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When You Feel Overwhelmed by Everything You Need to Fix

One morning, I sat down to read Psalms and I found myself thinking about what I had read in Romans the previous night. I’m reflecting on what a mind “governed by the Spirit” looks like, and how I can practice that in every day life. And then I’m thinking about how I need to be better at being grateful and praising God. And then I’m thinking about being a better daughter, spreading the Gospel more, oh, and seeking the Lord’s will in all of my mundane tasks.

And then I started shutting down.

Lately I've found myself getting stuck on all the ways that I need to improve as a Christian. I recognize the areas of my life that I'm struggling with, but instead of settling and resting in grace, I jump to striving and fixing. I attempt to create a game plan of how I'm going to do this, how I'm going to change, so that my life and my behavior looks like what I think the Lord wants it to.

This game plan has yet to work. It has yet to bring me any genuine growth or even strengthen my relationship with Jesus. I only find myself more discouraged and defeated. Back to square one.

At square one, the Holy Spirit reminds me that if I could fix myself, there would have been no need for the cross. I can't fix myself - even the best attempts won't be successful - and so Jesus had to die so that my imperfection wouldn't separate me from Him anymore. There's a quiet whisper in my heart, calling me to be still, to just be present with Jesus, and to surrender the to-do list. I'm encouraged to pursue my Savior instead of better behavior - to breathe, to let it go, and allow Him to help me.

As I sit in this place and I pray, I learn that to strive only for my life to look the way I think God wants it to would be to settle. It would mean becoming a robot of sorts, sacrificing the beautiful mess of growth and healing. It would mean falling into the Old Testament patterns that the Israelites found themselves in, striving and striving to obey all these rules but missing communion with the Father.

And I think about the disciples and the lives that they lived. I think about how they were so committed, so all in for Jesus, but they were far from perfect. They wrestled with anger and doubt and impurity, just like me. They messed up and failed, but they loved Jesus with all their hearts, and He loved them. I think about how Jesus didn't come for us to conform to the same patterns in the Old Testament, but how He invited us to become His disciples, to follow Him around and sit at His feet and learn and make mistakes and repent.

I'm learning to surrender the to-do list of how I can be a better Christian, a better person, a better reflection of Christ. I'm not giving up growth - in fact, I'm embracing it, in a significantly more freeing way. I'm practicing sitting with Jesus, letting Him see my heart and allowing Him to do the hard heart work. That's how true transformation begins: inward. I seek His strength, grace, and wisdom as to how I live my life, not to be "better" but walk alongside Him a little bit more in my every day. I'm learning that the more you draw near to Jesus, the more your heart looks like Him, and the more your heart looks like His, the more the outside of your life looks more like Him too.

We don't have to get it right all the time, friends. We don't have to try to fit in the box of what we think a good Christian looks like. Our biggest responsibility as a Christ follower is to pursue Him, to seek Him with everything that we've got, to allow Him to work in our lives and to keep repenting. As we build that relationship, as we partner with Him instead of striving to meet a standard we can never accomplish, the life change begins to take place. We aren't stuck under the law, but we're living in freedom, and we're learning to walk in obedience.

It doesn't feel so stressful, so discouraging and unattainable. Instead, there's joy, because the ways I am changing are for the better and they're not by my own strength. It's evidence of healing and growth and surrender and the Father's goodness in my life, and I am so, so, so grateful. The to-do lists are gone, but I'm practicing dwelling with Jesus, and in that communion I find a lifestyle that brings abundant peace. I'm not striving but I'm learning to love and that is so much better.

One night as I was praying and praising God, I wrote in my notebook this:

There's not an overwhelming joy in my heart but instead a warm, soft contentment. I feel like there's so much room to grow but at the same time I feel like I'm right where I need to be. I'm so grateful for Your grace and covering over my life. The anxiety does not reign and the lies are not the truth. You are good, and You hold me close. I'm not too far gone, I'm a work in progress, and there is beauty in the process.

In this place, there was so much peace, and every time I keep bringing it to the Lord, I am only met with more peace and more grace. He invites you to experience this as well, and I'm praying that we would continue to meet with our Father and allow Him to press His fingerprints into our hearts and our lives, because when that happens, everything changes, and it changes for the better.


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