2020 has brought so many life changes to my household that I have been overwhelmed. I consider myself an easy going person, but when the “going” is different than I am used to, easy is not my descriptor. If I were one of Snow White’s little friends, they’d call me Frazzle.
I don’t like being frazzled, it feels tight and tiring in my body. I much prefer the calm and collected, peaceful version of myself so, there are lengths I will go to avoid feeling distraught. Sometimes I pick up my pace by doing physical work. At other times, I zone out or distract myself with media. Sounds like a version of flight or freeze, doesn’t it? Mmmm Hmmm.
Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines overwhelmed as: “completely overcome or overpowered by thought or feeling.” Synonyms for this term include oppressed, overpowered, deluged, engulfed and inundated.
Yup. All those words sound familiar, and all because of the unexpected events that have come my way. I am unnerved because the patterns of my life have been disrupted.
Does that make me a control freak?
Truth says yes, but grace says no.
By definition, my reaction to events outside what’s anticipated appear to fit this condemning label. If I have to know ahead of time what is coming, to be a tolerable person, then perhaps I have a problem with control (even if I know I am in control of very little). If the truth is all that matters, based on my recent short fuse and quick tears, I would be convicted of being a control freak.
But grace steps in and wants to look more closely at the evidence presented. Grace submits Exhibit A, an exceptionally long list of stressful events.
Dartmouth College, an ivy league research university in New Hampshire, published a Life Change Index Scale or Stress Test in which an individual can tally a score of how “stressed out” they are. This measurement tool can be used to predict how likely a person is to become sick. It states:
“The body is a finely timed instrument that does not like surprises. Any sudden change stimuli which affects the body, or the reordering of important routines that the body become used to, can cause needless stress, throwing your whole physical being into turmoil.”
The scale runs from “less than 150” (indicating a 30% increased likelihood of succumbing to illness) to “over 300” (80% increased chance of becoming sick). I scored just under 500! No wonder I am frazzled!
The Bible describes grace as God’s unmerited favor towards man. The book of Romans (especially chapters 4 and 5) talk at length about how God pardons His people of the ugly things they do because of His great love for them. He knows who we are, children trying to figure out how life works, and He forgives us when we get it wrong and are upset. He does not walk out on us expecting more maturity.
This is grace.
Thank you, grace, for coming to my defense when it felt like truth was beating me down! You give me license to be a work in progress!
Truth can seem unkind with hard lines of legalism. Sometimes, when I am not doing well, I get trapped in truth’s vicious cycle of “You should know better!” My own bony finger of shame poking incessantly in my face.
This past year some specific wording in Hebrews 12:1-2 stuck out to me in addressing my issues with shame:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Emphasis mine)
Jesus despises shame. Why? Because it contributes to the problem that Jesus has already solved. Why, then, do I keep bringing it up?
I am a work in progress…practicing surrender and grace. As much as I’d like less frazzle in my life, maybe I just need more grace. I suppose, that if I am practicing grace, I must be growing in it. I hope so!
If you are overwhelmed and feeling like the stressors of this year have oppressed you, lets hold hands and encourage each other with words of grace.
It’s ok to get frazzled.
Let’s try again!
May grace abound in all of us today!
P.S. Here’s the link to that Stress Test!