I heard it at least 50 times and from just about everyone I know last week. I am…Overwhelmed. And not the good kind of overwhelmed either. It was the kind of statement that was usually followed by a string of possibilities at remeding a monumental impending fallout.
I myself often feel overwhelmed. We all have a lot of roles we play. Mother, wife, sister, friend, leader, student, co-worker, boss, etc. On average we are anywhere between 2 and 5 of those at any given time on any given day. Realizing that, its a wonder any of us are anything other than overwhelmed.
Here is the thing about overwhelm, its exhausting and lonely. Overwhelm, in that sense anyway, feels like the whole world is resting on your shoulders. It feels like failure and defeat. It feels like the voice in your head that says “I told you so” is right. It feels like the very last straw…you know, the one that actually breaks the camels back.
Side note…is it always the same camel? or like camels in general? Because camels are incredibly strong. It would take a lot of straw. Unless it was the same camel…and then I am afraid he would be buried by all that straw well before it would break his back. Just sayin’.
I got to wondering… what is the remedy for overwhelm? Yes yes, I know what you are thinking. Make a list. Prioritize it. Delegate. Pray. Read the Bible. Spend time with God. Get on your mat. Blah Blah Blah. But all of those are short term modifications that rarely give lasting relief. In fact, if we commit to doing all the above and fall short, the tools we put in place to alleviate our overwhelm become the source of overwhelm themselves.
And so the hamster wheel spins.
Maybe the answer is to redefine overwhelm. Maybe (like most words) overwhelm has another meaning. Maybe if it meant something other than defeat, then when I used it, it would illicit a different response.
In Matthew 28, when Jesus gives the great commission and says “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The word baptize means (get this) to overwhelm. It also means to cleanse by submerging.
It seems as if The Lord is saying “ As my disciples, your inheritance gives you part with me in my authority. The authority that is over all of heaven and all of earth. Knowing that, go. Go wherever I have placed you. Working in whatever influence I have given you with whatever group of individuals I have placed you in. Overwhelm them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Clearly, paraphrase mine)
The word God uses for overwhelm in our co-mission with Christ spins our understanding, doesn’t it? To baptize is to overwhelm. The power of the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, overwhelms. It saturates and consumes but when it does, it brings LIFE. It breaks no backs nor buries its beloved. It defends and it defeats.
The next time I am feeling overwhelmed, I will choose to take Him at His Word and remember that He is able to do immeasurably more than anything I could ever hope for or imagine. Overwhelm has a new meaning, friends, and that is very good news.