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For When You Feel Overwhelmed and for When You Feel Small

First let me begin by saying, wow, you guys. The flu is a terrible, terrible thing.

I thought I caught the flu the day after New Years. I was sick a few days, then I was okay for a couple.

Then sick a few more days, and fine for the next four.

Last Sunday night, my body hurt so terribly and I felt just so awful, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I set up a doctor’s appointment. I was running a low fever and my flu test was negative. My doctor said I had pneumonia. My chest rattled when I breathed and I couldn’t stop coughing. Antibiotics, make-me-loopy cough syrup, good to go.

I woke up Tuesday afternoon and could not stop shaking. Not shivering. Shaking. I took my temperature. 101. 30 minutes later, I felt even worse. I took my temperature again. 103.3. I was on Advil and my temperature was still 103.3? A phone call later, I was on my way to the ER where I learned I didn’t have pneumonia, but I did have the flu.

This is really me at the ER. Super awesome mask!

I don’t remember much of last week, but I think I’m on the mend.

I’ve never had the flu before (and I will be getting flu shots from now on) so I had no idea something could make me stay still the way it did. I didn’t touch my computer all week. All I could do was think.

Thinking for a week is not necessarily a good thing for me. I tend to get wrapped up in layers of self-doubt, self-pity, and even some bitterness and jealousy. Even if I try to refocus my thoughts on what’s good, my tendency to reflect in everything I’ve done wrong or that I’m not doing as well as I’d like takes over.

I was tired enough because of the flu, and with my mental defenses destroyed, I found myself in a big puddle of giving up.

I wanted to give up.

No, I want to give up.

I still do.

One thing you don’t want to do while sweating through all of your clothing because of a fever is go online. If you do, and if you’re like me, you’ll end up feeling like everyone has their life put together. They hustle and you don’t want to even get up to get a Powerade, much less do any work. They post about the great people they wine and dine with, and you forget to find gratitude for the friends who rushed to the hospital to pray with you, who brought you meals and medicine.

You feel so overwhelmed and you feel so small all at the same time.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I tend to have so much to do…I try and prove myself or reinvent myself or tell myself that if I do this or that maybe-just-maybe I’ll feel like I’ve made a difference, that I’m worth something to someone, that I’m contributing whatever it is that God gave me to contribute to this world. I preach a message that tells people about the beauty of simply being, about rest and about health, yet if I think about my to-do list, I feel sick to my stomach. I feel small and overwhelmed and because I’m not as popular as this person or because some other person who has an important title doesn’t email me back, that somehow I’m a failure.

THAT IS JUST NOT TRUE.

Maybe you’re like me (I can empathize). You work so hard to write, to share, to be a mom or a dad or a wife or a husband or a good friend and your heart burns with such fury to do just one thing that makes a difference. All the while every message you take in from the outside world, from the voices you respect (and maybe the ones people tell you that you should respect) tells you it’s not enough. If it was enough, you’d have that viral blog post, that book deal, or just one single comment or message about that super-important thing you shared with the world. You feel small and overwhelmed.

This – by all industry standards – is not a good blog post to write. I have no answers for you. No three-steps to finding peace in chaos or security where you feel frail.

This is just me saying (to the both of us):

YOU are NOT alone in this.

The chaos you feel is a lie from Satan that wants to draw you away from your identity in Christ.

It is not your job to save the world.

It is not your job to even save one single person.

It is your job to delight and worship your creator.

To walk the path he set for you, even if it’s not glamorous, or exciting, or what you expected.

Rejoice in Him.

Cry out to Him.

Strangely, as we become more desperate for God, that sense of desperateness leads us to great peace.

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ajackson@churchleaders.com'
Anne Marie Miller (formerly Jackson) is a writer, speaker, and social change activist who lives in Orange County, California. She also holds the position of Storyteller at Visioneering Studios Architecture.