It was one of those days. I was driving to the airport in the pouring rain. The skies were grey. The day felt a bit gloomy. And honestly, so did I.

There were just a lot of little things swarming my thoughts. Feelings of inadequacy stinging. “There are so many things I’m responsible for and never enough hours in the day. I do enough to keep things from sinking. But I just wonder if I’m doing anything well. I don’t think I am – doing anything well.”

The more I focused on these thoughts, the more overpowered I became. The more overpowered I became, the more withdrawn I felt.

I pulled into the parking space and started the fight with my luggage. My suitcase has two wheels missing. And of course I keep intending to do something about this. But I don’t have time. So I make do with a crazy suitcase and a crazy life and a crazy sense I should just pack my family up and move out west somewhere. Live on a ranch where we grow our own food and I cook beans in a black pot over an open flame.

Surely that would fix everything.

Except that I know it wouldn’t.

Because the chaos isn’t from my circumstances. It’s inside me.

I boarded the plane. I stared out the window. I watched the grey clouds envelop us.

And then the grey broke.

Suddenly, we rose above the clouds and the sun was shining crazy bright and far wide and fabulously clear.

The clouds were just a temporary covering. They didn’t stop the sun from shining. They just prevented my eyes from seeing the sun. And it wasn’t just the sky that appeared a little brighter. My mood did as well.

I started to shift from feeling overpowered to empowered as I realized three things:

Just because I feel it doesn’t make it real.

Just like I felt the sun was gone but it was very much still there, I might feel like I’m not doing anything well, but it doesn’t make it true. The fact that I have weaknesses doesn’t make everything about me weak. I have plenty of strengths.

All I have to do is ask a couple of my friends or my family members to help me see what I do well. I can celebrate those, and then get a plan for bettering things that need improvement. I can start by identifying one thing to improve on this month. And do a little toward making that one thing better.

There are a lot of people who would trade their best day for my worst day.

Yes, I have a lot to manage. And yes, sometimes things get a little foggy. But that doesn’t mean I have to stay swallowed up in the grey. That means I need to get my head above the clouds and see all the many places where the sun is shining brightly in my life. So, I can start making a list of things for which I need to be thankful.

My mind needs some space to think.

If I always run at a breakneck pace, I’m eventually going to break. My mind is a powerful tool, capable of seeing things that can be done more efficiently and effectively if I give myself time to think. When is the last time I just sat quietly with a pen and paper and asked the Lord to help me think?

As 2 Corinthians 12:9 teaches, God’s power is made perfect in weakness. When I’m sinking in thoughts of inadequacy and plans to relocate out west, I remember that my ability is not based on what I can do. My ability and strength come from the One who can do all things. With the Lord working in me and through my weaknesses, I can feel the transformation from being overpowered to empowered taking place.

If the clouds have been looming close lately, maybe it’s time to stop. Pause. Lift your eyes to an altitude that can rearrange your attitude.

By Lysa TerKeurst

Feeling overpowered by your own toxic thoughts? Learn more about combatting that negative inside chatter with Lysa’s book Unglued. Click here to purchase your copy!

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  1. 1
    SarahJane says:

    “Because the chaos isn’t from my circumstances. It’s inside me.”

    I feel like this sums up a lot of what God has been trying to teach me in the past year. He has stripped me down and taken everything away – everything that defined my identity – and I have found a lot of ugliness and chaos in my heart in the midst of the quietest season I have ever been in. As my life is starting to pick up again, I’m trying to hold on to the peace I have with God in Christ. I’m trying to remind myself that my worth does not rest in what I do, but rather in Whose I am. I never would have guessed that it would be this hard to let go of my chaos – cause I don’t want it anyway! – but it is my “familiar”, and peace and trust are scary.

    • 2
      Beth Williams says:

      SarahJane,

      I am praying that God shows you His love & Peace. That He makes known to you that you are loved for Whose you are.

      I need that too! I have had a lot of ugliness in the past 5-6 months. My job changed so that I pretty much dread coming in daily. Feelings of inadequacy & stupid well up in me.

