When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed and Inadequate

A few weekends ago, I had a dream.

I don’t often have dreams—not that I remember anyway. Sometimes I can recall fleeting images, and occasionally I wake up with my heart pounding after being chased or because I forgot to do something important.

This time, though, I actually remember the story line.

I was in a house. It may have been the house I grew up in—a turn-of-the-20th-century farmhouse on three acres. It was Sunday morning and I had to be at church by 9. There was a storm under way.

All of a sudden, the storm escalated. Flood waters rose and the house—which is nowhere near a lake or river—was surrounded by water that climbed almost as high as the first-floor kitchen window.

I remember thinking, I have to get to church, and then, as the flood waters rose, I can’t go, it’s too dangerous.

I remember wondering, Will the house stand—is it solid enough to withstand the power of the water?

I continued sleeping, but that’s where my recollection ends.

When morning came and I actually was getting ready for church, a song came on the radio that mentioned floods. Just hearing the words brought my dream back in a rush, along with thoughts of a very real, very current situation that was causing me to feel weighed down, anxious and ill-equipped for the road ahead.

As I listened, though, I remembered something else. My mind wandered back to another time in my life when I felt much the same way—inadequate, unprepared and unsure of myself. During this particular season of parenting, my feelings mostly stemmed from what was going on inside me rather than what was happening with the energetic child involved.

There were times when I felt like I was drowning in a desert—simultaneously flooded and completely dried out. It was overwhelming, to say the least.

But here’s the thing about all that. I now look back at that season and see how God sustained me and brought me through it. I see what I learned from my girl as she operated in the delightful way God made her, and how my life is better so much better for it.

It was all for a purpose—I can see that now. Not through a glass darkly, as the scriptures say, but clearly.

She needed me; I needed her. God knew that when He put our family together. He gave me what I needed—what I still need—to be her mom.

This calmed my heart as I pondered my current circumstances.

Later that morning, when our church’s worship team led the congregation in singing “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail),” I just stood there, silently absorbing the lyrics. Phrases about finding God in unknown ocean depths, being guided by His sovereign hand and trusting in His unfailing faithfulness—words I’ve heard and sung countless times—brought peace like never before.

They reminded me of what I believe—the theology I cling to when circumstances overwhelm my mind and emotions constrict my heart.

Our sovereign God goes before us, every step of the way. He will never leave us or forsake us. He gently guides us, equips us and builds our faith for whatever lurks on the road in front of us.

He gives us what we need—wisdom, patience, comfort, love—sometimes even before we think to ask.

We might be weak, but He is strength personified.

We may feel as if we are drowning—we may actually be sinking in the waves—but He is always there to pull us to safety.

We don’t need to fear what lies ahead—even if we have every reason to think it might be difficult and perhaps even heartbreaking—because He is with us.

These are not clichés, cobbled together with a haunting melody by some guitar-strumming, scruffy bearded guy on a worship video. They are foundational truths of the Christian faith—truths that stand firm when we are being battered about by wind and waves, floods and fires, disease and daily life.

They hold up.

Because of that, we are held up—and carried through to the other side.

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Purposeful Faith, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, #Unite, #ChasingCommunity, Missional Women and Grace & Truth.

44 Responses to When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed and Inadequate

  1. Thank you for sharing at the Grace and Truth link up!

  2. Elaine @MilitaryWifeAfterGod says:

    Thank you so much for this. Your post has brought a sense of peace for me for a situation in our family with an unknown future. This post will be shared on my blog Facebook page to help bring that same peace for those who need it. Visiting from Faith Filled Friday!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m so glad you stopped by last week, Elaine. It has been my prayer that these words would speak to whoever needed to read them, and I’m glad that happened for you! I pray that God would hold you close as you move forward in the uncertain area your family is facing. Many blessings to you today!

  3. Lorin says:

    Thank you, Lois, for sharing this! Through your transparency, I was able to be encouraged. You are pointing people back to Jesus.

  4. Oh, sweet Lois I really need to read this type of message before I start my days. God is teaching me trust and when I read encouragement like this it really helps. Thanks so much!

  5. Thanking the Lord these aren’t cliches, but are the very foundations we rest back and stand firm on. It just amazes me how He can use something we have such little understanding of- like a dream- to help us recollect, consider, and be strengthened in our faith!

  6. Linda Stoll says:

    Ah, this, this, Lois –>’There were times when I felt like I was drowning in a desert—simultaneously flooded and completely dried out.’

    I’m sure it’s never been said better. Oh yeah, you nailed this perfectly.

  7. Brenda says:

    Isn’t He the best? Taking a frightening dream and turning it into a message to you, and one you’re able to share with us. Beautiful, Lois. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for linking up with #ChasingCommunity today! ((hug))

  8. He gives us what we need even before we think to ask. Yes, He does! I don’t think I ever really know what I need, so I am beyond grateful for an all knowing God!

  9. Ruth says:

    Lois, thank you for sharing your dream here.
    I notice that from what you have shared, the storm remained outside; you were protected from it. You voiced a question as to whether it would hold, but it did.
    I think the house is a symbol for God, your dwelling place (Psalm 91:1) You are in dwelling in Him through Christ, and yes, He holds and remains strong no matter what the storms outside may do. You are safe in Him, your Refuge, your Strong Tower. I shared a dream I had at: https://plantedbylivingwater.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/where-to-run-when-everything-is-falling-apart/
    I think you’ll like it.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Those are good thoughts, Ruth … thank you for sharing them. The picture of God being our dwelling place, Refuge and Strong Tower is so comforting, isn’t it? Blessings to you today!

