day off.  I can choose not to do it, but then I have double the next day.  The dishes?  Always there.  And even if I'm not the one doing them, I'm the one reminding somebody to do them.

It's ceaseless.  And that's the good days.

The bad days--when rebellion stirs, or hearts are hard, or disease sets in--those are the days when we have to wonder how strong He thinks we are, that we can handle it all.  At all.

Those days--

those days are the days to settle in.  To read the words again:  "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."  And again.

"Cast your cares upon Me."

"Be anxious for nothing but pray about everything."

Everything, Lord?  Even when the waves are threatening to overwhelm me?

And then I remember:  "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you."

This relentless, ceaseless calling is a lot of things.  It is hard, and it does not get easier; you'll just trade one set of cares for another.  There is no break for mothers.  But here is one thing it is not:  It is not overwhelming, because He says nothing shall sweep over me.  Nothing will overwhelm me.

This feeling of being overwhelmed I have?  The one that makes me want to rest my head down on the desk and sigh, the feeling that this is too hard and too involved and too much?  It's just a feeling.

He is true.  My feelings?  They'll lie to me.

It doesn't get easier, yet He says His load is easy.  I have to put down my load to pick up His.

So I carry on.  We still start another term tomorrow, and I'm no closer to being ready than I was before.  But somehow, knowing that it will not sweep over me, that questions and concerns and worries and fears will not triumph over me, that inexplicably changes everything.

And once again I marvel that He chose me for this job, to raise these children.  I know that I can step in sync with Him, and that He won't allow me to drown under the waves.

Not this time, and not next time.

So I guess then, in light of that, it does get easier.  I should call her back.

And this time, I'd tell her the truth.  His truth.


  1. Oh, I couldn't agree with you more! And how many times have I told that to others - "It gets easier." True, that season gets easier. The boys don't wear diapers anymore; they did get potty trained. And they all sleep through the night. But now there are different issues, as you pointed out. Heart issues, relationship issues. People constantly say, "I don't know how you do it - homeschool 6 kids." My reply - only by God's grace. Otherwise, I'm a complete failure on my own. You're right, He does not leave us to do this on our own. And how very thankful I am for that, and how I need to remind myself of that more often. Thank you.

  2. Amen...so needed to read this tonight.

  3. Amen...so needed to read this tonight.

  4. Sarah, I've been a lurker on your blog for so long, thought I should say hello! Thank you for your tell-it-like-it-is post. Such a great reminder to all mothers in the trenches to keep looking up to the One who neither slumbers nor sleeps, the One who watches our way..our good Shepherd! Keep going! In Christ, Teresa

  5. Great post! So happy that you are blogging again. Your blog was my very first to follow back when Addie was born. I have always loved reading about the kids and the house. I also follow your mom's blog and don't comment as much as I should but I wanted you to know that your writing is always enjoyable to read. Mica Craig

  6. Sarah,

    Thanks for the encouraging post. It's good to hear the truth, even when you already know it! I needed the reminder that my emotions can be overwhelming, but that Jesus won't let me be overwhelmed. Tomorrow I'll be teaching, training, cooking, cleaning, etc., etc. right alongside you. I'll be praying for you, as you change the world for those four kiddos. You can pray for me as I change the world with my three.
    Hugs from Seattle!

  7. Love the sound of 'those FOUR kiddos'. And I DO know tiredness WON'T kill you, but it can feel like the life has been sucked out of you, all the while someone is pulling on the hem of your skirt needing you. It doesn't get easier, the journey IS worth it all, but perhaps it wouldn't hurt for YOUR mama to come in and give you a day off now and then...xoxo

  8. So thankful for your way with words and what they said this morning to my heart! When my kids were growing up, we used to say "this too shall pass, only to be replaced by something equally obnoxious". I like how you say it much better! :-) My two 'kiddos' are both in college and I really enjoy them. Blessings to you this fine day. Terri in AZ

  9. So true, Sarah! I often FEEL overwhelmed and them am reminded of His truth. Such good verses He brings to mind just as I need them. Tonight He brought your post instead. :)

  10. Thank you for this Truth and thankful for you sharing your heart!! Hugs! Melissa


Thank you for your comment!