An Invitation to be Overwhelmed 2


“Only do what your heart tells you.”
Princess Dianna

While we were driving on Sunday evening, the 6 pm news played on the radio and the first thing they shared about was the recent attack in London. To be honest, I don’t really know what happened because within in a minute of it, I quickly turned off the radio as they started to play a live-recorded clip captured during the incident. A tornado of fear tore through the innocent moments I was sharing with my man. Sounds of terror came streaming into the car, they were dark, they ripped at my spirit and in an instant, I was overwhelmed.

I was overcome by fear and discomfort. I could not actually believe the news dared to play such a thing. Really? Why did they need to broadcast such violence and hatred? Shocked. Radio off – it’s gone – too much!

My natural instinct was to avoid it entirely so I just switched the radio off and scrambled my way back to my place of peace.

This week though, I have been wondering what would have happened to me had I stayed in that moment if I had restrained my instinct to run away the minute I felt uncomfortable. Would I have become so scared that I broke down into tears, overcome with grief at how broken the world really is? I have also been thinking about how life is filled up with such busy things, enough things so that we don’t have too much of one thing or another. We seem to strive for balance, for a way of living that avoids being overwhelmed and I am exploring the possibility that this might be a broken path itself.

What if we reached the place of being overwhelmed and we sat there a while? What if we listened to what our hearts would say in those moments and to see how we would respond, honestly? Maybe that news broadcast would have completely wrecked me, maybe I would have sobbed my heart all the way to where I was going, maybe I would have grieved, maybe this would have brought me to my knees, not knowing what I could do but praying that God would do something? Maybe I would have balled so hard that I could not hide it from the next person I saw or spoke to, maybe this would have been a stranger and maybe we could have grieved together, maybe even encouraged each other with a hug. Maybe this is what the world needs right now, more responses from the heart, out of love and compassion and less avoidance of things that are too difficult.

There are a million different maybe’s or what if’s but the one I am wondering about right now is that maybe being overwhelmed could be good for us. Maybe being overwhelmed by something is the birthplace of change, the point where we let our hearts break, we let them speak and we let them respond.

I think I am going to try to allow myself more time in the moments that overwhelm me and try listen closer to what my heart is telling me what do. I think I am going to try not avoiding so much, the troubling things in the world.

Maybe my heart will break but maybe it will expand too.

What do you think?


About Jo-Anne Gordon

I am South African born, with a fiery, passionate heart. I absolutely adore the smell of fireplaces burning in winter and freshly brewed coffee first thing in the morning. I am a dreamer, a deep thinker and have been on the most amazing spiritual journey since 2004. I am most captivated by black and white photography and my favourite moments in life are when you laugh until your sides ache. Always seeking, always learning, and always aspiring to a fully present life anchored by grace.

2 thoughts on “An Invitation to be Overwhelmed

  • Jodie McCarthy

    i know exactly how you feel Jo-Anne, I have been struggling with this too. I bawled my eyes out over Manchester, and then felt like I couldn’t watch the news about London, or Baghdad, and since then have been totally avoiding the news altogether.

    But as part of my ’embrace’ philosophy this year. I am trying to embrace that softness in myself, the fact that I grieve when others are hurt. I am trying to remind myself that it is not a fault, but something that has been placed in me from the beginning.

    Peace be with you as you navigate your way through this difficult terrain too.

    As the poet Nayyirah Waheed says ‘stay soft. it looks beautiful on you.’


  • Patricia

    To only accept and embrace “positive” emotions and thoughts is as naive and out of balance as the one who defaults to the negative and glass half empty. It is emotionally and spiritually mature to accept and dwell a while, in both. We are a bit of a cotton wool generation I think, which only leads to half functioning…like a one armed bandit.
    Sadness, fear, anger and sorrow, can lead to a real place of healing if we let it and manage these horrible feelings. And allow peace and joy to flow in equal tides!
    Most faiths allow for the kaleidoscope of emotions…from sack cloth to praise! ” Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. Ecclesiastes 7:3 “Sorrow is better than laughter; when the face is sad, the heart grows wise”. And so on….. So we ought not avoid it?
    Yet who doesnt love the sunshine on one’s shoulders, sand in the toes and beautiful sea air with all those warm contented feelings, hey?? It is human to want to avoid the yukky stuff!!

Comments are closed.