How to Combat Overwhelmed

You’re reading Week 4 in a series called Hearts Undaunted. We are exploring how to live free from overwhelming fear, anxiety, discouragement, insecurity, and worthlessness.

Generally, a good rule for writing is to be as concise as possible. No need to explain why a specific approach is taken. Just take it.

Sometimes, a little background or peek behind the scenes is meaningful.

Hence this post…

Yesterday, I wrote at (in)courage about lies and truth. By “yesterday, I wrote,” I mean that I wrote the post in the late spring, submitted it, waited for a response, and got my post scheduled to “go live” on September 18th (yesterday).

When I began our Hearts Undaunted series, I had the date for my (in)courage post and decided that my heart tool of replacing lies with truth would pair nicely with the (in)courage post.

I had no idea then that this week leading up to me writing about lies and truth would be fraught with a battle of real life lies and truth. But, here it is: 

The world stopped turning for a moment on Monday, September 10th. 

Before all the news reports flooded mid and southeast Michigan came my 7:00 am wake up call: Pat is dead. Shot. Killed in the line of duty. Pat? Amy’s Pat? Our Amy? O’Rourke? Patrick O’Rourke is dead?

Immediately, the lies started:

This is too big for you to touch.
There’s no way you can help.
You don’t know what to do.
What could you possibly do to help?

And the ones I really internalized:

I will not know what to do.
I will not know what to say.
I will say and do the wrong thing.
I will let her down.
I won’t do enough.
I’ll do too much.
What if I offend people?
What if the family doesn’t want me there?

A really insidious one: This is Amy’s grief, and nothing I might be feeling comes close to her pain, so I have no right to be grieving anything.

With variations: How dare I worry about being close to her, or getting into the church, or tripping on the stairs when I go up to read…(insert any anxiety here) when Amy’s grief is so big?

I second-guessed my every thought and action, worrying whether it would come out sounding exactly right.

The truth is: there is no guide book for this situation. No one knows the “right” thing to do, what should be said or done.

The truth is: though this is Amy’s nightmare, grief also trickles down to many others. I can support her better by dealing with my feelings in a healthy way.

The truth is: It is normal to take some time to get my bearings, think things through, and discern how to proceed.

The truth is: everyone needs grace in this situation, and no one expects perfection. I must apply this to myself, too.

In the swirling chaos and crazy of the week, the Lord mercifully planted this desire in my heart: that I stay focused on Truth and reject any pull into the ugly side of grief–anyone’s grief. That I let go of anything that doesn’t really matter and just be present. Be available. Be stable. Be unoffended by anything.

In the crazy and chaos of the week, in her grief, sweet Amy spoke out several times. From deep within her spirit came a resounding voice of Truth to quell all lies, and it left me speechless. Not with grief, but with awe. With conviction. With that intangible feeling that I had a fleeting, yet definite moment of God’s presence.

Please take a few minutes and listen to what she said at Pat’s funeral Mass:

Amy’s words unlocked a new understanding of Christ and faith that I didn’t even know I needed. She gave words to feelings I wanted to share about my faith and my church but never had the courage or words for.

Here’s the big lie I’ve been carrying around: If I write too much about my identity as a Catholic, I will lose non-Catholic readers. If I don’t write about my identity as a Catholic, I will lose my Catholic readers. Either way, I alienate someone. And it makes me an all-around weak and bad Catholic for not deciding and proudly proclaiming.

Here’s the big truth: I want people to experience Christ through me. I want them to look at me and see Him–and then say, “I want what she has!”

When I watch the video of Amy, my heart cries, “I want what she has!”

My proclamation won’t look like Amy’s because I’m not her. God will lead me to serve Him using the gifts and talents He’s grown in me.
And what about you?

Friends, the enemy knows where you are weak, and he whispers lies to discourage you!

Discouragement is never from God! (That life-changing truth came to me from my amazing mom.)
It is imperative that you identify lies and replace them with truth.

Absent taking captive these thoughts, Satan will fill your mind. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

These erroneous thoughts drive feelings. When I’m anxious, worried, afraid of rejection? It’s because I’m telling myself that I can’t do something…I’m not good enough…People won’t accept me….

The good news is that you can change your feelings by changing your thoughts. (These life-changing truth came to by first from my amazing Christian counselor, Andrea, and then through Renee Swope in her book, A Confident Heart.)

Heart Verse:
“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
–Philippians 4:8

Think on these things.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. If you are discouraged and anxious, if you feel afraid, insecure, or worthless, this is something you can do right now to change things.

Here are a few to start you off:
“I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”
 –Philippians 4:13

“I am fearfully, wonderfully made.”
–Psalm 139:14

“For I know well the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. When you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the Lord.” 
– Jeremiah 29:11-14

Heart Questions
1. What negative emotions do you frequently experience?
2. Stop and examine what thoughts run through your mind when you feel negative emotions. What are you telling yourself?
3. What truth can you choose to believe instead?

Heart Challenge
Write out truth verses on index cards, Post-its, or paper and post them where you will see them frequently. Repeat them to yourself often and memorize them so they are ready weapons against lies. You can do it!

* * *

The comments are open, friends! What are you struggling with? Do you have go-to verse for combat? How can I pray for you today?

* * *



  1. I am part of the Better Writers FB group but am a lurker. I clicked to read your post today and I am SO glad I did…this is beautiful. Amy’s words are lovely. I hope we get to meet at Allume…thank you for sharing these thoughts.


