The Overwhelming

Overwhelming. Big word. Dictionary meaning:  The act of covering over completely, to destroy, crush, bury under a mass of something, submerge, to load, heap, treat or address with an overpowering amount of anything, to overthrow. From the middle English over+whelm where the meaning is to engulf completely.

I’ve had moments, days, weeks, and months, sometimes years, where I’ve been overwhelmed. During those times, I have learned, I put on blinders and tucked my shoulder in to the wind and soldiered on because there was nothing else for it. At least here on earth. I have been close to inconsolable many times, yet not totally submerged for long enough that I became totally unresponsive.  Close but….

I have a feeling if you are still reading- you understand. You get what I mean by what I’ve said above; and you get it still more when I say just putting one foot in front of the other is just about all I can do when I’m overwhelmed. And that’s only when the Overwhelming has abated a bit-like the tide receding.

You know the reason for the Overwhelming is really immaterial. It’s the response that matters. I have found myself curled up on the bed, covers over my head, in a fetal position for hours; I have found myself ranting and raving in defiance over it; I have found myself pressing on through it by working long hours; and I have found myself awakening to relief that it is over-for now. And after I’ve done one of the above, I’ve given thanks to God for getting me through it once again.  But I have never been overwhelmed by Joy- except once. Well, maybe more than once. But, never to the point where I’ve been speechless.

Happiness, sure I’ve had happiness, but such a fleeting flirt it is. Here today. Gone tomorrow. True, deep, abiding (living within) joy-not so much. The hallmark moments- marriage, children, home, work, all have had caveats and sorrows attached.

To be able to wake each morning with “a song in my heart” – as I envision true Joy- has long been absent from my life. I think I’ve gone for such long periods of time without noticing that I lost the ability to realize its presence in the midst of the Overwhelming. That even when I’m not buried under the Overwhelming (read: trials, oppression, pressure, stress, etc.) I have mostly been unable to recognize that Joy within that fills the cup with its name on it; that has been shaken and is pressed down to where it overflows in song. That’s how I would like my joy to be represented. The Joy has always been here; I’ve just failed to notice it. I would like to be able to say daily, as David did: “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.” Psalm 65:8

What does your response to Overwhelming look like? Dear Friend, how long has it been since you sang for Joy? Thinking about it? Next time: What about Joy?

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