At first thought, the two feelings seem like an oxymoron. Joy is defined as the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. Overwhelmed has the meaning of being buried or drowned beneath a huge mass. How could someone possibly have happiness while at the same time feel as if they are drowning? Welcome to motherhood, to marriage, to family life. Now, these feelings have not always been present. There was a time when I had the “Overwhelmed” without the “Joyfully.” Finances were drowning us, pride was drowning us, impatience was drowning us, anger was drowning us, an assumption of how we should live to “fit in” was drowning us. Joy was not at all how I would describe my life. So, what changed? We hit bottom, and when that wasn’t far enough we started digging just to make sure we hit rock bottom. But, while we were there, in a pit of mud and mire, my husband and I finally called out to God. We not just asked for help with our situation, like our typical prayers had been, this time we cried out for forgiveness. We, for the first time, surrendered our lives to God, to have His way, not just our desires. He took our broken marriage and not just restored it, but made it new. He placed inside of us a new love for each other, for our children, and for others that we never knew before. Not everything was “magically” made well; there have still been financial struggles, at times I must put my pride in check, I still lose my patience (pretty much every day!), I get angry (but now it is not due to selfishness), that desire to “fit in” still occasionally rears its head. Real-life struggles still exist, toddlers still have “terrible-twos and threes and fours,” babies (and toddlers) still don’t sleep through the night, daughters still confide in me things that I would NEVER have imagined, spouses still lose jobs, and I still feel like hiding in the bathroom at times.
I no longer fear the circumstances that threaten to “overwhelm,” I can live my life Joyfully Overwhelmed because I am walking with the One who controls the waters.
The difference is now I’m not alone. At those moments when I feel like the circumstance is about to cover me, I cry out “Lord, save me!” and I realize that as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus, I can walk on the water. I no longer fear the circumstances that threaten to “overwhelm,” I can live my life Joyfully Overwhelmed because I am walking with the One who controls the waters.