[guestpost]We’re now just three short weeks from the release of I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is. Things are ramping up here, and boy, do we have some amazing surprises for you! In the meantime, I’m thrilled to be able to introduce you to the author of today’s guest post, Kathi Lipp. Kathi is a well-loved speaker and author of more than 15 books (and somehow I’ve managed to snag her as a friend. BAM.). Today she’s talking about THE OVERWHELM. You know, those moments when life sweeps over you like a tidal wave and you’re pretty sure you’re not going to make it out alive. I couldn’t be more honored to lay out the welcome mat for this timely word. Enjoy, friends. ~MC[/guestpost]

Sitting across from my son at Starbucks, seeing him in so much pain, so completely overwhelmed, I was desperate to kiss him on the forehead, say some magic mommy words, and make all the hurt go away.

The Problem

The only problem with this plan? My little boy is 6’1” and in his mid-twenties.

But that instinct never goes away, does it? Wanting to fix it and make it all better for those we love, especially our kids. Whether they are six or twenty-six. I would rather be the one in pain than to see my child hurting.

But life kept coming at my son hard, and I could not fix it. Even worse, I knew I wasn’t supposed to.

Setting Boundaries is Hard

My husband and I have had the “boundaries” talk so many times. I love to be a “relief” for people, and so does Roger, when it’s appropriate. But we were concerned that our son was not being proactive enough in his own life and that we needed to step back. As much as that hurt both of us to watch.

We’d tried to do the right thing. Things like offering him jobs around the house when he needed money. But he didn’t want to do the kind of work we had available and wanted to borrow money instead. This was frustrating and sad for me, but my answer had to be no.

He wanted to live with us while he was looking for a job. Again, we said that he had one week to sleep on our couch during the transition, but he could not live with us. It broke my heart to put these boundaries in place, what if he didn’t love me because I told him no? What if he stepped away from us? From our family?

I walk through the parenting world with guilt; I feel guilty that my kids come from a family of divorce. I feel guilty that I wasn’t tougher as a parent and now sometimes see the struggle in my kids’ lives. I want to be the safe place for my kids to run to, but at a certain age and stage, being safe is doing more harm than good.

Saying No Can Be Overwhelming

Saying no now is one of the most overwhelming things I have to do.

I would love to say that my no’s were met with love and acceptance. They were not.

My no’s were treated as abandonment. As betrayal. As wounds. Basically, some of the worst emotions a mom can experience. So many times I wanted to say, “We’ve changed our minds! Here is the money, (or car, or bedroom, or…). It would be so much easier on everyone in the short run. But relationships are not a short run game.

Anchor Yourself with Truth

When I’m dealing with overwhelming emotion, one of the first steps I need to take is to anchor myself with the truth of what I’m doing. With dealing with my son, this is the verse I anchored myself in:

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. —Romans 5:3-5 ESV

My son, as hard as it was to admit it, needed to suffer in order to understand God’s love fully and completely. If I kept “saving” him, he would never truly produce the endurance, character and hope that he so desperately needed.


And yes, it was incredibly hard. And so many times I wanted to run to be his rescuer. But, eventually, we started to see some results.

Faced with not having a place to live, he started looking at roommate situations and received offers from not one, but two places to live.

He put the word out on Facebook and found a job through a friend.

And when I offered him some work around our house until his first paycheck came in, not only did he do a great job, at the end he said, “Thanks for the opportunity.”

Long-term Outcome vs. Short-term Emotions

The second step is to look at the long-term outcome, not our short-term emotions.

Dr. Henry Cloud says, “So, when we begin to set boundaries with people we love, a really hard thing happens: they hurt. They may feel a hole where you used to plug up their aloneness, their disorganization, or their financial irresponsibility. Whatever it is, they will feel a loss. If you love them, this will be difficult for you to watch. But, when you are dealing with someone who is hurting, remember that your boundaries are both necessary for you and helpful for them.”

If I look at my son’s pain, I am desperate to fix it. But it’s not short-term discomfort I need to be concerned about, it’s his long-term character.

Learn to Love Well

Not everyone is going to be thrilled with our boundaries. But when we become overwhelmed by our need to fix things for a friend or family member, it does us well to remember whether we are looking to their long-term growth or our short-term comfort.

We need to learn to love well by allowing the pain so we can witness the growth.




Kathi and Cheri would like to send a copy of Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos & Restore Your Sanity to one of our readers!

To qualify for the drawing, you need to do TWO things:

#1. LEAVE A COMMENT below.
#2. SHARE THIS POST on social media.

That’s it! Once you do both, your name will be entered into the random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on January 6, so don’t delay! {Contest is limited to US & Canadian readers only.}

Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?

Kathi and Cheri want to show you five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can finally create a plan that works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…

  • trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
  • decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
  • replace fear of the future with peace in the present

You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace.

[reminder]What’s the most difficult part of boundary-setting for you? [/reminder]

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