Stress and fear

With the new baby’s arrival only two weeks away, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve learned in the 18 months since our last child’s birth. It was a period that I thought was going to be soooo hard since I’d have three kids under three, so it’s been interesting to compare what it was actually like compared to what my control-freak, worrywart thoughts predicted it would be like.

I’ve learned so much through these reflections, but the biggest thing that’s hit me over the head is this: when I have moments of extreme stress, it is almost always because of fear.

Here’s what I mean by that:

As anyone could probably guess, I occasionally feel pushed to my limit by daily life. As a spoiled only child introvert who’s sensitive to noise and terrible at mentally multitasking, the work that comes with having three (soon to be four) children in five years often leaves me feeling stressed — sometimes really stressed. Yet in my recent reflections, I noticed something about all those moments where I feel like I’m hitting some kind of redline stress level: the actual difficulty I’m experiencing from the events of this moment, right now is only a partial contributor to my stress; a lot of it comes from fear that it is not going to get better any time soon.

In other words, it’s not that I am actually at my breaking point right now; it’s that I feel like I’m near it…and I don’t trust that God won’t give me more than I can handle.

Once this realization clicked for me I started to notice just what a large percentage of the stress in those “redline” moment is due to fear. For example, I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those bad moments within the hours leading up to a date night with my husband: it’s relatively easy for me to be calm in the knowledge that no matter how maxed out I feel, I won’t get overloaded because a nice rest is just around the corner. On the other hand, when I’m feeling maxed out and it’s 10:00 in the morning on a Tuesday, I am very likely to get in a mental state where I just give in to anxiety and stress and self-pity and all sorts of other negative emotions — not because I have actually been given more than I can handle, but because I because I see a long day and a longer week stretching before me, and unless something changes I’ll reach some kind breaking point and I will have more than I can handle. In other words, I’m afraid.

Not surprisingly (well, OK, it was surprising to me), when I thought back on these past 18 months, I realized: God never did give me more than I could handle.

It was amazing and delightful to realize that every single time that I felt like I was really getting close to the limit of what I could handle, God came through with an unexpected break to let me recharge my batteries. Every. Time. Sometimes my mom would unexpectedly call with an offer of help; other times the kids would just take a nice, long nap; a couple of times my husband was able to come home from work early; and yet other times my external circumstances didn’t get much better, but I’d simply be filled with the grace to handle it all happily. If I had only been willing to trust in God, to know that something like that must be coming because he would not give me more than I could handle, I could have saved myself a ton of stress.

The ridiculous thing is that I have no good excuse for being so untrusting. This is a lesson I should have learned long ago. I had actually been having thoughts along these lines early last summer when something happened that was pretty much God slapping me upside the head with the message: YES, YOU NEED TO BE MORE TRUSTING. I’ve never written about it because I figured it sounded almost impossible to believe, but I’ll share now because it’s so relevant to this topic:

I’d been feeling led to focus more on trusting God for a while (as I wrote about here back in 2007), but it was something I struggled with a lot. I had three kids in diapers and my two littlest were both teething, leaving me listening to screaming for a large portion of my days. I often felt kind of overwhelmed, but one day it reached a head. The baby had kept me up almost all night for two nights in a row, the two toddlers were constantly screaming and fighting, the house was a disaster area, and I felt powerless to do anything about it because I was just too tired.

I remember standing in my living room, right next to the fireplace, two of the kids pulling at my pantleg and crying, and thinking, “I am officially at my limit.”

My mom was out of town. My husband was in court. Good friends nearby had sick kids. There was nobody I could call for help. I was about to lose it — I didn’t even know exactly what would be involved with “losing it, ” but I just knew that whatever it was was about to happen. In an immature, angry prayer I turned to God and said, “Lord, they tell me that you don’t give people more than they can handle. I’m having a hard time believing that because I OFFICIALLY HAVE MORE THAN I CAN HANDLE. I am hereby begging you for your help. Please, please, please help me.”

As usual, there was no chorus of angels, no voice of God assuring me that it would all be OK. I just scooped up the kids and plopped on the couch and stared straight ahead, wondering what I was going to do.

About 10 minutes later, there was a knock at the door.

I opened it to see a smiling woman about my age. She introduced herself, and my jaw dropped when she went on to ask: “Do you need a babysitter?”

