“Life’s too busy. I can’t do it all. I’m not enough. I’m overwhelmed!” These statements feel like the new normal, don’t they? But do they really have to be? As a mom of five as well as author, blogger, entrepreneur, and former White House staffer, Kay Wills Wyma certainly knows the pressures to do it all and be it all that affect us all at some point—and more and more are reaching into our kids’ lives as well. But Kay has learned a secret about the battle against Life’s Overwhelmed: the power of flipping Overwhelmed upside down and being overwhelmed by Truth instead. Kay is as real as it gets when it comes to sharing her story and hard-won wisdom in her new book Not the Boss of Us: Putting Overwhelmed in Its Place in a Do-All, Be-All World, and it’s a joy to welcome her to share with you here today…
“There’s a side to you I never knew, Kay Wyma,” my friend Brooke said as she smiled.
We were last to leave the morning gathering.
“Yes,” she continued, “I learned a few things about you last week—from your car.”
New things about me from my car? My mind raced to grab hold of anything tangible that might give me a clue.
Then I remembered. Oh my goodness. My car!
She had been so very nice the week before to run to my car to grab something for me.
I had been on deck to lead our Tuesday Bible study on heaven. Introductions of the morning had been made, the makeshift recording had started, when I realized I didn’t have my book.
I saw Brooke and whispered, “Hey, could you run to my car and grab my book?”
Johnny-on-the-spot, she jumped right up and turned for the door. Then she asked, “What do you drive?”
“The dented white Sequoia parked on the far right.”
Yes, still dented from the time a nice young man had crashed into us a few years earlier.
She slipped me my book upon returning, and I didn’t think any more of it at the time. But as I stood in front of Brooke and my mind raced to put together the “I’ve learned a few things about you” pieces, it didn’t take me long.
She’d seen the inside of my car and duly noted its appearance. Though our car’s outside has issues of its own, the inside—now that’s raw.
I mean, it was summer. Kids, kids, and more kids had been in and out of that thing.
The weathered (some might say torn) seats, the wrappers, the Slurpee cup that may or may not have sat in a cup holder for a week, the swim towels, the extra shoes—one waterproof pair, which came in handy at Costco the other day when a storm blew in and I didn’t want to ruin my new sandals—the list really could go on.
The inside of my car—like the inside of our closets, refrigerators, drawers, etc.—had added a new dimension to her knowledge of me.
I guess she learned that I’m not lying when I say I haven’t got it all together.
She got to see up close and personal our very regular life as a family of seven.
We come with lots of love and few expectations of perfection, sprinkled with a dash of procrastination for good measure.
Yes, my car said much to my dear friend Brooke. “The torn seats?” I asked her.
“Yeah,” she sweetly replied. “And a little more.”
Brooke’s nodding smile warmed my soul. And all the wonderful aspects of authentic friendship washed over me.
And I melted into vulnerability and acceptance. She was meeting me in the midst — not running away or gasping or whispering.
She wasn’t judging me.
And so I refused to judge myself.
I held tight to the thoughts that tempted me to freak out. You know the ones. She saw our mess! What must she think of me? Everyone else has their stuff together. What’s wrong with us?
“I love you even more,” she announced.
I think the key for most of us is not only ditching the judgment of others but also slowing down the often misguided, overly harsh labeling and judgment of themselves.
Why don’t we determine to train ourselves and our kids to see ourselves in the light of how God sees us? To focus our attention on striving for excellence as it relates to our best—not the best.
To let God’s light rather than culture inform what we see in the mirror. To consider perspective rather than latch on to a glimpse.
Instead of giving in to image pressures, why not remember that we’re actually created, as human beings, to be image bearers.
Rather than give an inch to tempting thoughts that drift toward comparing someone else’s life with our own, let’s gravitate toward gratitude for all we have and were created with unique purpose and gifting to be.
Because almost every image the world throws at us has the good, the bad, the ugly, and lots of regular just below the surface.
And the people in the picture also have spectacular gifts woven deep within, making them who they are rather than who they may think they need to be.
It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by pressures and expectations in our do-all, be-all world.
Even though there’s no easy fix, reminding ourselves of Truth can go a long way.
When we wake up with heaviness or start to feel overwhelmed during the day, we can recognize it for what it is and call it out.
Rather than letting threatening thoughts take root, we can speak Truth to ourselves—or listen to one of those authentic, nonjudgmental friends I hope you have in your life too—and instead be overwhelmed by the life-giving perspective of God’s grace and peace and love.
Ditch the self-judgment.
Remember who created you.
And trust that He sees every bit of your life, and He loves you even more than you can imagine.
Torn seats and all.
Kay Wills Wyma, former White House staffer, international banker, and entrepreneur, is a mom of five who writes about seeing beyond life’s pressures in order to navigate life and thrive together. She is the author of three books and blogs at the popular themoatblog.com. Kay also hosts a video podcast with friends called the SaySomething Show. She has been featured on TODAY, CNN, and Focus on the Family, and has contributed to the NYT Motherlode, DMagazine, Thriving Families, and more.
Kay’s new book Not the Boss of Us: Putting Overwhelmed in Its Place in a Do-All, Be-All World offers a freeing new perspective on how to confront the pressures we face—at home, online, at work, in relationships, on our calendars—and replace all those heavy expectations with the liberating truth that we were made for something better.
[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]