Have you ever been in a wave pool?
You know, one of those giant pools at a water park that is calm and boring:
And then this buzzer goes off and the waves begin!
At first they’re fun. You float up and down in your tipsy, little inner tube and you think “Man, this is awesome.”
Then the waves get increasingly bigger. All of a sudden you’ve lost your inner tube and you’re mysteriously across the pool from your friends. Now someone has kicked you in the face. Someone else runs over you with their tubes and you’re trapped under water. You finally come up for air and the waves seem like they’re mountains. You feel like you’ve inhaled half the pool and you’re not sure how much longer you can take this. So you find someone, a complete stranger maybe, and you grab on to them out of sheer survival instinct. Only they don’t have an inner tube either. The waves are too strong for them, too, and suddenly you’re both under water again.
The cute little wave pool turned into the Atlantic during hurricane season.
Stupid wave pool.
Do you ever get overwhelmed?
I sure do. And you know what happens?
I get cranky like it’s my job.
I get snarky and sarcastic and bitter and irritable. Don’t mess with Overwhelmed-Rachel. In fact, you better leave Overwhelmed-Rachel alone in a room and then go find the key to that room and lock it. Then you might try finding some gluten-free-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-ooey-gooey cookies to shove under the door.
I know Shadow, my adorable dog, also gets overwhelmed. As a puppy, when too many things were going on and he didn’t know what to do, Shadow had a standard reaction. You know what he did? As a puppy, when he would get overwhelmed, Shadow peed. It wasn’t like he did it intentionally. We called it “leaking.”
Thankfully most of us humans don’t have that standard response. The point is, though, that we all tend to do something when we get overwhelmed. We yell, we cry, we take it out on our loved ones, we eat junk food, we retreat into silence, we get cranky.
It’s kind of like that wave pool. At first, this happens to you. You take it in stride. Then this happens, and then that. And then the waves are so big you’ve lost your inner tube. The stress is so bad, you get cranky.
Our crankiness, our silence, our binge eating is our way of coping with these giant waves. It’s our way of grabbing on to that other person and holding on for as long as we can.
But you know what happens? Without an inner tube, that person isn’t strong enough to hold themselves up, let alone you, too. That solution isn’t reliable. It doesn’t address the problem. It’s a temporary aid. That person doesn’t get you away from the waves. Getting cranky doesn’t relieve my stress.
Things I’ve learned from wave pools:
1. Start in the shallow end.
2. Hold on to your friends tightly from the very beginning.
3. Get real sturdy and firmly placed in your intertube.
Remember to start off small. Don’t jump into life’s challenges all at once. Things build up gradually.
Keep your support system nearby and don’t take them for granted. Link you’re inner tubes together. At the first sign of a big wave, don’t let go. Don’t let them lose their tube. Hold on to them through the thick and thin.
Most importantly, have a firm foundation to rely on. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and mind. He will never leave you.
Psalm 5:11 says: “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.”
Pslam 46:1 says: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
The Bible is full of reminders to trust in our Maker.
When we feel overwhelmed, when we feel cranky, when we feel like binge eating, when we feel like crying or getting angry, it is so important to look to our God for comfort.
When Shadow would get overwhelmed and inevitably pee, we had to hold him (and obviously clean up the mess). We had to give him comfort.
Our God wants to do the same thing for us. He wants to hold us and wrap us in His loving arms. He wants to give us comfort. We have to look to Him when we are overwhelmed.
When we simply trust in our Lord to hold us and give us rest, He calms the seas. He lessens the power of the waves. He is our strongest, most durable inner tube, and when we look to Him in times of high stress, we will be safe and secure in Him.