She went on to explain that she was new in the neighborhood and was looking for work watching kids. She’d seen us at the mailbox and thought she’d stop by to see if I happened to need any help. And since she didn’t have a car and we were within walking distance, she was willing to work for a really cheap hourly rate.

Long story short, I ended up having her come over to help me with the kids a couple days a week (she was “the babysitter” I referred to occasionally in posts this past summer). Our budget was really tight so we were only able to have her come for about eight weeks until we ran out of money for it, but that was just what I needed. By the time she left, things were much more manageable: our youngest was getting close to being a year old, our oldest was potty trained, and our middle child was finally out of the fussy teething period. Her help for a couple hours at a time a couple days a week was just what I needed to help me get over the hump of a brief but critical phase.

As I said, most of the time when God gives me the help I need, it’s something very subtle and doesn’t involve a knock at the door right after saying a prayer. But I feel like that situation was a big, glaring sign that I’m meant to keep in mind any time I’m tempted to lose trust that he won’t give me more than I can handle.

After thinking about all this, lately when I feel stressed I’ve been asking myself: “How much of this is legitimate stress from the events occurring right now, and how much of it is just fear?” I never cease to be amazed at how often it’s mostly the latter.

Anyone else have any good stories of God coming through just when you thought you were going to reach a breaking point?

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    So true and important for this time in my life. My #3 in 3 years comes in March and at this end of this pregnancy I’m feeling like I’ve got about all I can handle. I was just saying to my husband last night that I’m afraid to pray because I what if it doesn’t get better and I feel let down. I know better and need to show trust more. I actually slept last night and feel much better today even though I didn’t have the confidence to pray for my needs. He listened anyway. Thank you for your words. Happy baby time!

    ~Marie

  2. Antique Mommy says

    I do remember one time after Sean was first born, sometimes in that 1st 6 weeks or so, I was really suffering from sleep deprivation since he was a preemie and we had to get up and feed him every two hours – that coupled with the overwhelming fear and sense that I didn’t know what I was doing — and my friend who is a labor and delivery nurse, just showed up at the door one day, took the baby and sent me to bed. When I woke up, all was well and she had done my laundry and fixed a meal. Don’t know if God sent her, but it blessed me tremendously and I’ve not forgotten it.

  3. Christine says

    Awesome! Love it.

    My pastor had a sermon earlier this year in which he described fear as a clenched fist. I can’t tell you how much that simple description has helped force me to make myself relax and calm down. God never fails. I do. When I need to lean on Him, He always offers His Hand.
    As always, thank you for your blog, Jennifer. Please try to give us as much notice as you can for the birth so we can lift you & your family in prayer!!!!

  4. Hannah says

    This made me think of the card I have on the wall above my desk which says “Today is the tomorrow I worried about yesterday, and all is well”.

    Best of luck with impending baby-ness! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Catherine says

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful realization. I have been seeing in my life too that pretty much all of my unhappiness revolves around a fear that God won’t really be there to catch me when I “fall.” After my first week of homeschooling my kindergarten age son with Asperger’s Syndrome I realized I had no idea how to teach him and I already knew he could not manage school. I was completely out of ideas and hope when out of the blue I learned about an in-home therapeutic and educational program for children with autism called the Son Rise program that has been wonderful for all of us. God is always there!

  6. Meghan says

    This has been a huge lesson for me too, and now one of my little mantras is “Cross that bridge when you come to it.” It reminds me that I have everything I need (and not a bit more) in THIS moment to walk in faith.

  7. Anonymous says

    Trust issues are indeed based completely on underlying fear.
    I used to wonder, ” Lord, is this
    event/situation going to be the deal breaker? Will I cave?”
    There is a line in the Mass which provides great comfort:
    “Lord, protect us from whatever makes us anxious and afraid.”
    Our good Lord! He sure does have all the bases covered. Padre Pio:” Pray, hope and don’t worry”.. so easy to say..so hard to do.
    happy delivery and happy baby

  8. Anonymous says

    You’ll do great. I can’t believe I’m saying this but one day you will look back on these days with joy. It’s true. I just wish I had had the faith to see it. I only see it now a good ten years out. I wish I could go back. Everything is better now, more money, more sleep, more organized, but for some dang reason I yearn for those days. It’s all a gift Jen, just maybe not what you asked for! God Bless

  9. fumblingtowardgrace says

    I love this post. I’m not a mother yet myself (I’ve only been married slightly over 1 month), but I have diabetes and sometimes I feel this way. When I eat something I know I shouldn’t, when it just doesn’t seem fair that a otherwise healthy, normal weighted 25 year old should have a failing pancreas…it’s easy to feel as though God’s given me too much to deal with.
    But it’s fear of the future, for my family, etc.
    Thank you so much for your insight!