      May God bless our lives & give us a sense of peace! :)

    • 3

      Sarah, that’s pretty common to feel the chaos inside us when we have space to do so…a.k.a. the quieter seasons. Your comment makes me curious: are you a generally active, intense (in a good way) person? I know I am, and quiet seasons make me crazy — not because it’s bad that I’m intense, but because God made me that way. I’ve just had to learn how to let Him empower it instead of it overpower me :) . Just a thought…

  2. 4

    Lysa,
    Thank you for the much needed reminder that “just because I feel it, doesn’t make it real.” If you let the camel (negative self thoughts) get his nose under the tent, before you know it he’s completely in the tent! We need to remind ourselves that we are daughters of the King! Thanks for the attitude adjustment…
    Blessings,
    Bev

  3. 5

    I’m so glad that we have a Heavenly Father to help pull us out of our craziness!
    I’m also glad I have a husband who can hint that maybe it’s a little too much :-)

  4. 6

    “There’s a lot of people who would trade their best day for my worst day.”

    Ah, the power of perspective. Thanks for this reminder. God is good, all the time, even when the sun isn’t shining.

  5. 7

    Love this. Needed this. Sharing this. Thanks!

  6. 8

    This resonated with me today. Thank you!! I think I need a tattoo of the quote: “Just because I feel it doesn’t make it real.”

  7. 9
    Jennifer says:

    Lysa, I love this post! I’ve read it before….but forgot how awesome it is. I’ve printed it and saved it for when I’m having one of “those days”. Such wisdom from Heaven flows through your fingertips to all of us out here – you are such a source of God’s SONshine in my life! bless you for being real, and weak, and sharing it to strengthen me! Love you!

  8. 10
    Rebecca says:

    Thanks Lisa, I needed that! :)

  9. 11

    Yes, YES, YES!!! That! So good!

  10. 12

    Oh, yes. I’ve been wanting to buy your book because I so often let my feelings run my life. I’m learning to step back and focus on God’s goodness and what He thinks of my life. Thank you for this encouragement!

  11. 13

    Thank you for the encouragement today Lisa, I sure needed to hear that . Sometimes I truly feel like I am the only one with weaknesses in this world and who feels overwhelmed. So many ladies seem to have it all together in their marriage and raising their kids…Thank you Holy Spirit for laying this on Lisas heart to share with all of us.

  12. 14

    “The clouds were just a temporary covering. They didn’t stop the sun from shining. They just prevented my eyes from seeing the sun.” God gave me this exact same thought, along with, “Pretty sunrises never come from a cloudless sky. It takes at least some haze to birth beauty!” a few months ago. :)

  13. 15

    You spoke words that I have spoken and voice before. “I don’t do anything well”. I am good at things, but I’m not an expert or really good at anything. I think these are Satan thoughts meant to distract us from what we truly are accomplishing and our potential. It is so amazing when those clouds pass.

  14. 16
    Ginger Armstrong says:

    Can SO relate… Thank you for the reminder! I so needed to hear it! I am taking a break today and just focusing on Him…
    Much love to you Lysa!

  15. 17

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who can begin to feel inadequate, nor the only one that envisions packing everyone up and fleeing somewhere else (a wooded area) in order to start anew! Thanks for this post. :)

  16. 18
    Tiffany says:

    This is so what I’ve been going through . Thank you for encouragement to look above and slow down

  17. 19

    Beautiful piece! I loved these lines: I remember that my ability is not based on what I can do. My ability and strength come from the One who can do all things.

    This post came to me at the most perfect time. Thank you for the inspiration. This surely made me feel empowered! :)

  18. 20
    Stephanie says:

    Thanks Lysa. This is the word I needed. I was just here feeling overwhelmed, overworked, unappreciated and really down. I was just asking the Lord to give peace and calm and seeking comfort, when I opened this mail. God bless you.

