I choked back the lump rising in my throat because this wasn’t about me at all. This was a special adult baptism and dedication service, involving my daughter-in-law and grandson. But I couldn’t help feeling overwhelmed and overcome by emotion as I sat in church for the first time in years. Though my grandson’s welcoming hug helped enormously.
While others stood and sang tunefully loud and proud, I stayed seated, barely croaking out the words. Mostly whispering them to myself. My physical weakness has been affecting my voice for years with fading, huskiness and coughs whenever I speak too long. And singing, which I used to love, is usually beyond me now.
Tears sprang to my eyes as I felt the lack clashing with a strong desire to join in. It would have been easy to give in to them and sob out my inner pain. But I swallowed them back and sensed God reassuring me that He heard my heart singing His praises, anyway.
The electric atmosphere, excitement and importance of the occasion were enough to make me feel overwhelmed. But so was the recognition of my weakness and pain. Travelling had depleted me enormously, though we’d arrived a few days in advance of the service taking place. Sadness sat within as I ached to feel stronger and be less dependent on others.
A holy reminder that helped quell feeling overwhelmed
Then the Lord reminded me of His mercy and grace and how much I had learnt in the process of acceptance so far. Could I not simply be thankful for being here in this moment, this day? Could I appreciate this occasion as one of joy instead of struggle? Would I sacrifice my desires for the greater good? And might I allow others to serve me if need be?
These challenging questions circled around my mind as I tried to participate in what I could achieve. At the heart of my concerns lay a kernel of pride and independence, both of which were being hammered by my circumstances. Yet God graciously gave me the unexpected gift of having voice enough to join in with the final song. Hallelujah!
As the day advanced, I learnt how to relax in my state of weariness and weakness. It became easier when I received help without needing to ask for it. Although I might have thought I was being judged by others, they were actually kind and considerate. My own inner critic’s voice was the one giving me a hard time, not those present at the event.
Several lessons were absorbed in my soul that day. If you have had similar thoughts or experiences as a person struggling to cope with chronic illness, or know someone who is, then these useful tips might help. Because we can so easily become wearied and overwhelmed.
9 tips for when you feel overwhelmed
1. Plan well in advance of energy-sapping events.
2. Talk to God and family about how you are feeling.
3. Don’t let pride stop you from asking for or receiving help.
4. Focus more on what you can do than on what you can’t.
5. Be gracious, friendly, thankful and appreciative to others.
6. Find at least one thing you can do: showing up, being engaged, listening, praying, smiling, letting joy rule instead of self-pity.
7. Remember that others have their own battles to fight, so be understanding and kind.
8. Know when you’ve reached your limit and when to take a break.
9. Allow yourself all the time you require to recover some strength.
While I am grateful for these tips, I wish they had come to me before I went away! 😏 However, I am still in recovery mode, needing to take longer than I thought to recoup some strength, especially as I battle with fresh challenges.
We’re focusing on this topic because it’s M.E Awareness Month. If you’re uncertain what M.E is then this article will help you identify it. How do you cope when you are having to overexert yourself? What helps you get back on track? Do share in the comments below.