  10. Lisa says

    My story is similar to Antique Mommy. When my 3o wkr son came home from the hospital, he was only 4lbs, 5oz and bf’d every hour and a half. After 8 weeks of this, I found myself crying to my husband at 3am, that I just needed 2 straight hours of sleep. I felt so exhausted. The next night, my baby slept four solid hours. I was a different person!

  11. Beth@Not a Bow in Sight says

    Oh wow. This was just what I needed to hear today. With three kids in five years I feel so overwhelmed. At times I definitely feared a breaking point. I even had one…but luckily I wasn’t alone.

    Fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real!

  12. Party of Eight says

    Thanks for sharing your story!
    I didn’t know how I was going to homeschool my kids right after I had my baby #6 in September. My aunt had just retired from teaching and I have a friend who mentioned asking for help when she needs it. Well, I decided to ask my aunt to come over twice a week for a little while just to help out checking work and helping out where needed. Of course she said yes! I have been Blessed and she still comes over 1-2 times a week to help!

  13. SAHMinIL says

    I don’t have any story of my own, but I just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading this today! It was something that I needed to “hear”. Thank-you ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Nancy Krebs says

    Der Jennifer,

    I read with great interest your story about your move from pro-choice to pro-life, and now this wonderful blog about your conversion. I've never been a mother–at least not of young children, but have certainly experienced that knot of fear that you have spoken of with regard to not being able to handle whatever is thrown at you–potentially. That request of God to come to your aid, that trust in Him to give you strength or 'that His will be done' etc. has always worked for me. And it amazes me every time. Just when you think–'oh, He wouldn't come through again, not this time'–He does. I find it ironic that even today, after thousands of interventions by God almighty: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I still question that beneficence. I think it's only in the looking back that we see clearly how much His guidance, His help, his strength fueled our own in times of stress. And it is in trusting that we come to reap the full benefits of peace of mind. Good luck with your new addition to your family. And thank you for your testimony!

    Nancy Krebs <><
    http://www.nancykrebs.com

  15. Kimberly says

    I don’t have a great story now, but I loved this post.

    I am grumpy because I used to follow you on Twitter, and it kicked me off, and now it won’t let me follow you again.

    Phooey.

    I really loved this post.

  16. Melanie B says

    I definitely see a correlation between stress and fear. Often I feel most stressed when I start to come up against time limits. Like when the toddler hasn’t eaten her dinner and we are coming up on bedtime. I get fearful we’re going to run into trouble transitioning from meal to bedtime and I know it’s my fault we are eating so late and my fear and guilt just amp up my stress. Which of course doesn’t help as I don’t think of gentle ways of easing her from one activity to the other but instead start to cajole and threaten in turn. Or when I’m trying to get us all out the door with the knowledge that if we leave too late we’ll be out during nap of lunch time. It’s hard to see at first but it is fear at the root of my stress, an irrational fear of hysterical screaming kids and everything spiraling out of my control. I lose all perspective. It’s hard to break out of that cycle and pray when I’m so caught up in fear.

    Thank ou for this. Maybe now that I’ve more clearly seen what the problem is, I can work on trusting God and letting go of the fear.

  17. Rebecca says

    I love this story. I too had a similar experience. My husband and I had been living apart for 6 months b/c he had a new job in the town we were planning to move back to. I needed to finish out the school year and get our house sell-ready and then put it on the market. So, he moved and lived one month with my mom and then a month with my dad back and forth. In the course of these months, I literally happened across Ecclesiastes verses ‘there is a season for everything under heaven.’ and I immediately was able to deal with our physical distance by praying through this season. But, by the time July rolled around and the school year was over, our house had been on the market since March and NO offers, I was at my breaking point. I remember walking up the steps, and feeling like I hit a brick wall. I stopped, raised my face and eyes to heaven and said “Ok, God, I know there is a time and a season for everything. I know you won’t give me more than I can handle, but just in case you missed it, I’m DONE with this season. I’m ready to be in the same house with my husband again.” I felt like I’d said my piece and kept on going. Later that week we got the first, and only offer on our house. It was sold one month later and we were moving into our new apartment.

