I delight myself in you…Unashamed because of mercy. I’m overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed by you.
We made a Monday night, almost impulsive, decision to put our house on the market last week. Within twenty-four hours my walls were stripped clean of all family photos and by Thursday afternoon our house was transformed from a well-lived in home to a hotel ready for the next guest to inspect. In the five days that followed, we’ve had three showings plus a fourth scheduled for this evening. In real life terms this means that I’ve cleaned for exactly six days in a row. Did I mention we have four children, under the age of eight, and that they have a limited ability to conceptualize what mommy means when she says, “People are coming to look at the house. Don’t mess it up!”
Then I’ve got this church planting thing I’m wrestling. After almost four years I’m tired. Burnt out. Some days I think it’s too hard and I want to run far, far away…like maybe to the Cayman Islands. Okay, so I’d have to run and take a boat. That’s alright: I like boats. In fact, I’ve thought about trying to convince my husband to apply for a cruise ship job. Although he has limited nautical experience (I think he spent a few weeks on an aircraft carrier-I’m sure that counts), I’ve always been told I’d make a good cruise director. (Picture Vicki on the Love Boat. What a great job.) I’m certain the kids would get used to life on the ship after a few months. Although my oldest refuses to step foot on a boat of any kind. We could blindfold him. Hmm… Anyone have any connections with Royal Caribbean’s employment office?
On top of it all, there are these children and their constant needs. Some days you just want to sit down and eat your fried egg without being interrupted to wipe a bottom. You know? I feel blessed that they play so well together and are fairly easy, as far as children go. Though while trying to write this my youngest sits on the steps whining because he doesn’t like his outfit, meanwhile, my middle son–who recently discovered Captain Underpants– refuses to wear clothes at all, settling instead for underwear and a cape. Aside from all that…I have no complaints. Though, if I’m honest, I fight with more than just their wardrobe issues. The mommy guilt, “Am I doing enough?” anthem pulses through my thoughts.
Then there’s my own work–or ministry–or career–or whatever this is that I’m doing with writing and speaking. Leadership coaches would be so disappointed by my lack of focus, I realize. Some days I’m not sure what to call it. A hobby? A calling? Somewhere in between? I’m on month three of waiting for some definitive answers about my book’s future. I’m facing a schedule full of speaking engagements and increased anxiety at the prospect of talking to more women on the topic of body image because, frankly, combining my burnt out, fuzzy-brained state of mind and a microphone hasn’t worked out that well lately.
As an added bonus, my wellness doctor decided on Monday that I’m not “well” enough. My new “all natural” medication makes my heart race fast to the point where I occasionally feel like I’ve finished a 50 yard sprint without so much as taking a step. “The side effects will wear off in two weeks,” she says. Fantastic. I have two weeks to adjust. Sure. No problem…
Lord help me if I turn on the national news. There’s the lingering threat of Ebola at the hospital where I birthed may last two children…ISIS craziness…political upheaval…it’s all just a little…
After a mostly sleepless night and a 5:20am wake-up alarm (that I was already awake enough to turn off), I head to the gym to teach my spin class this morning. On my way home I hear this song by Big Daddy Weave called, “I’m Overwhelmed.” The words refresh me so much I can barely breathe them in fast enough. The part of my brain devoted to body image blogging starts functioning on high speed as I hear this line in the chorus:
Unashamed because of mercy.
And it occurs to me: Becoming overwhelmed is essential to finding freedom from body image bondage.
I spent many years being overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to change to get the body I wanted. Results couldn’t come fast enough. No diet could ever satisfy my internal timeline of when I wanted to lose the weight. No exercise program would ever shape and firm me as effectively and quickly as I preferred. Frequently, the frustration would mound, and I’d lose steam as the work just seemed too hard…Overwhelming, in fact.
But, now I know, my misplaced focus kept my heart in chains. I was overwhelmed by the wrong things…the wrong goals…I tend to race towards the wrong finish line. Often.
Truth is: we have no need to struggle with the way these physical bodies measure up to our culture’s standard of beauty because he has freed us to live unashamed. God looks at us through eyes filled with grace. His mercy allows for all of our imperfections.
Could the key to finding freedom be getting overwhelmed? I think so.
By becoming so in awe of how much grace he extends to us, we can extend the same grace to ourselves and others around us. If we lived as people truly liberated because of his mercy, we would have no need to compare, compete, or battle to be beautiful. We could truly rest in his presence and realize that our purpose here on earth is far greater than trying to achieve thigh gap or “perfect body” status.
The chorus of this same song repeats a line about God’s beauty. I am reminded that his is the only beauty I should chase. Not the kind of beauty sold to me from every angle.
I can forget all of my struggles…all of my worries…and all of my overwhelm if I can keep the big picture in mind. His is the beauty that matters. My messy life, my uncertain future, my day-to-day trials, they all rest in his hands.
I get home and watch the video to the song that inspires me. Tears fill my eyes as I watch images of children in a country far away living in conditions I could never fathom. Suddenly trying to keep my 2,500 square foot home sparkly clean, deciding what to wear to my next speaking engagement, medications to make me “weller,” and a four-year-old who won’t wear pants don’t seem so important…
Watch the video for “I’m Overwhelmed” by Big Daddy Weave here. (Use link if it doesn’t appear below.)