On Being Overwhelmed, and Also Martial Arts

Babies Have It So Easy.

I’m sure there was a time when the fall was not a busy season. I think it was when I was a baby. Those were the days. Footy pajamas. Free food whenever I screamed enough for it. My own personal butlers to wash, feed, and entertain me. And for the most part, I just hung out, relaxing. Alas, those days are gone.

Instead, in one moment it is July and you’re working on your plans for the fall kick-off. The next, you’re frantically trying to replace your pony ride vendor who can’t make it to your New Year’s Eve outreach, or something like that.

Fall is a busy time. It’s extremely easy to get overwhelmed by projects, tasks, plans, activities, and the list goes on. Being overwhelmed usually means that I’m trying to carry around every detail of everything, kind of like Atlas carrying the globe…Only I’m a flabby youth pastor, and the globe is quickly crushing me.

Kung Fu Combat for the Worrisome Soul

When this happens, I have two options. The first isn’t pretty. It usually involves a lot of face-rubbing, agonizing, gnashing of teeth, and the like. But in my holier moments, there are two things that keep me from being flattened under the well-seasoned cast-iron pan that is anxiety.

The first is God’s gift to anxious people like me. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he tells his spiritual son to develop his spiritual gifts and not be timid,

…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:7).

Fear, whether it be of failure or people or circumstances, should never be the lens through which we view our lives. Instead, Paul calls Timothy to be faith-filled and exercise his gifts, knowing that God has given us a spirit of power, love, and self-control. Paul sounds a lot like Jesus, who also said,

‚ÄúTherefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing…But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matt. 6:25,33, ESV).

The encouraging, life-calming, assurance that God has promised is that we can trust Him enough with our future and its outcome without being anxious.

But this is only part of the equation. So often I get anxious, then think and pray over these verses, gain perspective and become less anxious. Until again I get anxious.

The second part of the equation is to identify what specific action I can take to begin to chisel the globe-like burden into a speck that I can brush away. There is something about acting on what God says in his word that activates the power of those words- faith with works (the kind Martin Luther would have been proud of). When I can say, “having faith that God will take care of me, I will take on this mountain of tasks or projects or problems,” God meets me with his peace and strength.

It’s the one-two punch for that deserving jerk that is anxiety. Sock him in the eye with God’s word. Then break his jaw with a right-hook of action. Or something like that. Choose your combat metaphor.

Published by Eddy Barnes

Eddy Barnes a husband, father, and the youth pastor at Grace Covenant Church.

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