    That is part of why the top of my blog has the verse it has…because I know there is a season for everything, but I also learned that if you let God know you’re ready for the season to change, he just might step in and change it.

    Sorry for such a long tale, your post resonated with me so!

    Best wishes with Baby #4…We do not have children, in fact, it (having children) is my biggest fear.

    I know I’ve said it before, but I do love your blog!

  18. Kate Wicker says

    Great post and fear/stress are things I struggle with all of the time.

    Once when I did lose it with my kids and really was angry at myself and God, I broke down and sobbed to my mom. She comforted me first and then said something that’s really stuck with me, “Maybe God wants you to need him more.”

    Huh? Can’t he tell I flippin’ need him?

    But then I thought about what she said and realized that unlike you in my horrible mom moment I didn’t ask for help. I lost it and then I bemoaned losing it. Then I got angry, but I realized I never even struck up any kind of conversation with God…until much later.

    What I think my mom was suggesting, in so many words, was number 1: You have to be open to God’s graces to get them (i.e., pray/talk to him, ask him for help, do something to involve him in your moment of crisis), and number 2: By accepting your limitations, you’re inviting God into your life.

    I’d like signs, a burning bush, my own angel or a visible “cloud of witnesses.” I’d like someone to knock on my door when I’m at my wit’s end. And sometimes I do get help in very obvious ways, but God often works undercover and requires me to be open to him and his graces. I don’t know if that makes any sense now that I’ve written it…

    It’s just that personally sometimes the SOS I receive is simply God reminding me that I, try as I might, can’t do this (whether it be mothering or something else).

    Blessings!

  19. Jessica says

    I really liked this post. Glad I found you via Heather of the EO. I appreciate your writing and thoughts on faith.

  20. KimP says

    Jennifer, this post was very timely for me today. I’m not married and I don’t have children, but I went to work today very tense, and I spent the whole day tense and stressed. When I sat down on the couch tonight after work, I tried to figure out WHY I felt this way all day. Because from an objective perspective, nothing bad happened today. So why was I so stressed? Because I was AFRAID that something might happen that I wouldn’t be able to handle. I realized it was all my perspective and had nothing to do with objective reality.

    And then I read your post. Which shows we all have to deal with this issue no matter what our work is; as you say, trusting in God is the key. Thank you so much for this wonderful post. What is so funny though, is that sometimes I fantasize about being a stay at home wife, so I can avoid the stress of work! Shows you what an idiot I am!

  21. Ouiz says

    I think I could write a book on this subject, but I’ll offer just these two:

    As a mom of 7 kids (11 and under)things get mighty stressful at times, and there was one day in particular that I just cried out, “Do You see how many kids I’m trying to take care of? Everyone’s growing out of their clothes and I just can’t handle it.”

    You guessed it. That week THREE people dropped off garbage bags full of clothes. And shoes. Right to my front door.

    I can pretty much list on one hand the number of items of clothing we have actually bought for our children. All the rest have been freebies. That’s 11 years of free clothes!!!

    Second– I have had it, had it, had it with the size of this house. Everyone is crammed in, coats are on the floor (we have no coat closet) and let’s not forget that all nine of us share one small bathroom. The stress has been building for awhile, but came to a head after the birth of baby #7.

    So what did God do? He enabled us to enclose our carport. We are in the process of getting a second bathroom… and a coat closet… in addition to the extra room.

    As a bonus, we get our bedroom back and we don’t have to sleep on couches anymore.

    I am a chronic worrier, and I complain plenty to boot. But the Lord in His mercy lets me vent for a moment or two, and then reminds me that truly, He’s got it under control. Somehow He managed to do a great job before I ever appeared on the scene, and He will continue to do the same amazing job He always has.

  22. Marian says

    Lots to share; no time. THANK YOU, though, for this post.

    p.s – Remember this lesson in labor, too =)

  23. Anonymous says

    Jen, thanks so much for this. I needed that reassurance more than you can know.

    I always love your blog, but your posts after the Great Delete of 2009 have consistently been among your best. Perhaps yet one more reason to trust in God’s plan… : )

    Sending love and prayers you await the birth of your baby.

  24. Anonymous says

    I had my first five (of eight now total..so far) in six years. I think it is ok to say, this is really hard, and to just be honest in it. God is honoring that honesty in your life. Because as I look back, I really think we needed to be honest or we could not have gotten thru it.

