When My World Feels Overwhelming, I Look Around

A child’s world is small. I remember holding my tiny baby on our couch and my father-in-law said, “Think about how small his world is. To him, this house is the entire world. All he knows is wake up, be fed, and go to sleep again.” As they grow older, their world slowly grows larger—they meet other people outside their home, they see other houses and buildings, they learn about other provinces, countries, continents, and even other planets and galaxies. This growing of the world as we know it, despite our growing up with it, starts to make us feel a lot smaller. 

 When my son was born, my world became a lot smaller again, in some ways nearly the same size as his. Each day was spent inside the same walls, with the same routines, same food, and same handful of people. When my world became small like my son’s, suddenly every one of my little (and arguably medium sized as well) problems were bloated. A waffle getting stuck in the toaster was a disaster. The laundry basket full of clean clothes ready to be hung on the line falling on the dirty pavement was a tragedy. Naptime cut short, giving me less time to myself, was cataclysmic. Not being able to take my daily shower made want to cry. In the grand scheme of things, these things were only minor setbacks, but they felt like much more. 

Maybe this is only true for me, but I think when we spend too much time in our own heads, thinking about all that’s wrong and going wrong, our worlds magnify themselves beyond their true size. Small problems bloat beyond their true size. And while it’s valid to mourn and to acknowledge these difficulties, I’m seeing that sometimes what we really need is to take a step back and see how big everything else really is.

 Take a step on your doorsteps, breathe in the fresh air, and consider the power, majesty, and wisdom of God that creation proclaims. Consider his careful hand in crafting the singing sparrow and caring for it, and his powerful hand that made the crashing waves and towering mountains. See the stars God hung in the sky. Consider the galaxies and how God holds them in his palm. 

 Take a step into a fellow believer’s life and see how God is at work. See that you are not the only one in pain. See that you are a part of a body that is working together for Christ’s glory to proclaim the gospel. See how you are only one of the members of this body. As you go to church, take your eyes off the screen and look past your own individual seat and see the people around you. Listen to their chorus of voices singing together of God’s worthiness.

 Study God in his Word and what others have said about him. Be overwhelmed by his perfection, eternality, and grandness. Consider his gracious kindness and love to you. Contemplate his power and sovereignty over both the small details and major turning points of life and history. Consider the gospel, how Jesus Christ came to earth as a tiny baby, obeyed the law perfectly (while still experiencing the same temptations you do), and bore God’s wrath that you deserved. Stop and think about how you are hidden and united in Christ, how the Holy Spirit dwells inside of you, and how the Father has adopted you as his own. This alone should cause each of those little setbacks (and sometimes even the major ones) to shrink in size as you consider how it all sits in the safe palm of God’s hand.

 Lifting our gaze to such higher things helps to take our eyes off the overwhelm. The times I’ve been most overwhelmed I’ve found relief in discipling others, taking a walk outside, or opening up a good theology book. When I start to see the world, and more importantly God, in their grandiose, my world begins to shrink to a size I can handle and process. It makes me and my problems smaller. I prefer this kind of small of realizing how grand creation is and how much greater it’s Creator is. 

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