Overwhelmed? Consider This...
before your head explodes AND you end up feeling bad about it
Did you know, according to the latest study from the American Psychological Association, 76% of adults reported they had experienced at least one physical symptom in the last month as a result of stress?
That’s crazy! But also crazy understandable when you consider the world in which we live. Inflation. Violence. Politics. Packed Schedules. Thousands of Choices.
Not to mention, thousands of voices…
I think it happens to a lot of us. We think we know what something will be like, so we share what we think we know. We think we know exactly what kind of parent we will be, until we are one. We think we know we will love home ownership, until we don’t. We grow up thinking we will love the freedom of being an adult, until we realize just how much responsibility comes with it.
Even things we DO know about because we’ve gone through them - it often turns out - we don’t really know all that much about.
Take child-rearing, for instance. Only those who have multiple children might be able to relate to this one. But most moms or dads of multiples will tell you that some of the things that worked with their first child, didn’t at all work the same way with their second. I’ve even found that some of the things that worked great with my first and second (things that I thought were now tried and true) didn’t always work with my third… or fourth.
As it turns out, every kid is different. Like wildly unique. Even if they’re related. Even if they grow up in the same household. Even if they are twins. And, beyond that - the seasons and scenarios you go through with each of your children will be different.
I dole out less and less advice the older I get because, well, I just realize how nuanced so many things are. How layered they are. We can’t and don’t have all the answers for each other’s problems.
We can, however, point each other to the One who does - but that’s the best we’ve got.
And yet… Have you been on the internet lately? It’s like everyone (that’s a generalization - I know it’s not really everyone) is so certain of themselves that they throw around advice like it’s free candy. They just assume everyone wants it and that they have more than enough to go around.
The problem with free candy (and free advice) is that it’s not always good for you.
With robust search engines, unlimited internet access and messaging platforms galore - it seems that you could find the answer to almost any question.
Well, at least… you could find someone’s answer.
Look up anything to do with the aforementioned topic of parenthood and you’ll find 100 different viewpoints, charged suggestions, and incredibly confident opinions.
“If you let your baby cry it out, they’ll have attachment issues.”
THE FLIP SIDE: “If you never let your baby cry, they’ll never learn how to handle their emotions.”
“Never feed your baby cow’s milk. Baby cows are supposed to grow up to weigh a literal TON. You don’t want your baby to have to fight obesity all their life - Do you?”
THE FLIP SIDE: “Feed your baby whole, raw cow’s milk because it’s full of so many nutrients they need. I don’t even give my kids water - because cow’s milk is so nutritionally superior & I actually care about my children’s nutrition - Don’t you?!”
Okay, so I maybe extrapolated a bit there. But I’m not too far off. It’s incredibly overwhelming out there. Not just with parenting information. It’s everywhere. And it’s enough to make your head spin.
Point is… I’m calling it. It’s official! There is too much information. There are too many choices. Too many opinions. Have you ever heard of decision fatigue? If not, check it out. It’s real. And I think it’s contributing to our stress.
And we haven’t even talked about the news…
From the post from our old neighbor who lost their great aunt from a rare skin eating amoeba, to the GoFundMe for a teacher whose daughter is in the hospital four states away, to the nightly news showing the latest string of violent crimes and endless images of war… the darkness can feel suffocating.
So many problems are presented to us that we can’t possibly fix. Instead of asking our neighbor about their day, listening intently for ways to ease their burdens or help, we are so overwhelmed by what we just read online and emotionally frozen by the trauma the world endures - that many of us stop looking up. We stop asking how our neighbors are doing. Because - how can we even handle just ONE? MORE? THING?!
And, listen… I’m not anti-current events. Or anti-social media. (Yet.) But, I wonder…
Were we really meant for all this KNOWING?
I don’t think so.
I must first heard the story of Adam and Eve when I was too young to remember, because I can’t think back to a time in my life where I didn’t know it. (If you’re unfamiliar, check out Genesis 2 and 3.) But something used to bug me about it. Basically, God told the first humans ever created they could eat anything in this plentiful lush garden He had created for them. BUT, there was one tree they were supposed to avoid. They were not to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I always wondered “Why wouldn’t God want us to know everything He knows? Why wouldn’t He want us to have all the knowledge of good and evil?”
Now, I get it. In the smallest possible sense.
We are not infinite.
We weren’t created to know it all. I can’t possibly fathom some of the evil I’ve seen and heard of in my little corner of the world. How much worse would it be if I knew it all? No thanks.
On another note… I’ve heard it said that we, as humans, can only really maintain about 150 connections at once. According to some studies, only about 50 of those people could really be friends. And maybe 10 you could actually consider close friends.
We have hundreds or thousands of FB “friends.” We follow hundreds of instagram accounts. We try to thread more threaders (hahaha. Can you tell I haven’t joined this app yet? No clue what it’s about and not convinced enough at this point to join.) We use these accounts to do other things, sure. But they also try to keep us in touch with elementary school friends we haven’t spoken to in person since roughly 2003 (or in some cases the 1900’s HA).
Kind of crazy though if you think about it…
We have access to more information and more people now than ever before. It’s more convenient to “learn” and to “reach out” to others. But has this convenient access to “knowledge” actually made us any smarter? Are we actually getting closer to people because of these connections?
Sometimes I’m not so sure.
We can use an app to identify the type of beetle we found in our garden, we can post an update on FB and ask people what brand of vacuum they prefer, we can figure out how long it would take us to drive to the nearest fossil dig site (recently did this - super fun). But, we can’t often learn about the things that matter most, in the ways that matter most, online.
Some learning only happens in real life. And, spoiler alert, it turns out real connections only happen in real life too. It’s not as easy as tapping things out across a keyboard. BUT, it’s much more rewarding.
Here are some examples of things you won’t ever really know about until you live them out:
How would I grieve a foundational relationship loss?
How can I raise my daughter to love herself just as she is in a world that insists everyone looks better with a filter?
How can I find joy in today when I know that death and destruction could lie just around the corner?
How can I seek to understand someone that lives a completely different life than I do?
What does following Jesus feel like when what He has asked you to do means sacrificing everything you’d thought you’d be?
“We know so much.” I wouldn’t be so sure...
Another thing to consider when it comes to this... and then I’ll get to what we can do about it…
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