    • Hi Mary! I remember you:) Thank you for reading and leaving some thoughts here. Please feel free to pop in any time. I look forward to meeting you at Allume! Blessings to you.

  2. God certainly made the light of Christ SHINE though Amy! You couldn’t leave that church (or tent!) without saying I want what they have! Wait! I can have that! That Gift is there for me too! How awesome is that!

    • Yes, she WAS shining. I was so moved. (tent, lol:) So, so SO awesome that the Gift is there for all. We are so blessed. I have no sufficient words for the new understanding I have for the Eucharist because of this. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Allison. I love having you here!

  3. Thanks for putting into words what a lot of us were feeling last week.

    • Hi Sarah! I loved seeing your name here:) Thanks SO much for what you wrote. Despite my words here, and my good intentions to reach out in truth and for healing, it is hard to know when words will heal and when they will hurt. I’m so blessed to know you.

  4. I love you and I love this post. Who you are as a person speaks so loudly for Christ and His love. It’s amazing to me how Amy has been able to reach so many people in this tragedy right in the midst of her pain and I am so happy she has even reached into your heart. Thank you for allowing us to read your insecurities and exposing your vulnerabilities to us. You have helped further God’s Kingdom so much already in that!

    • Wow, Heather. Thank you:) Your feedback is much appreciated because it is hard to know when words will hurt and when they will heal. I was thinking it’s important for people to know what real people go through and that no one “has it all together.” If I’m feeling something, chances are someone else is too. It was my hope to reach out and to share some of what I’ve learned. Love you!

  5. Mandy, This is wonderfully written.Thank you for your openess. Replacing the lies with His truth- that’s healing! Thanks for linking up, Blessings on your day!

  6. :0)….Thank you for sharing. He is all sufficient, isn’t He? Living HIM on a daily basis…tough, but He gives grace. So sad about your friend.This song came to mind as I was reading. It is about how we need to come to Him in our wounded state…”For He’s wounded too”…praying for you and your friend. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • That’s a beautiful song, Donna. Thank you. You said it so well: He is all sufficient. Tough, yes. Grace, yes! Thank you for your prayers. Blessings, friend.

  7. Good stuff here, Mandy! I call thinking on these things “talking myself off the ledge” and I have to do it a LOT. Great verses of TRUTH and it’s important that we fill our minds with that so we can silence the lies.

    • “Talking myself off the ledge”, I like that. It’s hard work, but the more I’m willing to do it, the more peace and focus I have. Thanks, Susan. It’s always great to have you here:) Blessings, friend.

  8. Mandy! So proud of you for letting yourself be vulnerable about where you are at in this process of blogging and sharing your faith!! I recently bought into a lie that I could not teach fourth grade rel. Ed. I was in a tailspin about it! Even though I homeschool my own children and have taught before I believed the lies of not measuring up to expectations…then I recalled your posts in the past about being brave, not listening to the lies and God is always with me! The first class was amazing, I will probably learn more from them than they will from me but I am blessed to have taken the risk!! This Catholic reader totally supports you no matter what:)

    • Jenn, thank you. So proud of YOU for confronting the lie in your life, combating it, and being brave:) That’s awesome! Your support is amazing. Thank you, Catholic reader:):):)

  9. I find much recognition on your blog today that I’ve become speechless.

    Honey, I’m Protestant, and I chose to read your blogs while I knew that you are a Catholic. I see your sparkle in it. A sparkle as a reflection of Jesus, who loves us both.

    • Ah, your words are so sweet to me. Thank you:) You speak such truth: Jesus loves us both. It is Him that we share. I am humbled and grateful that I could pass on some words that speak to you. I pray I can continue to hear His voice because I write what I feel Him laying on my heart. Blessings to you!

  10. God is God and His truth is His truth…no matter the denomination, no matter the time, age, race, etc. We are all one in Him. The truth? Write as He would have you write…no more no less.

    BTW…I go to a charismatic church and we have our own issues! Ha! To each his own…in God! :)

  11. Being strong in the truly heartbreaking moments is hard. In my experience, the greater the pain, the stronger God’s presence is. I will be coming back to explore the series you have been doing. Sounds really interesting and the post I wrote earlier today is on the same lines of focusing on the truth of the moment and healing the lies of the past.

    • Thank you, Michelle. I love what you said about God’s presence. A very comforting thought. I would love for you explore Hearts Undaunted:) Please make yourself at home here. I look forward to checking out your post, too. Blessings!

  12. Great bits of encouragement Mandy…especially the bits at the end about how we CAN change our thinking…it’s easy to believe that is not true sometimes.

    And thanks for linking up this week ( I think you’re my one and only (:

  13. Another excellent post Mandy! I battle those little sneaky lies that “You can’t really be friends with her…you don’t measure up. You aren’t cool enough. You will say something stupid”. I attacked those this weekend and stepped out against them–meeting many people that intimidate me and being welcomed with open arms. Thanks for linking up!

  14. Mandy~

    Your post was amazing! I have it book marked to refer to later so I can re-read it and glean from it’s truth and copy down the verses.

    My favorite line that you wrote was, “Here’s the big truth: I want people to experience Christ through me. I want them to look at me and see Him–and then say, “I want what she has!” This is my hearts desire as well.

    Thank you so much for your encouragement. You really touched my heart. Thank you also for linking up at Legacy Leaver Thursdays.


  15. What’s it take to become a sublime exdponuer of prose like yourself?

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge