Friday, July 17, 2015

When Life is Overwhelming

Sometimes the awful things in life threaten to overwhelm me. It felt like that this morning when I woke up. I made the mistake of looking at Facebook. It made me feel hopeless. So much awful. So many angry people. So many hate-filled people. So many blaming people. Good morning to me.

This has been a roller coaster week of terrible news and celebratory news and more terrible news and more celebratory news. It’s hard to keep up.

Here is what my week has looked like.

Two friends died this week of cancer. I don’t know what to say about this except even when it is not unexpected, death is shocking and painful and hard to process. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the sadness of this world.

In between delivering one of my favorite friends – eight year old James – to basketball camp every day, I made phone calls and delivered letters and attempted to speak with apartment managers, all trying to jump through obstacles to help another friend get into low-income housing. I did not think it would happen. I knew it would not happen because of anything I did. The obstacles were too great. So I did what I do. I called on my best girlfriends - women who know how to pray big.  Actually, I texted them and their texted replies made me cry. I love my friends. And then I went to meet with the apartment manager. When I arrived, she would not see me. I delivered my letter and left discouraged. I texted my girlfriends and said, “If this happens, it will be all God.”

Then I did a new thing. I waited. I didn’t try to fix it on my own. I didn’t look for alternative housing. I waited and it was not easy, because this planner wanted a plan. And after two days of waiting, it happened. My friend got her low-income housing. Her housing situation is secure. For someone making $8 an hour and supporting a family, this is huge. It changes the trajectory of their lives. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the goodness of God.

Yesterday, I drove my friend to an appointment with the low-income housing manager. On our way home, we laughed the entire way. We laughed and I told her that when I got the good news, I knelt down and cried I was so happy and overwhelmed. Then she cried and we laughed some more.

Mixed into this week I also attended traffic court with a young friend and sat in the ER with another young friend, because a 23 year old should not sit alone and scared by her mother’s bedside.

Yesterday morning I had the most delightful conversation with my son who is hilarious and hard working and Jesus loving and who also loves to push his mom’s buttons because he is a stinker and because it makes me laugh. Thirty minutes of silly conversation was a gift. I am overwhelmed by the goodness of my children. Yesterday evening two friends came for dinner to entertain us with their awesomeness. It was a gift. I am overwhelmed by the friends God has put in my life.

Life is hard and messy and the deeper into community I live, the deeper into pain and suffering I also live. But the thing is, Jesus did not ask me to stay in my beautiful home, enjoying the beautiful view out my window, enjoying my wonderful husband and son and daughter and my loving friends. Jesus asked me to love my neighbor. To help them.  To know their names. To change their lives. Be a difference. Because I can. Because to sit in my house, in my comfort while doing nothing means I am not following Jesus. There is no way around that. If I say I follow Jesus but do nothing to help others, I am not following Jesus.

But, “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no more hurt, but only more love.” Mother Teresa

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus

This week I saw a miracle happen. I am overwhelmed.


  1. shawna, i loved reading about your life and how you are "loving your neighbor" and showing mercy in so many ways! it is so cool to see how it is part of your life, not some legalistic thing you do. i'm touched to read it.

    1. Thank you Martha, my husband and I are loving this life God has brought us.

  2. I am always in awe and inspired when I read about all that you do, Shawna. Thank you for sharing. I didn't realize that one of your friends was a mutual classmate when I saw the beginning of your post on Facebook earlier this week (I haven't had must technology all week due to our camping trip) :(. I haven't seen Evie for thirty years or so, and I was glad to find her on Facebook a few years back.

    1. Thank you Anita! You are always a great encourager and that is a gift.