Overwhelmed. I did a poll this week and found, “10 out of 12 people” feel overwhelmed right now. Ok, there were only 12 people in the room, and it wasn’t a very scientific study, but I do have a strong hunch this is a common feeling at this point in the year. See, I have been through the beginning of a new school year quite a few times– about 40, with all my years of working with college students!
The feeling of being overwhelmed and the beginning of a new school year just seem to go hand-in-hand for me. Ugh! There are too many unknowns and too many details that need attention. And I really don’t like that. I want a little more control, a little more certainty. I want the path to be clear and an arrow pointing me in the right direction.
What is the answer?
What feels a little out of control for you? Where do you want clarity or direction? At this moment you might be wondering if you are going to make it through this school year, or the first round of tests. Or you want to know how you will fit everything in or what you will do when you graduate. Maybe you will graduate soon and it would be nice to know the name of the guy you will marry, or if you will marry at all. If you are a mom, I know there are a pile of concerns and and a need for clarity like no other time in life.
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
The time had come to make the move I dreaded. I went back and forth for a long time. “Should I do this or not?” So much indecision. His stuff needed to be packed up and moved to the other room, into a closet to the very back corner. Now, his stuff wasn’t going away. He was coming back sometime, but no longer would “his” room be “his” room anymore. I surely anticipated this day, not with longing of course, but with a mix of reservation and uncertainty. “Should I do it or not? Maybe I should just put if off a little longer. What if it doesn’t turn out like I hope? If I pack up his room at home as he starts his second year of college, will he feel misplaced, unwelcome, or now not feel like coming home at all?” But more my uncertainty had to do with the fact that people and kids move on, which is suppose to be a very good thing. This is what a mature person is suppose to do– not be a perpetual “kid.”
So I stood there staring at the mess that was left and thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t do this and just put it off.” “What should I do?” But then I took a few steps over to the right… and saw the mess in the adjacent room of the two boys who share a room. It is difficult being a freshmen in high school who shares a room with a brother that has legos, dinosaurs, swords, and a collection of cast-offs from three older brothers. It was time. My heart and my head wanted to go in two different directions. Once again I was at a crossroads as my heart felt sick, and the tears began to trickle.
Knowing the answer is not necessarily the answer
Here we go. Once again I was brought back to this word, just one word. “Trust.” Now this word has felt a little overused, misused and sort of an easy “answer” at times. Even though I need it, what I really want are answers and control. My feelings say, “Know all the facts, before stepping out. Get things under control.” Or it says, “It is ok to worry, or be stressed or avoid being uncomfortable.” Really, comfort is the goal of my feelings. And trust is often a battle of of the heart and the head. But God says to trust first. Now I am relearning to trust and depend on Him each day. Today I need to trust. I need to trust Him in the details. I need to depend on Him for the list. I need to trust Him for the pile weighing down and for the impossible things. Will I choose to depend on Him today?
Clarity it really secondary to trust.
There is a famous quote from Mother Teresa from a conversation she had with a person who asked her to pray for clarity for him. She tells him that “no” she will not pray for that. But she will pray for trust instead. She says about her own life:
“I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”
I so relate, I want to know. I want the path. Then I can step out. But God says I can trust Him first for He is trustworthy.
What does trusting look like?
Good question. I am sure it looks a little different for each person. For me, it happens when I quickly stop and pray when I realize I am seeking the right answer or finding myself worrying incessantly over an issue. As I feel stressed, in over my head, or in a situation I dread, I reaffirm my need to utterly depend on God. This is the best place for me to learn to trust– when I am in over my head! It then becomes more about God and His good plan, instead of about my feelings, my security and comfort.
It also involves action. It is taking the next step down the path with confidence in the Lord. I remind myself that a fruitful life will involve stepping out when I don’t feel like it. It will include daily needing to walk by faith. Trust isn’t just a mental thing, but trust is demonstrated in actions and words. Trust will involve doing things that are uncomfortable.
I also keep reminders- different verses that help me to trust. This is a great verse to memorize:
Trust in the Lord and do good.
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Psalm 37:3
I like different words in this verse.
Trust– I am given on object for my trust. It is not just a trust that everything will work out or go a certain way (being positive) but my trust is in the Lord who is good, loving and faithful. I am called to trust Him.
Do– Trust is an action.
Dwell– I am to live trusting in Him right where He has me at this moment, wherever I am. I am to live at this spot, trusting in Him. I am to trust right now, not “one day” in the future, but in this moment.
Cultivate– I need to be faithful where I am right now and have things that encourage me to live a fruitful life right where I am. Stretching and difficult things are often the very tool to cultivate this and grow my trust.
Trusting will change the year ahead
Trusting stretches us. We don’t know what is on the other side, but we do know the One who calls us to trust. The fruitful life is one that will come about as we trust in Him and walk by faith. When we trust we truly flourish. The best thing for my overwhelmed heart as I start this new school year is to depend on God for the seemingly impossible, to not run away from the uncomfortable, and allow myself to be stretched. Each day I need to trust. Trust, not clarity or control, is what I need most right now.
What is God calling you to trust Him with right now?