Feeling Swamped?

When I watched “The Perfect Storm” I clutched the arm of my chair and frequently held my breath, willing the Andrea Gail to survive the mountainous waves. By the time the huge rogue wave hit I was gasping for air. I knew her survival was unlikely. There was a sense of desperation coupled with despair.

It’s a feeling I’ve experienced before… when life’s pressures become unbearable and I’m sure I’m going under.

Sometimes it can be caused by unrelenting responsibilities, by impossible-to-meet deadlines, or a list of commitments greater than the amount of time it will take to accomplish them. I want everything to go away and leave me in solitude and silence, but that’s an unrealistic desire.

Writers under contract know the feeling. So do parents running a personal chauffeur service to soccer games and piano lessons, orthodontic appointments, sleepovers and birthday parties. Christmas preparations do it for some. There’s all that shopping and cleaning, baking and decorating, school concerts and church pageants, and the realization that the in-laws are arriving in exactly one week.

One summer we took our young children into the mountains of Alberta for an afternoon on the beautiful glacial waters of Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park. In our small homemade runabout we sailed down the length of the lake unaware of the rising wind behind us until the waves made us realize we needed to turn around and head back to the shore. The turning almost swamped us, and as we motored into the wind, waves repeatedly crashed over the bow and windscreen, soaking us. It was thanks to the kindhearted pilot of a passing larger cruiser that we made it back to land safely. He pulled alongside of us, then slowly moved in front, creating a protected space for us within his wake.

We learned an important lesson that day, one that also applies to other aspects of life. When circumstances threaten to swamp us we need to find a shelter from our storm, before we become a shipwreck statistic.

Do you have a survival plan? How do you deal with sudden onslaughts of overwhelming stress?


Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” [Mark 6:31]


Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.  Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. [Matthew 8:23-26]


Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

13 thoughts on “Feeling Swamped?

  1. Not sure that I “deal” so well. I just have to take some time and put things into perspective. My husband likes to remind me, when I have a whole list of to do’s and a short amount of time, that one way or another it will get done, and getting worked up about these things doesn’t help a bit. So then I start tackling what’s before me. He’s right, though, I always get what needs to be done on time.

    1. We can waste a lot of time and energy on fretting, but sometimes we work more efficiently under pressure. If I have a deadline I’m far more likely to push myself to get things done. I guess knowing our abilities and limitations helps.

  2. Surviving the Storm? My funny story is that my DH always tells me I need to learn to say “no”. He said, “People are always asking you do head this committee, or to speak to their group, etc. You just need to learn to relax.”
    So I think to myself, he’s right. I grab a glass of iced tea (or iced coffee) pull a book off the shelf, put my feet up ready to relax when I hear. “Honey, could you cover me up? I’m trying to take a nap and I’m getting cold.”
    When I was younger I let the storm control me, today, now that I’m a “seasoned storm chaser”, I take a deep breath and prioritize. AND I always start the day in prayer. No storm is too big for HIM.
    Merry Christmas my sweet friend–
    Love you

    1. That’s so funny, Katt! Well meaning men… gotta love ’em. I do think we have to recognize our limitations and learn to prioritize, as Carol Ann says, and learn to say “no” occasionally, as your husband says. I learned the truth of Jesus’ comment that “The spirit is willing but the body is weak.” It’s when we set unrealistic goals for ourselves that we’re going to get into trouble.

  3. I try to pull myself into the moment. Then I ask questions like, “Is anything wrong at this precise moment? Are you okay? Is your family okay? Then take a deep breath and find that peace you know is there.” It works every time.

    Carol, btw, the lake is “almost” frozen over!

    1. I like that approach. It would put the situation into immediate perspective.

      As for that lake of yours… seeing the temperatures that are forecasted for you over the next several days, it may well freeze up during this weekend. Brrr!

  4. I pray for wisdom in prioritizing and rethinking my task list. If this doesn’t show me how to navigate my stormy sea, I pray for grace to get through it.

    I think checking the validity of all that one has to face is the first issue, because God promises to provide time and energy to do what He wills us to do. Sometimes we unwittingly add things that He didn’t intend for us to do. I have taken on more than I should have many times in my lifetime. If this is not the case, we may know that we will receive His strength and His favor to help us. Blessings to you…

    1. You’re very wise, Carol Ann! During my younger years one of my mistakes was taking God’s promise so literally that I missed its point. We wonder why God doesn’t help us cope when we’ve filled our lives with commitments of our own choosing with no thought to whether they are of His choosing, too.

  5. The only way my husband and I have survived so far the storm we are in is by trusting that God has a better plan and that He will slowly reveal it to us if we seek Him. Trying hard to do that:)

  6. “He pulled alongside of us, then slowly moved in front, creating a protected space for us within his wake.”

    I love this visual!

    God may not take us out of the storm, but He leaves a wake for us.

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