Overwhelm: The Best Kind

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Colossians 2:6

Experiencing Overwhelm

A month ago, I was in Palm Springs starting a wonderful week away with my husband Kurt. On a short walk after dinner, I fell on my way back to the car. No uneven pavement. No bad step off the curb. I just missed my step.

I hit hard. I fully expected a broken nose, a smashed face, cuts and breaks. A woman carrying pizza boxes who had watched me go down, shared one of her take-out napkins and said I was going to need to dab my nose. Dab my nose? Really, just dab my nose?

I was very, very fortunate. As you know with falls, my experience could have gone so very, very bad. In these weeks following the incident, I’ve had a many overwhelms, emotional moments that found me with tears in my eyes and “Dear God” prayers: “Dear God, thank you!”

Before I could fully process my gratitude, I found myself overwhelmed again, this time connecting with an illustrator for a children’s book I’ve written about Grandma and her grandson Enzo. It has taken me a year to make it happen. Knowing the importance of pictures in a children’s book, I knew exactly what I wanted, but I wasn’t sure where to go, what to do, how to make it happen.

And then I found Ben Young, an illustrator extraordinaire. After giving him lots of notes and ideas, he created “Grandma and Enzo.” They did not match my specifications. They were beyond what I could have imagined. I took one look at his Grandma and his Enzo and promptly had an ugly cry. “Dear God, thank you!”

After my fall, I found myself walking with my head down, watching the path ahead of me, not wanting to repeat my misstep. After meeting Ben, I found myself with my head down and my shoulders slumped—both physically and spiritually as more and more pictures appeared, all beyond my imagination. I was in the middle of major overwhelm, the best kind.

Overwhelm: The Best Kind

Immediately I found myself wrestling with gratitude, but not sure what that even looked like. How does gratitude impact my thoughts, change my actions, impact and change my feelings?

I shared my questions with Michol, whose thoughtful response gave me pause. And hope. And great joy.

“Before gratitude,” she said, “I think we need humility. Before we can have the joy of gratitude, there’s a humbleness that has to come.”

And my not-so-thoughtful response? “Yeah, I have trouble with that one.”

Ladies, most days I think very well of myself. I don’t doubt my ability to solve for it, plan for it, make it happen. I like my days to unfold smoothly—without missteps. I want fairness, justice, equality. I want people to be nice and do what I say…

And then I have a day, actually two days, when the world tips and I’m given undeserved blessings, unearned miracles, un-understandable love. I’m blessed in ways never expected, not imagined. I’m given waaayyy more than I can get my head around, especially with a scraped cheek and bruised ego.

Humility: The Best Overwhelm

Humility is that overwhelm, the best overwhelm.

And humility starts with our recognition that we’re not God. We’re not oh-so-very fine. We don’t have it pulled oh-so-very finely together. Humility checks our pride at the door, removes our coat of accomplishments, sets aside our dirty shoes, and says, “Dear God, thank you!”

Humility has gotten a bad rap. It can signify weakness, perhaps timidity. It’s not. Humility is honoring the bigness in our life, God’s bigness.

Part of the great joy we have in our relationship with God is gratitude for His place in our life, for our place in beautiful creation. It’s the ALL CAPS version of thankfulness. But underscoring gratitude is that humility.

Leaving for home after our week away, I said to my husband, “What a nice week.” And it was—even though I’d fallen. We’d also not stayed at our favorite place, the weather hadn’t been that great, I’d worked several days, and my cheek had turned several shades of yellow and green. But we’d had time together—away. We’d reconnected with a high school classmate and her husband. We’d had quiet walks, long talks, and giggles over my antics. And I’d had daily overwhelm—the good kind.

When have you been overwhelmed—in the best way? How do you deal with the best kind of overwhelm?

Heavenly Father, just as we have received Christ Jesus as Your Son, our Lord, we pray that we might continue to live in Him, strengthened in the faith we were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness for the overwhelm in our life—the good kind. In Your name, we pray, amen.

Deanna Nowadnick is a writer and speaker who loves helping women of faith connect our delightfully ordinary stories to God’s extraordinary love and faithfulness. She is also the author of three books: Fruit of My Spirit, Signs in Life, and Bouquet of Wisdom.

Deanna Nowadnick author

Hi, I'm Deanna

I am a writer and speaker who loves helping women of faith connect our delightfully ordinary stories to God’s extraordinary love and faithfulness, so we can be encouraged and empowered knowing God’s been in the details–always has been, always will be.

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