I am overwhelmed.
For the last few years, I have been happily busy. I have a lot to do, and I am very productive, but I manage it well. I work full-time; I homeschool my kids; I volunteer and blog and learn and do. It’s all good.
I know you know what I’m talking about because every mother everywhere is super busy, and you are no exception.
But then I started graduate school in January because, well, I don’t know why. I thought it would be a good idea even though my sweet husband was like, “You don’t have time for that, and you shouldn’t do it.” But since when do I listen to him?
Never, that’s when.
So I applied to the online MBA program at Penn State and got in and started in January, and it worked. I took two courses the first semester, but one of them was completed mostly during a one-week residency at Penn State. The classes were tough, but I managed just like I always manage.
I took one class over the summer semester, and I managed just like I always manage.
Unfortunately, the classes are very expensive, and I can’t afford to pay cash for them, so I am taking out student loans. BUT, in order to get a student loan, I have to take two classes.
So I took two classes during this fall semester.
And I am drowning.
I can’t spare time to play with my children. I can’t spare time to blog. I can’t spare time to do things with my friends. I am. always. studying. or working. (at my job).
The Story of the Jar of Rocks, Pebbles, & Sand
My therapist asked me this week if I knew about the story of the jar of rocks. I already knew it, but in case you didn’t, let me tell you.
There was a professor who filled a mayonnaise jar with rocks. He asked his students if the jar was full, and they agreed that it was.
Then the professor took out a handful of gravel and poured it into the jar. The gravel filled the spaces between the larger rocks and completely fit into the jar. He asked his students if the jar was now full, and they agreed that it was.
Next, the professor took out a bag of sand and poured that into the jar. It filled up the spaces in between the big rocks and the smaller gravel. He asked his students if the jar was now full, and they agreed that it was.
He explained that the jar was finally full, and this jar represented their lives. The big rocks are the truly important things, such as Jesus, good health, and relationships. If there was no gravel and no sand, your life would still be important and meaningful.
The gravel represents the other things that matter, like work, school, and home. These things are important, but they are not as important as the relationships with God and people.
Finally, the sand represents the material possessions and small stuff in our lives. These are the emergencies that suck up our time and the time wasters that numb our brains.
The professor went on to explain that if the sand and gravel had been put into the jar first, the rocks would not have fit. It’s the same with our lives, if you allow the time wasters and moderately important stuff to get in first, then there won’t be room for the real priorities.
My Big Rocks
My therapist challenged me this week to write down my big rocks. I said I had at least 6, and she said, “Nope. You get 3. You have to choose.” Without much thinking, I said my kids’ education, my job, and my blog.
In retrospect, I don’t think those are really my big rocks. I think my big rocks are Jesus, my family, and my physical and mental health.
I think my gravel includes all the things that I initially thought were my big rocks. These are things like my cats, my kids’ education, my job, my blog and social media, crocheting, and graduate school.
And then of course, the sand is everything else like cooking and cleaning and driving and managing my money. I would say time wasters here, but I pretty much never waste time. I don’t play games on my phone; I don’t scroll social media endlessly. I do what I need to do to catch up with my closest friends and my blog’s presence, and then I get off.
What I’m Doing Now
So all this to say that my priorities are all messed up right now because I paid $7,500 for 2 classes this semester, and if I don’t put my best effort into them, it will be a lot of money wasted.
I am overwhelmed and graduate school which is obviously just little pea gravel has taken over everything and pushed out all the important stuff like my blog and my family time.
I have a plan to get my priorities back in order. I transferred to a different program (master of management as opposed to MBA) this month. It costs about 2/3 of what the online MBA program costs and will be covered by my employer’s tuition reimbursement program. I will be able to take one class per semester starting in January, and I know that will be much more manageable.
And if it’s not more manageable, then I will adjust. Maybe I will quit. Maybe I will change a different priority to give grad school more room.
What I will NOT do is compromise my time with Jesus or my family. I will not compromise the time I spent on living a good, healthy life. I will not compromise my self care.
18 Encouraging Bible Verses to Overcome Overwhelm
Unless otherwise noted, all verses come from the New Living Translation.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 46:10 which begins by saying “Be still and know that I am God!”
Except, I can’t afford to be still. I have to be busy every minute of every day or else everything won’t get done.
And even if I am busy every minute of every day, everything will still not get done. Can I get an amen?
So, while this is a great verse to calm your anxious heart and help yourself to overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed, it will not do anything to actually help you defeat the cause of the overwhelm.
For that, I have found other verses. They don’t contain quick and easy steps that will help you overcome overwhelm in your life. Only hard work will do that.
But like be still, these verses can give you peace in your heart. They can lead you back to Jesus who promises that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.” -Psalm 46:10
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” -Matthew 19:26
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28
Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken. -Psalm 55:22 NIV
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. -1 John 4:4
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me. -Psalm 23:3-4
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint. -Isaiah 40:30-31
“For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.” -Jeremiah 31:25 (Spoken by The Lord)
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” -John 14:27 (Spoken by Jesus)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7
“Then call on me when you are in trouble,
and I will rescue you,
and you will give me glory.” -Psalm 50:15 (Spoken by The Lord)
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:13
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. -Ephesians 6:10
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. -1 Corinthians 16:13-14
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. -Romans 8:37
“For I hold you by your right hand—
I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you,
‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob,
don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you.
I am the Lord, your Redeemer.
I am the Holy One of Israel.'” -Isaiah 41:13-14 (Spoken by The Lord)
Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. -Romans 15:4
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” -John 14:1 (Spoken by Jesus)
A final word on feeling overwhelmed
Look, sweet friend. There is nothing that can take away the things you have to do besides prayer and hard work. You have to do what you can do with what you have and rest in the knowledge that He can make it enough.
What God promises is that He will be faithful to you. He promises that He will never leave you. He promises that He will make you enough.
Pray through this overwhelm. Pray that He will make you a success in His eyes, and pray that He will equip you to meet the challenges in your path with grace and confidence.
You can do this.
© 2019, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.