J. Marshall Jenkins

Author, Therapist, Spiritual Director

Blessed Overwhelming

Overwhelming moments, like gazing at a dewdrop, can restore the soul.

Overwhelming experiences can fragment or restore you, depending on your heart.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).

This very moment, you have a choice: Sleep or let life overwhelm you.

Usually, we sleep, even through jobs, chores, and necessary routines.  Through power, discipline, or dumb luck, some gain more control over their lives than others, but at a cost.  They sleep through unbothered, missing out on their own stories.

If that paragraph bothered you, if you saw too much of yourself or your beloved in it, do not worry.  Life eventually overwhelms everyone.  That is good.  It means we awaken to really live it sooner or later.

Lest you think that “overwhelmed” always entails anguish, rest assured that the awake find the deepening of colors at dusk, the symphony of tree frogs and crickets, the caress of breeze on the brow, and the face of the beloved overwhelming.  Just gazing at nothing more than a dewdrop overwhelms if one stays with it for a while.  Such overwhelming brings deep peace.

But yes, the negative connotation applies too: Too many choices, too many chores, too many items on the bucket list, too many needs from children, clients, bosses, and your demanding conscience.  It’s easy to deepen your spiritual life while gazing at that dewdrop.  However, the overwhelming demands of life fragment us. Worse, the thought of gazing at that dewdrop only makes us feel guilty, not to mention proud that we don’t waste our time with such romantic frivolities.  We soldier through life, always responsible.

At end of such overwhelming, we thank God for one thing only: sleep.

But is it the demands that tear our spirits apart and leave us drained and dreading tomorrow?  Or is it the illusion that life insists we grab everything on our bucket list, race to win, and create our world on our terms?  Is it the easy forgetfulness that all things worth waking up to are gifts?

We are like children set loose in a candy store for a half hour to gather all they want on the house and leave what they don’t eat in the end.  Rather than the countless choices between taffies and truffles and licorice sticks, those children face one critical decision that makes all the difference: Will they gather as much as they can, fill their buckets to the max, and hurry to scarf down their favorites?  Or will they take a little time gathering and much more savoring a few delectable pieces?

The former option spells fragmentation and the latter, poverty of spirit, a life of gratitude and the beginning of inner peace.  If many tasks demand your attention, make time for one more: a long moment daily to savor one gift that reminds you of the Giver of all good things.  The peace will color your full life like a drop of ink in a glass of water.

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About J. Marshall Jenkins

J. Marshall Jenkins is an author, psychotherapist, teacher, and spiritual director. For several years he has been writing on the Beatitudes for people in emotional pain, publishing biweekly here on his Beatitudes Blog at https://www.jmarshalljenkins.com. His newest book, Blessed at the Broken Places: Reclaiming Faith and Hope with the Beatitudes, is now available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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