  19. 21
    Beth Williams says:

    Lysa,

    Oh how this resonated with me lately!! Changes at work have made feelings of inadequacy and the ensuing ugliness well up in side of me so much that I spewed some on people who don’t deserve it. They have left me feeling overpowered and withdrawn from my norm.

    “move out west somewhere. Live on a ranch where we grow our own food and I cook beans in a black pot over an open flame.” That line really hit home. I would lvoe to do just that–go far far away from my troubles and people. personally I love the west and it’s vast emptiness–spaces filled with nothing, but God’s beauty!

    During all this turmoil–I started a “thankful journal”. I list ALL things I’m thankful for–big and small. Then each day I put down the stuff that I’m thankful for that day–spending time with hubby, sleeping good, nice weather–Each little bit! That helps me put my life into perspective!

    Thanks for a great, great post! :) )

  20. 22

    I, too, took great encouragement from the line: “Just because I feel it doesn’t make it real.” Clouds of challenging circumstances and relationships can hide reality. And their thick oppressiveness is difficult to ignore. But any moment the Son may break through with a miracle! We may even discover it has been forming behind that cloud bank for some time; we just couldn’t see it. I want to focus on such positive possibilities, and not on the dull grayness of ongoing problems. Lord, help me!

  21. 23

    Oh, the Lord brought this to me today, His perfect timing! I needed to hear these words from another Sister because I couldn’t find them myself today! This: “As 2 Corinthians 12:9 teaches, God’s power is made perfect in weakness. When I’m sinking in thoughts of inadequacy and plans to relocate out west, I remember that my ability is not based on what I can do. My ability and strength come from the One who can do all things. With the Lord working in me and through my weaknesses, I can feel the transformation from being overpowered to empowered taking place.”
    Thanking the Lord for your words today Lysa!

  22. 24
    Theresa Rodina Caraway says:

    Oh…LOL…Lysa..you not only gave such a beautiful testimony to parallel our Saviors wisd’om he always gives us..if we seek it as you do, but you made me remember the days..I jet setted with two little ones…(their fathers job has him traveling every week nationally and internationally..and perk was free travel for me and kids)…..so I sitting here with my warm coffee in my cozy recliner…at 55yrs of age…was tickled as I saw myself in your very human situation…God Bless you honey…You’re so annointed of God in all you do and share!<3..
    Thank you!

  23. 25

    Lysa – thank you for sharing this word! I have felt attacked in every area if my life lately buy this is a great reminder of the One who is the Overcomer.
    Blessings,
    Missy

  24. 26

    Thank you for posting this, Lysa! I just finished reading your book “Unglued,” and so much of it resonated with me. I am a constant worrier, always feeling like I need to be in control, very black-and-white thinker, very emotional person, and I am constantly in the prayer closet (aka bathroom at work) asking God to remind me that my feelings are fleeting and to obey Him through those feelings. Your book has helped me to do this even more.

    And wow, what a beautiful picture! I love flying, especially on cloudy days, for this very reason. It also reminds me that just because things are stormy now doesn’t mean they always will be, and that God is always there behind it and through it all.

  25. 27

    Thank you! This is just what I needed today. I was just asking The Lord last night, “what is going on with me, why do I feel this way?” And He used your post to speak right into my heart.

  26. 28
    lindimity says:

    I had to smile when I read that you “sense that you should move out west and cook beans in a black pot over and open fire.” When things get overwhelming, my sister and I always joke about “it’s time to move to Montana,” as if a change of scenery would fix everything. I thank God that He offers solutions to my feelings of inadequacy and inability to cope, and that He is teaching me to accept those solutions as I come to know Him better.

  27. 29

    Wow, Lysa. Thank you for putting it all so succinctly. How many of us on this site go through these exact same emotions! So there it is in black and white, delivered by your hand and brought fully home by the Holy Spirit.

    To God by the glory

  28. 30

    Wow, Lysa. Thank you for putting it all so succinctly. How many of us on this site go through these exact same emotions! So there it is in black and white, delivered by your hand and brought fully home by the Holy Spirit.

    To God be the glory