in over my head
As I sat in a room listening to stories about what God is doing in the lives of each person present, I felt a burden of urgency. Not an urgency to share. Not an urgency to aid. There was only an urgency to listen and understand. These people range in age from their late teens to mid-thirties. And while each individual has a unique story, each of us are going to endure similar struggles, trials, blessings, and joyful moments at some point in our speedy lives.
This 2016 spring semester has been one that has encompassed each of the aforementioned nouns. It has been full of mountain peaks and canyon lows. But the issue at the center of my life has been the same for as long as I can remember: overcommitment.
What is overcommitment exactly? The definition that Google provided me with is, ”to oblige (oneself or others) to do more than one is capable of, as to repay a loan one cannot afford.” My entire life I have been living and doing things in a manner that parallels with owing someone something. My Dad always put it as “burning the candle at both ends.” I think that I always knew that I was doing this to myself, but I arrived at a point in my life where it became normal. I got to a point where I felt that if I was not doing something at every second of every day, then I was a lazy person.
Because of this feeling I filled my schedule with classes, meetings, activities, and events. If someone asked me to do something with them, I almost always said yes. It got to the point where I was waking up at 5:45/6:30 a.m. and falling asleep around 1:30/2:00 a.m. every night. Clearly, that amount of sleep each night did nothing but drain me further.
I became ineffective in my friendships and relationships. The students that I was helping to lead in the youth ministry were not receiving the attention that they deserved. I was spending less and less time with my family. I had filled my life with so many extras that I was suffocating on my own life. I could not get the grip of an overwhelmed and overflowing schedule unclenched from my neck. It controlled every aspect of my days.
Many people had told me what I was doing to myself without me even bringing it up. Many people could easily observe what was happening, but I was so prideful and ignorant that I discounted their observations and efforts to help me see what God was so clearly pointing out the entire time. I got so overwhelmed in the 2015 fall semester that I had a panic attack because I was not doing something one day. For once, I was sitting at home with nothing to do, and I had a panic attack.
It took a semester that started off with the stark realization that where I sat was miles from where God needed me. It was like the lights were switched on in an old, disgusting basement. I suddenly saw the clutter and cobwebs that infested my life and made it what it was. I suddenly saw what I was doing to myself and to the ones I cared so much for. This realization came about because I had gotten so worn down that all I could do was cry, “Abba, Father!” Jesus cried “Abba, Father!” to God as He hung on the cross because of the distress Jesus was under. Abba is essentially the equivalent to calling of early father “daddy.” It is a childish, desperate cry.
When I finally realized that for the entirety of my overcommitted life I had tried so hard to do everything I possibly could, my eyes were opened. I tried to do as much as I could to show people that I was trustworthy, loyal, important, good, and willing to do anything for them. Do you know who the only perfecter of those qualities is? Jesus Christ. He is the only one that is perfectly trustworthy, loyal, important, good, and willing to do anything for anyone at anytime.
You see, for the longest time I had attempted to be the go-to person for everyone, when really the only go-to person that we will ever need is Jesus Christ. He is the only thing we truly need in this life. He doesn’t need us, but He chose us. It takes us realizing that we don’t have to worry about doing the right thing at every moment of every day. We will always screw up. However, grace is not a get-out-of-jail-free card to do whatever our hearts desire to do. Our hearts are wicked and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). But God did give us grace to cover our sins. Perfect, amazing, and just grace.
I think that the majority of Jesus followers have believed the lie that we must do everything we can to make sure that we never ever sin, and I think that we have believed the lie that when we do sin, God wants nothing to do with us. That is a complete lie from the enemy. Every single time we stumble, God picks us up, brushes us off, and looks at us with love saying, “look at how far you’ve come!”
Something that I have really struggled with is the fact that I am His beloved son with whom He is well pleased (Matt. 3:16-17). Those verses talk about Jesus being baptized, and through that, God looks at His only son and is well pleased. God is well pleased with us who abide and trust in Him. We will fall and stumble, but He is so pleased with where we are going because we trust in His guidance that He forgives us of forgets our sin (Hebrews 10:17)! How remarkable!
I wrote this because the Lord told me to. I was driving home from sitting in that room listening to the stories about what God is doing in each of the lives of the people around me, and God gave me a desire to jot down a big part of my life for others to see. I know that those of us in college get overwhelmed quite easily amongst our classes, jobs, clubs, activities, and friends. None of those things are bad! Please know that! But also know that rest is important. Alone time is important. And above all, time spent with Him is important.
I am currently in a transition period. The excavating has begun. I am under construction, and I always will be. I pray that I never reach a point in my life where I feel as if I have arrived at some sort of finished point. I never want to think that I won’t need refining anymore. I want to constantly be shaped by His gentle hands.
There is a song by Bethel Music (check them out!) called “In Over My Head (Crash Over Me)”, and one of the lines says, “I’m standing knee deep, but I’m now where I’ve never been. And I feel you coming, and I hear your voice on the wind.” That is such a beautiful picture of where God has brought me. I used to be in over my head in my own efforts. Now I’m in over my head in His love, compassion, forgiveness, grace, mercy, faithfulness, steadfastness, generosity, and so many more attributes that would take pages to list. Thanks be to God.