Remember When You Survived Feeling Overwhelmed? Yeah, Me Too

Do you remember the summer you were thirty-one years old?

Honestly, I don’t. But lately some memories are trickling through…

Such as our glorious joyful wedding celebration and then driving together up the Pacific coast from my old home near San Francisco to my new home near Seattle with the Welcome Home sign hanging on our front door.

And, did I mention that the day we returned from our honeymoon, my new three kids got out of school for the summer and Mike went back to work?

Most everything else after that is a bit of a blur.

God had answered my prayers above and beyond how I could have imagined the script of my story. Having patiently (and sometimes not-so-patiently) waited for the love of my life, I met Mike, who had been wid­owed three years prior and was busy juggling single parenting and campus ministry.

I took on marriage and motherhood all in one single walk down a very long aisle and was over-the-moon happy.

But I also felt totally overwhelmed. Every single thing in my life had changed, except God.

Thus, I have suppressed much of my memory of that summer. Psychologists say suppression “is the conscious process of pushing unwanted, anxiety-provoking thoughts, memories, emotions, fantasies and desires out of awareness.” When circumstances in life become more than we can handle, we make a choice (sometimes unconsciously) to forget them.

Today, thirty-eight years later, I dig deep to recall those faltering beginnings.

In my fog of memory, I see piles of laundry and hours spent in the kitchen trying to make magic—healthy meals on a budget that were tasty to kids and my new husband alike. I remember registering at the Uni­versity of Washington for a night class on how to advocate for our special needs child who was a challenging puzzle to me.

I know there were fun times like discovering all the wonderful parks and lakes near us, but I also enrolled my kids in just about every Vacation Bible School in the area, so I could take a shower! Somehow in the midst of all this juggling, I managed to pass the legal requirements and home study, culminating in my court appearance to legally adopt Justin, Timmy, and Fiona.

Still, I felt like a complete failure when after only a month after our wedding, we began marriage counseling. I wanted to be everything to my husband and children who were still reeling from loss.

But I hardly even recognized the person inhabit­ing my body.

Strength and skills I knew so well were no longer required, and everything I needed now was way beyond my comfort zone. My expectations of everyone around me—but especially of myself—were unreasonable. I was filled with striving and survival. My insecurities were exacerbated by my own comparisons to their late wife and mother who had died all too young.

All my dreams had come true, but I was drowning in them.

This snippet is but a portion of my lifelong story of grace, of coming to the end of myself and finally allowing God to step in and assure me of His unfailing love and acceptance. Of finally opening the gift I don’t deserve and can never earn—grace—and allowing it to be the foundation of my life and identity. Of drawing on divine strength to do that which I could never do on my own—vibrantly live what seemed too often to be an impossible life.

This is how I have spent my years. Living out that story. Learning how to become soul strong.

  • I had to fail and fall so God could lift me up and I could echo with cer­tainty, “Nothing is impossible with God.”
  • I had to release my efforts of trying to be per­fect, trying to be all.
  • I had to realize that God would give me exactly what I needed (time, resources, ability, wisdom, strength) to accomplish what matters most.
  • I had to both let go and grab hold—to relinquish and receive.

Only by the grace of God are those same people still present in my life. They love me deeply and I them. You see, we actually survived that time of feeling overwhelmed as well as some much more difficult seasons since then. Perhaps you also know how overwhelmed feels…

What story are you living now that will one day be remembered? I’m praying God gives you the soul strength to move forward with hope and expectation for this new season.

         May the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the friendship of the Holy Spirit  bring you comfort and strength, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2022 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouraging words at


  1. Cindy Bolshaw on February 9, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    Wow! Thank you, Lucinda. What a story you have. Thank you for your honesty in sharing.

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on February 9, 2022 at 3:30 pm

      Cindy, probably some of the hardest words I have ever published…. thanks for your encouragement.

  2. Cyndy Barnes on February 9, 2022 at 3:32 pm

    Once again, Lucinda, you have hit every section of my heart and soul! Thank you, thank you for always including us in that circle of humans that accept we are not perfect, but His love is! Every word you utter, speaks to my heart. Never stop writing my friend. You are loved and prayed for always.

    • Sheila Bradshaw on February 9, 2022 at 9:53 pm

      My friend, Mary J, shared this post with me. Oh! I am so thankful she did! You have been able to express in words similar feelings and challenges that I have had the past two years with my husband and children. Although painful, the situation has caused me to move closer to the Lord, moving me to realize how much He loves me – so much that He gave Jesus to die in my place. Now, I am desiring to serve Him the rest of my days, not myself. I acknowledge that He is in control of all, not me. Now, I have peace, joy, love.

  3. Lucinda Secrest McDowell on February 9, 2022 at 3:36 pm

    Oh, dear Cyndy, you know. You know. And yet…. we got through, eh? God is so good and so full of grace and mercy. Thank you for telling me to keep writing, as I needed to hear that today. Hugs to you and PB….

  4. Carol Nicholls on February 9, 2022 at 3:47 pm

    This winter season has been my full surrender time. I so understand what you are describing. Thank you..

  5. Maggie Rowe on February 9, 2022 at 3:58 pm

    Cindy, though you have described this period of your life candidly in the past, I still cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to become the mother of three children – one with special needs – literally overnight. A joyous answer to prayer for marriage and motherhood, yes, but also a sacrifice of nearly everything in your life prior to that point. And then you added a new baby to the mix. Thank you for the vulnerability to share and also to recommend counseling. You truly are soul strong.

  6. Melody+Chapman on February 10, 2022 at 4:20 am

    Thanks for sharing this difficult time. I’m sure you were an answer to prayer for that family, even though you didn’t feel like it.
    My youngest son is experiencing a tough time. This gives me hope.

  7. Barbara Latta on February 10, 2022 at 10:30 am

    “I had to fail and fall so God could life me up.” I have been there too and so thankful for the grace that reaches out with hands of mercy instead of condemnation. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  8. Carole Lewis on February 10, 2022 at 8:34 pm

    So well written, my friend. Your transparency and vulnerability help others who are going through hard times to realize we all will get through them because of the love and power of Jesus.

  9. Jim Glasgow on February 26, 2022 at 3:09 pm

    So moved by your honest vulnerability Cindy. My Heroes are those who are willing to use their “sufferings” to serve others. Thanks for using your weakness to be His Strength. Jim G.

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