    So much of the early years is just formative. Purification, if you will. And you witness to it so well. It is very inspiring, and humbling as well. I rejoice in all the good things GOd has sent your way..but I really pray you get a break after this kid. I remember feeling very overwhelmed…it was painful.

  25. Jessica says

    You’re right about the fear . . . and expectations. Expectations is a big part of it for me. I want what I expect, and when I don’t get what I expect, I get scared, even if what came instead isn’t actually scary.

    And yes, I have a story like that. Four kids four and under, and it was one of the days when I didn’t understand why He thought I could handle twins, and I asked, wasn’t I supposed to have help, NO ONE IS HELPING ME! And then a friend of my mother’s, who I hadn’t talked to in ages, called, saying she was wondering how I was doing, and could she come over?

    And it wasn’t that she did so much, but knowing she was coming over got me moving again, and reminded me that it was okay, that I was cared for, that I could do what was in front of me to do. He didn’t have to send help, but He did. Just grace.

  26. Suzywoozy says

    I was feeling really stressed and fearful yesterday and today because of a new boss at work… And this morning at my prayer time I read today’s Gospel-

    The disciples had been worrying because they had forgotten the bread… and they’re all anxious, and bothered.. and He says-

    “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
    Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
    Are your hearts hardened?
    Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
    And do you not remember,
    when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
    how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”

    Mark 8

    He ‘s looked after me so many times before (especially with scary authority fiigures) and yet I get worried and stressed again and again…

    Do I not remember? Do I not understand?

    Thanks for the post, which spoke into my life.. again ๐Ÿ™‚ You are definitely guided by the Spirit for your writing and your experiences to touch so many so regularly.

  27. Beth (A Mom's Life) says

    What a wonderful post! I love those moments when God literally knocks at the door.

    Thanks for this great reminder to continue to trust in God.

  28. Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience says

    I say it countless times a day: “There are no emergencies. God’s got this under control. Just lean back into Him.”

    (I say if often to talk myself down, talk myself back to truth. I say it often because fear often strangles and stresses me.)

    Leaning back into His love casts our all fear…

    Much love to you, Jen,
    Ann

  29. Abigail says

    Such a great post. Thanks for sharing! My tactic is much less profound. When things get awful, I remind myself that "things will get better in fifteen minutes." I walk around like a nut case loudly repeating the phrase to myself and it never fails!

    If I'm completely BEYOND the end of my rope with 3 kids loudly screaming in public, or one kid completely lost in Target, or whatever current emergency is taxing all of physical and spiritual muscles & within fifteen minutes the situation is better.

    Just as you said, either the kids stop crying or fighting, the babysitter shows up at the door or I just get an unexpected shot of grace. My goal now is just to keep going fifteen more minutes BEYOND the beyond of my limits– to try and stay out of sin as best as I can, and trust that 'things will get better in fifteen minutes."

  30. Sarah D says

    Perfect post for me to read today. I think the notion fear is so true.

    Gosh, I with I could remember right now a specific incident when God answered my prayers, but he answers them all the time. I honestly believe I live a life with God walking beside me.

    I mess up big time a lot, but I believe in His love and forgiveness so deeply that sometimes my prayer is nothing more than a deep sigh.

    That fear you speak of creeps up more than I wish, but the longer I walk with God, the less time the fear sticks around.

  31. Jennifer says

    Wow. What a great post. I have had many days like this, one being just yesterday! It was full of tantrums, injuries, and mishaps, and not once did I even think to pray! It always seems to happen on these days, that I can’t remember to even ask God, who is really the only one around that COULD possibly help me, for help. Thanks for the reminder.
    http://www.teamcross.typepad.com

