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Re-framing Overwhelmed: See It -- Say It

04.12.18 | Parenting | by Kay Wyma

Re-framing Overwhelmed: See It -- Say It

    In the midst of hardship, unmet expectations, unfair and even unthinkable circumstances that can absolutely overwhelm – especially when our kids are involved – dare we look beyond to see more? I loved that my friend was fighting to do just that.

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    Author, blogger, and mother of five Kay Wyma has learned that if we're going to be overwhelmed by anything, let's have it be truth with all its grace, hope, peace, and love. Through her inspiring personal stories sprinkled with a dash of humor, she will give parents permission to step back, let go, and find fulfillment and freedom in a life lived in light of eternity.

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    Things in today’s culture absolutely overwhelm us.

    In my world, with five tween/teen kids, overwhelmed lurks in school halls where grades, test scores, expectations, teams, friend groups, and resume building – either for a college application or job – threaten to steal joy and peace, since enough seems ever elusive with regard to all we need to do. Add that to our own stress and pressures and we might feel like we’re drowning.

    So, lots of chats with kids about perspective and truth – especially about what anchors our identity and self-worth – are had in the kitchen or car. I might have also, once or twice, been caught yelling out of the car a little reminder about the world’s ways, “This stuff is not the boss of you!”

    Because even though there’s no easy fix, re-framing and reminding ourselves of Truth can go a long way. What if we could take overwhelmed’s negative nature and diffuse it or, better yet, flip it to good? 

    How do we make that happen? It involves talking.

    See It

    When we wake up with heaviness or start to feel overwhelmed during the day, recognize it for what it is and call it out.

    I recently had coffee with a friend whose marital situation had taken an unexpected turn. She has lived some hard days of unmet expectations and loads of heart-hurt both for herself and her daughter since her husband left. Finding solid ground has been a challenge over the last couple of years, especially for a mom who so desperately longs to shield her kid.

    Even though I’m not traveling the same road, I understand. We all have life-twists that can leave us weak and wondering – territory that should never be entered alone.

    While I grabbed our order, she glanced through her phone.

    By the time I got to the table with our steaming hot, heart-foam-laden lattes, she looked a bit down, feeling overwhelmed.

    Say It

    Thankfully, she felt safe and able to be honest.

    “I just saw a pic, and I have to say my heart aches.” She couldn’t stop herself from allowing a picture of smiling happy couples inform her situation. “It’s ridiculous, I know, but I look at them and want to be them. And I’m reminded I’m not.”

    Rather than let the threatening thoughts take root, we talked aloud about truth – that is equally at hand – opting instead to be overwhelmed with life-giving perspective.

    “You know that’s just a picture,” I reminded her. “It’s a moment, not the whole story. Remember my family’s Christmas card?”

    We all know that pics are simply a moment, far from reality, that includes a backstory for everyone. A little reminding goes a long way.

    She nodded.

    “Yeah, well there was a lot more going on in the background of that genuinely terrific photo – including lots of crabby, a few tears, and even some boys who decided to sneak off into the storm drains. It’s amazing we even got a picture.”

    Overwhelmed begins to be reframed to truth. Truth that the people in those pictures matter, they’re just people who feel the same way we all do. Truth that what is going on in someone else’s life isn’t informing or defining ours. Truth that we are seen, known, and loved by the those who walk alongside us, but more importantly by God. Truth that solid footing can be found even on shaky ground.

    In the most beautiful way, my friend takes it home – beyond the picture to Hope.

    "I’ve read," she said, "that God takes ashes and makes them beautiful. And, I guess I’m getting to see it happen even in our seemingly horrible circumstances.”

    She went on to tell me about her daughter and around twelve of her friends who have a safe group-text where they have committed to be honest and discrete. “They even have a safe word—a regular word that means, ‘Something is going on. I don’t want to talk, but I need to. Someone call me.’ So my daughter did and does. It’s amazing watching her help people.”

    In the midst of hardship, unmet expectations, unfair and even unthinkable circumstances that can absolutely overwhelm – especially when our kids are involved – dare we look beyond to see more? I loved that my friend was fighting to do just that.

    “I mean a group of teenage girls’ refusal to play the game or to be victims to things like people talking behind their backs or hurting each other’s feelings or even much bigger issues has been proof to me that love is alive even in great disappointment.”

    See it—recognize that something heavy is weighing in and threatening to steal the moment.

    Say it—call out overwhelmed and start to re-frame it by countering the world’s messaging with Truth.

    Because why give stress and pressure-laden overwhelmed more ground than it deserves? Instead, be overwhelmed by Truth with all its grace and hope and peace and love. The things that actually are the boss of us.

    And breathe.


    Portions were taken from Kay's latest book coming out in August: Not the Boss of Us: Putting Overwhelmed in It's Place in a Do-All, Be-All World (Revell 8/18)


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