Powerful cocktails of emotions like fear, stress and anxiety gang up to leave my mind feeling that I am on shaky ground. Often it can be in response to life situations which actually are fearful, stressful and anxious and the overwhelming feeling should tell us something, but most times it just makes us fall to pieces.
The average individual now holds the same level of anxiety as a 1960's mental patient - life is stressful and sometimes it can be overwhelming. It's a symptom of our culture, but it's a culture we live in - we either need good responses to it or to get out altogether.
The truth is that we all can get overwhelmed sometimes - we hit sections of life where our fears, anxieties and stress levels combine into one powerful punch to knock us off our feet. The unfortunate thing is that it doesn't have to be this way.
Feeling overwhelmed whilst more common now, is not a new phenomenon. The great news is that the answer to being overwhelmed is not new either - it is as old as Psalm 61 verse 2.
Before we look further into the answer, let's look at the three most common reactions to being overwhelmed.
1. We blame ourselves.
The #1 functional belief for most Aussies is karma.
What goes around comes around, good things happen to good people etc.
By that principle alone, if tough times hit it's because you are at fault.
You alone are responsible for the situation. If you just worked harder or better or more efficient or with more love or with less mistakes then you wouldn't be in this mess.
Christians especially can spiritualize this kind of karma.
If I had just been more faithful, this would not have happened. If I had prayed harder or read my bible, I would not be feeling like this.
This blame-game response is not helpful though, in fact it starts to destroy whoever starts to play it.
It leads us into a vicious cycle of performancism. You can work hard, be a 'good' person and have a positive impact - but how hard do you have to work for life to work in your favour, how good do you have to be?
Aren't you tired yet?
2. We blame God
There was a study done recently about the beliefs of young people in America- trying to work out what the most common belief was. The study found that the most common belief of America's youth was Moral Therapeutic Deism.
What is that?
The belief is moral because it's mainly about being good, nice and fair to each other as taught by all the world religions. It's therapeutic, as it doesn't matter really what you believe as long as it makes you happy. It's deism because they believe in a higher being, just not the God defined by any major world religions.
In short, 'God' wants us to be good, happy and to not stress too much about everything.
If we pray and do all the right things, God will bubble-wrap our lives because he wants us to be happy. What happens when this world-view interacts with the real-world is that people get disillusioned and they blame God.
God was meant to deliver and he didn't.
That totally overlooks the fact that there is real and positive growth that can occur from being overwhelmed. Looking back over my life, it's through the periods that I was overwhelmed that I grew the most.
Maybe God did deliver, just not the way that I expected.
3. We ignore reality.
The last common reaction to stress and anxiety is to just pretend it doesn't exist.
This is especially played out on Facebook and Twitter.
On all of these social media networks you don't have to show reality.
I have seen friends who are going through breakups, tough times at homes, stressful situations and they post up statuses and photos that ignore what is going on.
'Just getting an ice-cream #lifecouldnotgetbetter #lovingit
Thing don't go away when you ignore them, they just get bigger.
Surely there is a better way?
The words that have been written on my mind lately hold the answer to every single instance of being overwhelmed.
"When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I". Psalm 61 verse 2.
The bible is filled with people who were constantly overwhelmed - constantly.
Maybe, just maybe, this is because being overwhelmed shows us our need for God. Rather than throwing blame around or ignoring it all together, we should run to the God who created every single emotion.
Culture tells us to work harder or to find someone to blame - the bible says tough times will come, run to the rock that is higher.
Late last week, overwhelmed and emotionally spent I sat in bed numb after a tough week. Talking to my wife, she only had to say five words for my heart to complete the scripture and find rest in a God who understands.
"When my heart is overwhelmed…lead me to the rock that is higher than I".
James Young moved to the west of Melbourne to follow God's call on his life to tell young people about the greatest message they could ever hear – the gospel. On his days off, he seeks pain on a road bike, blissful beats by listening to Beautiful Eulogy and Trip Lee and relaxing with his beautiful wife Sarah. You can see more of his writing @radicalchange2010.com and follow him at @ragingzephyr on twitter.
James Young's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/james-young.html