  32. Hope T. says

    I was in the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. I had been in pain for a week because the ruptured appendix was misdiagnosed at first. My toddler had to be suddenly weaned because of the medication, surgery, hospital stay, etc.
    I was undone physically because I was in pain and hot and unable to sleep and I could not get out of bed without help due to the pain and the “stuff” that was attached to me. There was no one available to even get a cool rag for my head.
    I was undone emotionally because I felt a great amount of stress had led me to this point. (I don’t know many people who would agree with this but I believe that stress caused my appendix to rupture.)
    I was undone spiritually because I was lying in bed staring at the crucifix (Catholic hospital) and I could not understand why there was still so much stuffering in the world when Christ had already suffered for us. I could hear the screams of other patients begging for help and the inability of the overstretched nursing staff to help them or me. I wracked my brain trying to figure this out and I was very close to the breaking point.
    After the second night, when I did not know how to go on anymore, an angel of a nurse came on duty. I can’t tell you how amazed I was to have her come in and tell me that it was her first week on the job so therefore, she was only assigned to two patients, and I was one of them. She said she would get me on pain meds so I could get up and walk around which was so necessary after abdominal surgery. She asked me what the surgeon had said and when she heard that I had not seen the surgeon since the operation, she left the room to make a call and MINUTES later the intern, resident, and the surgeon himself were in my room. How a nurse on her first day of work accomplished that, I will never know. She helped me with everything including talking about my kids with me and telling me that she had young children too and how hard it must be for me to be away from them and what a great mom I must be. Since at the time I felt like a worthless mom, that alone was balm to my soul. This God-sent nurse changed everything for me; God seemed so far away but He had sent this nurse to bind some of my wounds. It is strange to think that if I had been correctly diagnosed the week before and had the operation then, she would not have been there yet. I never got a chance to thank her properly. I only know her first name was Kim so Kim, if by some miracle you are reading this, THANK YOU.

  33. Anonymous says

    Great post Jennifer. I agree on the fear and trust connection.
    I too struggle with trusting God. It is easy to fall into the trap that if we practice and live our faith that He will just take care of us and nothing bad will happen. The reality is bad things do happen to good people, but it doesn’t mean God doesn’t care or isn’t there to help us. I tend to fall into the trap of using God as a vending machine- if I put in so many prayers, sacrifices, etc then good things will come out of my life.

    I’ve been feeling stressed for a while, and struggling to trust in God. No one has knocked on my door, but God has definitely been using my children to speak to me.
    Right before Valentine’s Day I was fearful and stressed about a situation. My 5 year old came up with a homemade Valentine Card folded up for me. She said, “Here Mommy, I made this for you.” I opened it and instead of the usual hearts and flower drawings was a large heart. On one side of the large heart she had drawn several smaller hearts resembling the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and on the other side of the large heart were small hearts resembling the Immaculate Heart of Mary. My daughter explained the large heart was mine and then she had drawn Jesus and Mary’s hearts around mine. Immediately the prayer: “Oh Sacred Heart of Jesus I place my trust in You ” came to mind and I was filled with peace. I can’t imagine what made my 5 year old daughter draw that except as an inspiration from the Holy Spirit. It isn’t like we have those images prominently displayed in our homes (yet), nor had we been discussing them recently. I think I’ll keep that drawing forever.

  34. Christine says

    I had 4 in seven yrs and they grow up fast. It is still hard….just a different hard. Never think that it is better on the other side of the fence. Really enjoy now because it does all pass.

  35. Renee says

    Babies don’t stress me, their needs are a part of life. What does stress me is what people think of my house or when I look disheveled with baby drool on my shoulder.

    Off topic…. I scrolled down your side bar to find you were one of the top religion blogs on blogger….

    http://topsites.blogflux.com/religion/

    I found humor of who was right below you.

    #5
    “Et Tu?”
    The diary of a former atheist.
    #6
    Atheist Revolution
    Religious belief is a destructive force that causes far more harm than good. Atheist Revolution is a blog dedicated to breaking free from irrational belief and opposing Christian extremism in America.

  36. heartafire says

    What a fantastic post—
    For me, you hit the nail on the head when you noted the difference between the *fear* of it being too much to handle v. the reality that it had not yet been too much to handle.
    Even when I recount my days to my husband sometimes he will say, “Wow—what a lot to get done” or “How could you manage that?” and I realize, Hey, it wasn’t bad at all; I just *thought* it was too much.

  37. heartafire says

    One last thing (sorry for the multiple posts!) was something an older friend told me when my little people were toddlers: “The days are long, but the years are short.”
    It is so true. There is rarely a day where I don’t have cause to remind myself of this.

  38. Elizabeth says

    Great post.

    I had a similar moment the other night. Baby screaming, screaming, screaming, REFUSING to sleep having had all normal comforts. (He’s a year old by the way.) Me to God: ‘I cannot cope with this! And if you think I’m ever having another baby [we’ve got 4] you’ve got another think coming!’

    Baby did fall asleep, then stayed asleep for 7 hours. Longest ever.

