I was recently musing over the past 10 years or so, and it is amazing to me how much of it I spent completely overwhelmed by housework and all the other responsibilities in my life.
My journals tell the story of my overwhelm
As I looked through some of my old journals, I saw so much of this type of thing:
“I've gotten so far behind on the housework with the baby teething. I walked around in circles all day because I was so behind and it made me feel overwhelmed.”
“I get overwhelmed by housework very easily when I see how much needs to be done.”
“I feel like I'm always running in circles and not actually accomplishing anything.”
Emails from my blog readers tell the same story
Every day, I receive emails that contain some variation of what I wrote above.
Everyone is overwhelmed!
And oh, how I understand! I understand so well!
But year by year, baby step by baby step, I've learned and grown and changed.
I do not spend my days overwhelmed by housework anymore
Bit by bit I have made progress until I no longer feel like the word “overwhelmed” is a central figure in my life.
Yes, I have my moments. But I actually wake up excited in the mornings, and I go to bed at night feeling satisfied with my day instead of feeling like a total failure.
Don't get me wrong. I'm in no way saying I'm now superwoman. There isn't usually a massive list of accomplishments I can point to at the end of the day. Life still has a way of throwing curveballs just like it always has.
What I am saying is this – I'm at peace and no longer overwhelmed by housework all the time. (Again, not that I don't have my moments.)
So…what is different? How did I stop feeling so overwhelmed all the time?
1. Life's circumstances change, but God our helper is always the same
I'm not going to lie. My circumstances are easier in some ways than they have been in years past. I have much more energy than I've had in years past. Children who are older are (somewhat) more helpful around the house.
But if you're thinking that the only way you can stop being overwhelmed is for your circumstances to change, you're going to be overwhelmed for a long time, my friend. There will always be difficult things in our lives. Instead of looking for better circumstances, look to the Lord. Without him, we can do nothing. Sometimes it takes hard things to help us remember to depend fully on Him.
2. Knowing my priorities means I am okay with not “getting it all done”
I've learned how to set priorities and keep my focus there. I don't get all the things done, but I am clear on what is most important, and I can go to bed satisfied with my day even when other things are left undone.
My goal setting planner enables me to set big goals and turn them into a daily, bite sized to do list. As a result, I know exactly what I need to do each day, and I also know what things won't be a big deal if I don't get to them.
3. I work with, and not against my personality
I've learned that trying to force myself to fit into a mold that's not my personality only makes me rebel against it and makes things worse. So instead I maximize my time in a way that works for my personality. For example, I might know that having dinner on the table promptly each evening would help with getting everyone to bed earlier, which would in turn give me an earlier morning and more time to reach my goals. However, cooking is not my favorite thing to do, which means I can tend to procrastinate. I keep a list of quick and easy meals that are still nutritious, and I make them very frequently with no guilt. Just because some moms cook a certain way, that doesn't mean I'm a bad mom if I don't make the same meals they do. I just do what works for me. Trying to force myself to make more complicated things or have a certain number of side dishes might allow me to pat myself on the back for feeding my family the “right” way, but in the long run it would contribute to feeling more overwhelmed.
4. I've learned to rest in who Jesus says I am.
I spent too many years of my life feeling like I had to try harder.
The fruit of the spirit felt like something I had to produce…I had to put forth the effort to be kind, to be diligent, to be good.
But if being good is something that is produced from my own effort, then it's not actually a fruit of the spirit; it's a fruit of my own prideful self-sufficiency.
God has lovingly taught me that his invitation is to rest in him.
A plant doesn't have to try hard to bear fruit. The only way a plant bears fruit is to simply be what it is. The roots do the work of providing everything that plant needs to flourish and be fruitful. Likewise, the fruit we bear can only and ever be a result of simply abiding in the vine. Colossians 2:6-7 reminds us that the same way we received Christ Jesus (through faith, not by our own effort) is the same way we are to walk in him…rooted in him. He is the vine, and I am the branch. It is by abiding in him that my life becomes fruitful (John 15:4-5.)
I am loved by God just as much on the days when my house is clean as I am when it is a disaster. I am just as much “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6) when I make a gourmet meal as when I serve cereal for supper.
When we do not properly understand our identity in Christ we will fall into one of two ditches: Either constant guilt that we're not doing the Christian life good enough, or pride that we're doing it better than others. Either way, the devil loves it because we're living like cats chasing our tails, seeking approval we already have, when the life of Christ could instead be springing up from within us, flowing outward and watering the seeds of the kingdom of God.
(A book that was a particular blessing to me in this regard was The Naked Gospel.)
There are obviously many more details that go into my journey of becoming less overwhelmed, but since I can't fit 10 years of my life into one post, I do hope these main takeaways will help you like they have helped me.
I can't promise to help you become less overwhelmed overnight, because learning to depend on the Lord and learning how to better manage our time is a lifelong journey. We should never stop learning and growing, but I hope that this article will be an encouraging step along the way.
For more information on the goal setting planner that I use, visit this page right here. It truly makes so much of a difference in my life!