Overwhelmed, Underwhelmed or Simply Unmotivated
January is that time of year that many people get the Winter Blues - a general view of life that just says, "Blah!" Being underwhelmed with life threatens our sense of purpose and joy and makes everything seem a bit bland and boring. Perhaps it is fueled by the cold weather, feeling housebound or the fact that all the green things in life are resting dormant below ground or snow. Or, maybe it is just the reality of returning to the basic routines of life (even in a Covid world). All the frantic and fun activities that surround Christmas are behind us, and we just have the decorations and the bank balance to deal with.
For others, January is an excuse to cozy up by the fire, read a book or enjoy an indulgent mug of hot chocolate or hot vanilla. They enjoy their Christmas decorations as long as possible and their soul finds healing when the world is covered in a sparkling blanket of snow. They reflect on Christmas memories made and reread Christmas greetings. They're thrilled as cards and letters continue to arrive - due to the backlog in our postal system.
That’s where I wish I was – in the snuggled up state – all month long! But, that’s only in my dream world. In real life, I've been fluctuating between moments of snuggly goodness and the threat of that nasty cloud of "Blah." More often than not, however, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed and unmotivated.
Oh, there are many reasons to feel that way. My days are filled to the brim with demands and activities - like so many of your days! I have no doubt that we all have our challenges and ‘to do’ lists. Phone notifications pop up way too often reminding us of the never-ending demands on our lives. If you’re like me you enjoy staying busy, but there are times when you're left juggling one too many things.
Over the past month in our house, we’ve dealt with...
- Toilet chains that keep breaking! It happened so frequently we finally just left the tank lid on the floor instead of taking it off and on.
- A clothes dryer that offered up damp clothes.
- A leaky kitchen sink. Thankfully, only partially filling the basin underneath.
- On-going washing machine issues. Cleaned gunk, ordered dryer balls and eventually discovered the water filter was creating our softener issues.
- Then, last Friday, I broke off a key in my office door. Now, the maintenance man at church had to get involved. Ugh!
None of these issues were earth-shattering, but they've each been nuisances that have tried my patience. As stress levels increased, my patience decreased. That's when the little whispers of Satan were heard a bit too clearly in my mind. Living in a state of quickly drained mental energy soon became a bit too normal. (Can I blame it on Covid?)
Thankfully in the midst of all these 'little' challenges of life, I heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit remind me of Mary. We’re not even a month out from Christmas Day yet, and most of us are back to a normal routine of some sort. However, in Mary's world, she’d still be healing from delivery. She’d still be displaced from her home and living away from friends and family. She’d be learning first-hand how to be a mom. She’d be washing out diapers, taking care of her personal hygiene needs and trying to tend to the needs of her husband. She is one who would have had every reason to feel overwhelmed with her new routine - eat, diapers, sleep, repeat. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Mary found herself counting down the days to her purification ritual so things could go back to ‘normal.’
Isn’t it interesting that the Mosaic Law, which required a mother's purification post-childbirth, was set for 40 days after a baby boy's delivery (even longer for a baby girl). That's nearly the typical 6 weeks (42 days) that is still used as a mile marker in the life of an infant and a new mom. By that time, the umbilical stump should have healed on the baby, mom should be ready for travel and her bleeding should have stopped. (We won’t talk about a certain someone who was still spotting at her 6-week check-up and had to admit that she’d been climbing stairs to do laundry. Woops!)
What were Mary’s challenges? We tend to only think of the new little family on the night of Jesus’ birth, but where did they live when others traveled home post-census? How long did they live in Bethlehem before they had to escape into Egypt? (They escaped into Egypt! I wonder if the wandering Israelites from Moses’ day could have ever imagined that turn of events post-Exodus?)
The Bethlehem timeline includes the arrival of the wise men and is influenced by Herod’s edict to kill the baby boys two years and younger, but that's all the clues we have. Suffice it to say, Mary had to pack up everything needed to travel with either a baby on her hip or a teething toddler when they "escaped" into Egypt. This family of three now had a new place to call home and one that lasted until Herod’s death (Matthew 2:15). And, how long was that? Well, those ‘educated guestimates’ range from 3 BC to 6 AD - meaning that some things will just remain a mystery.
However, a school project highlighting Jesus' childhood timeline could have included these milestones...
- Traveled in mommy’s belly to Bethlehem.
- Was born, named (and circumcised) in Bethlehem.
- Went to Jerusalem so mom could be purified.
- Returned to Bethlehem for awhile.
- Went into hiding in Egypt.
- Returned to Bethlehem, but dad realized it wasn’t safe.
- Moved to Nazareth in Galilee. (Matthew 2:22b-23 NIV)
If you moved multiple times in your early adult life, I'm sure you can relate. I can just hear Mary saying, "Really, Joseph! We have to move again?" No doubt, Mary was a little sleep deprived and felt overwhelmed at times - just like us!
So, where have you been living lately? Are you full of energy, feeling revived in spirit and looking forward to what God has planned for 2021? Or, have you been feeling overwhelmed, underwhelmed or unmotivated post-Christmas and mid-Covid?
If you’re in a good place, praise Jesus for all His blessings in your life! If you’ve been struggling, ask Jesus to help you identify if there is something brewing in your spirit that needs attention or if you just need to rest in Him and allow your body and mind to rest as well.
As for me, I just finished up my Christmas baking and delivered the goodies to a few neighbors and friends last weekend. Which means I’m about on track with the US Postal System. We’re both running about three weeks late, and we could both blame it on Covid-related issues. Both of our ‘systems’ have been challenged by the demands of life as well as the manpower (my personal ‘woman power' and energy) to find the renewed momentum to keep me moving forward each and every day.
Perhaps Mary pondered the verses in Lamentations 3:22-23 as she faced all the different stages of motherhood and marriage, acclimated herself to new homes and towns and trusted God with the death threats on her family! “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Until we meet in heaven, we'll never know exactly what Mary faced as she waited on Day 40 so that she could journey to Jerusalem, fulfil the Law and go back to 'normal' life. But, we can be encouraged by her example of faithfulness and the promise of God's never-failing love and compassion in our lives!
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for loving us so much that “we are not consumed” by life. Thank you that you are always ready to love us and care for us. Thank you for not giving up on us even when we sometimes don’t reach our full potential. Your compassion and grace are often just the “snuggly blanket” we need to wrap around us and comfort us as we rest in you - and as we take time to heal and rest our human bodies.
Thank you for guiding us, our husbands and our children. Keep us all on the daily path You have designed for us. Help us to trust in Your faithfulness each day as we see the sun rise and each evening as we see the sun set. Thank you for the gift of Your Son and for the gift of eternal life that we can have because of His sacrifice. With you, O Lord, we will never be consumed no matter how challenging our days. You will be faithful to hold us and carry us as we trust in You. Thank You for promising to make a way for us each day and for being our strength and hope. We love You and thank You for your eternal love and care. Amen.