    OK, God, the joke’s on me.

  39. LauraAnne says

    For me, my moment like that was at the end of 2004. I was mired in a horrible marriage with an immoral man. He was in an actual prison, and I was in a metaphorical one. I knew I had to get out but I didn’t know how. So I started to pray the liturgy of the hours and go to church. The first Sunday there was a signup sheet for the parish dinner, and I signed up to attend. In that sunday’s bulletin there was an announcement about some emergency preparedness classes that were going to be starting the same night as the dinner! How convenient!

    That might I met the man God put on this earth for me. He was teaching the class and terribly bitter about God. He wasn’t going to come and teach this class, because it was being held in a church. A Catholic one no less, and had already said no. He said that he hadn’t been able to sleep that night because it was haunting him and called the Red Cross the next day to say he would teach it.

    That was 5 years ago. I divorced the first man, and have been married to Jeff for 4 years in July!

    God is so good to us… even when we aren’t exactly following Him the way we should be. Even now, my new marriage is not yet blessed and my husband is still somewhat bitter… but not as badly as before. I just keep praying and I know that He will fix it to his liking. Not quite with the timing I’d like, but His time takes precedence. I wait in joyful hope.

  40. Laura says

    I can totally relate to sitting on the couch and staring straight ahead wondering how I was going to go forward. It is a feeling I can feel just typing about it. Well, I’m still here and still sane, so somehow God does pull us through it. Thanks for sharing this great post.
    God Bless!

  41. Becca says

    oh my goodness, this is exactly what I needed to hear today. My grandmother passed away earlier this week, i have a 5 month old baby, and then I got the flu so I couldn’t go to the funeral with my family . . . it’s just one of those times where I feel like maybe God didn’t realize but ‘this is too much’ . . . Even though it’s not and I know it’s not and i know that even now He is sustaining me. So thanks for the encouragement and also for the insight — I appreciate it and cherish it! ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks!

  42. 'Becca says

    I felt called to write one of my stories about this sort of thing (it even has to do with pregnancy) just this week. I completely agree about the need to trust God when you feel overwhelmed.

    But I have to ask: Do you really NEVER find yourself in one of these two situations? If you do, what do you do? (Pray, of course. Anything else?)

    1. You feel you just can’t take any more. And then you get more. And more. Eventually you do get through it, but no miracle comes to save you; it takes all the hard work you thought it would, and it doesn’t bring you any insight more profound than just, “Huh, I guess I could handle it after all, sort of; at least we’re all still alive and nothing exploded.”

    2. You’re about to take a break for something pleasant and relaxing, such as date night, but you fear you don’t deserve it and agonize over all the things that will be going undone while you’re having fun. Possibly you wind up NOT having fun because you feel so guilty and worried about when you’re going to get to all that stuff.

    Sorry to raise these possibilities just when you need to be in “God will help me out” mode…but I’m hoping that your serene solutions to them will give you confidence, as well as helping fellow stress-monkeys like me! Oh, and be sure to reread your post about finding grace just before your last birth, and post a link for newer readers who didn’t see it.

  43. Emily says

    I’m a very tired mom with a two year-old and a colicky newborn who doesn’t sleep. This post is exactly what I needed to read, and I’ve found myself thinking about it all week in those moments when I want to break. So much of my anxiety is fear that it won’t get better soon enough. One of these days I’ve got to sleep longer than two hours in a row, and in the middle of the night and the morning, that thought is so depressing and I get so upset worrying how long it’ll be before my baby can sleep for longer than two hours. But then God will give me something, a beautiful day, a playdate with a friend.. or the other day, I was sobbing as I was holding my son, feeling totally overwhelmed and mad that he wouldn’t stop screaming… and he looked up at me and gave me his first real smile! Little moments like that have gotten me through it, and I’m turning to God more than I was before. I know that this season is for me to need him more. Thank you so much for your words, they are a blessing to me.

  44. Anonymous says

    The problem with consuming anxiety is that you forget to pray as if everything depended on you and work as if everything depended on God – the Jesuits were remarkably successful in defending the Faith until they reversed this maxim.

  45. Ronnie and Leah says

    Amen! Amen! Amen!
    This year, God has really been calling me to trust him-in everything.

    It’s hard.

    I have so much to be thankful for, yet I doubt. Why is that? Why do we think that God is a man that he should lie?

    Oh, Lord, help me trust you more.

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