The cursor blinks at me and I stare at it blankly, because I guess I just don’t feel like writing today. Overwhelm was the prompt that jumped out at me from all the choices in our 30-day family writing challenge, and I guess that’s understandable, considering what life is like right now. Life is overwhelming, a stormy sea constantly, daily threatening to knock me down and drag me under. Wave after wave of bad news, of loneliness, of questions, of hard days, of uncertainty crash against me, and I know afresh what it is to be overwhelmed.
Not like I’ve never been overwhelmed before. Every year, December finds me nearly drowning in activities and concerts, financial anxiety, baking projects, gift wrap, and low-level guilt that I’m not joyful enough. But December has a foreseeable end. I know that I will spend Christmas Eve relaxing in new pajamas with my favorite people, eating far more food than is advisable. I know that Christmas day will be slow and merry, with gifts and more good food and plenty of time in my favorite chair with a new stack of books.
This is nothing like that. The days are slow, with a simple rhythm. There is no rushing about, no activities, no special dresses needing to be ironed, no parties to plan or gifts to buy. I cook meals, read to the kids, teach algebra and grammar. I give thanks for my kids’ public school teachers and for the internet. I do workout videos, read books, cook more meals. I take naps and post things on the library’s facebook page. I wash laundry and break up arguments and wonder how strict I should be about screen time right now. I text friends and go for walks and try to do all the right things to keep everyone as emotionally healthy as possible. I spend time with Jesus and rejoice at the sweetness of His Word. I stay busy all day long, doing the same things again and again, trying to run the race with patience and love my people well.
And every day I feel afraid of what the news will say, of what might happen to people I love. Every day I worry about my kids and the effect this is having on their lives. Every day I grieve the losses I hear about and the loss of my own plans for spring 2020. I get angry when I think about the time I’m missing with my parents right now. I feel helpless as so many of the ministries I have worked so hard on are just– cancelled. I feel overwhelmed not by busyness, but by all of the negative feelings that come during a time like this. And unlike the Christmas season, I have no idea when this will end. And maybe that’s the hardest part.
Will they go back to school this year? Will we have VBS? What does this mean for Gracie’s birthday, for summer camp, for vacation plans? How long can we all live here together like this before we all start hating each other? My heart and my thoughts become so quickly overwhelmed by all the wild uncertainty. This is the kind of storm I don’t know how to weather.
And that is why the faithfulness of God is such a sweet fact of His character. He does not fail. When I can’t weather the storm, He most surely can. When my heart is overwhelmed, He is the Rock that is higher than I. He reminds me that all the things that happen in my life, even these simple, quiet, routine-filled days of fear and anxiety, are put into my life to do me good. He builds character, endurance, deep faith, and maturity into His children as we lean forward into the hard times and press on. He holds us fast and helps us remain steadfast and upright, no matter how many waves crash against us– or for how long.
He knows the race that is set before me today, this month, this strange year of 2020. He knows the ups and downs of my emotions and the constant stream of bad news from the world outside these four walls and this small town. He knows exactly where the finish line is, even when I don’t, and He has promised to be with me as I keep moving forward. He invites me to look at Jesus and to keep going, to trust that all these things will work together for good.
He invites me, when my heart is overwhelmed, to go to Him as a child runs to a Father, and He rescues me from my fear and anchors me as I face another day.
He is overwhelmingly faithful.