  10. His truth holds up – yes! In our moments of overwhelm, we so often forget to look back and remember how God has gotten us through before, how He has always been faithful. He brought you through your storm and got you safely to the other side, and He’ll do it again. Love your encouragement, as always. xo

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Tiffany, looking back and remembering God’s faithfulness is such a wonderful spiritual discipline, isn’t it? His fingerprints are everywhere if we would only take the time to look. Love your encouraging thoughts, my friend!

  11. Being held is such a strong image of God’s protection and care of us — and I struggle with it because it feels very passive to me, but then . . . isn’t it far better to be still and let God be the one who acts on my behalf.
    Thank you for finding words to put around this challenging season in your life. I’m not familiar with the song you shared, so I’ll be looking for it (and thinking of you as I listen!).

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Michele, it’s interesting that you mention how I found words to put around this challenging season, because that is something I’ve really struggled to do! Maybe that’s what this dream was for–to help me express what I couldn’t seem to say before. I’m so thankful that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (and maybe even invades our dreams at times) when we just can’t find the words to express all the emotions we’re feeling. Blessings to you this week!

  12. Aritha says:

    Thank you so much. This was what I need to read this early morning: We might be weak, but He is strength personified.

  13. Lydia says:

    Thank you for sharing this powerful imagery from your dream, Lois, and your insight from it, which reminds me of this: “… and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23

    And this: “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well, with my soul.”


  14. Lois,
    I’ve already read this several times I loved it so much! I don’t often remember my dreams either so when I do, I wonder if I should pay attention to them. I love how the words of the song spoke to your heart and how affirmed you felt that God was with you even when life feels overwhelming and flooded with cares and concerns. Your words bring hope, encouragement and inspiration, just when I needed them most today! xoxo

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m glad these words are encouraging you this week, Valerie … I’m in the same place (but I guess that’s kind of obvious). 🙂 I actually heard a third song that referenced floods a day or two later … that’s what really prompted me to put all this down in writing. I’m going to post that one as my “Song of the Month” in February … it’s a good one! Hugs to you!

  15. Drowning in a desert…that’s a very interesting word picture, and I can relate to it. In past seasons I felt I was giving all I could give and it wasn’t enough. I believe somewhere inside my hope in God never died, and I’m glad he has led me out of that drowning desert now. Praying that your faith will be strengthened in your trials, Lois.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m so glad that season is over for you, Sarah. That’s something that gives me a lot of hope … most often, these desert-drowning times are not permanent! Thank you for your prayers and thoughts this week!

  16. “They hold up.”
    I lift my hands and smile an amen. I find myself needing simple power-packed, tested and tried-truths like this in the season I’m currently in. xxoo

  17. Awww, Lois. I’m sorry you’re walking through such a season as this. I know God is using it in your life, strengthening you in ways you may not have known you needed strengthening. I’m praying for you.

    Your words are such a great reminder for me as I am walking through a season of “not my timing, but Yours, Lord.” Waiting on Him, trusting Him to help us is the best thing we can do.

    And those lines in “Oceans,” that talk about taking us where our trust is without borders and our feet aren’t touching the ground…excite and scare me. But there is firm hope in our Lord to walk with us through it all, isn’t there?

    Saying a prayer for you, friend!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you for your prayers and encouragement, Jeanne. Seasons like this definitely compel me to be more intentional (isn’t that your One Word for this year?) about looking for subtle answers to prayer and movements of God that I might have overlooked during less stressful times. Keeping track of those things bolsters my faith for whatever lies ahead, that’s for sure. Praying for you today … that God would strengthen you and reveal Himself to you as you wait for His timing.

  18. Lesley says:

    Oceans is one of my favourite songs and during a time a couple of years ago when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed it was one I listened to a lot. The truths in it are amazing and really do give us something solid to hold onto by lifting our eyes above our circumstances to see Jesus.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I feel the same way, Lesley. Do you find that songs like this take you back to those seasons and remind you of how God was faithful through them? I know I have a whole list of such tunes! 🙂

  19. Trudy says:

    So beautiful, Lois. Thank you for encouraging my heart today. “Our sovereign God goes before us, every step of the way. He will never leave us or forsake us. He gently guides us, equips us and builds our faith for whatever lurks on the road in front of us.” Amen. Whatever lurks… Thank you for reminding me of that song, too. May we keep our eyes above the waves and may our trust be without borders! Love and hugs!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m so glad your heart was encouraged by reading this, Trudy. I know “lurks” is kind of ominous sounding, but even those nebulous enemies are no match for God’s power, are they? Have a good day, my friend!

  20. If I stop and think, Lois, I feel overwhelmed and inadecuate about half the time. So I try not to think about it. I just try my best to keep my eyes on Him. (This I only do about a fourth of the time, but somehow it gets me through.) : ) He is always with us.

  21. Beautiful words. I have definitely had to cling to my theology the last few years and it kept me from being overwhelmed. Glad to be your neighbor at Kelly’s today

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