They looked at me like I had French fries sticking out of my ears. All I'd asked my group of fourth graders to do was to set up their binders. But you'd think I'd asked them to do the impossible because—frankly, in retrospect—that's exactly what I'd asked them to do: the impossible.
Sure, setting up a binder might sound simple enough. But only if you've done it before. To a novice, the stack of supplies can be absolutely intimidating. There's the dividers with the teeny, tiny labels. Where do they go and what are they for? And what about the notebook paper? Where does it go and how much goes there? And what in the world about the zipper pouch? What goes in that thing?
When I slowly saw my students' facial expressions morph from complete confusion to utter panic, I knew we had to backtrack and quickly so. It wasn't time to crumble underneath the crippling feeling of being overwhelmed. It was simply time to slow down and break it down, into smaller, much more manageable steps. We could do this. They could do this. I just had to show them how.
So I came up with a little mnemonic to help my students not just manage this task, but better manage every situation that may otherwise leave them feeling overwhelmed and frozen to the spot. It helped them. It's helped me. And it's my sincere hope that it may help you too:
When you’re worried and want to yell, “Oh, crap!”
Don’t. Instead just go, “Oh, SNAP!”
Stop: Just stop your brain. Stop your thoughts. Stop your worries. Remember that fear never helps (Proverbs 29:25), so stop it in its tracks!
No negativity: It’s easy to drown in worries about all that can—and maybe already is—going wrong. Don’t. Resist it by intentionally filling your thoughts with other, more constructive thoughts (Deuteronomy 31:6, Philippians 4:8).
All that you know: You know a lot! It may just not feel like it right now. Refuse to act based on how you feel. Instead, remember all that you know. Think of things that’s worked in the past. Let (positive) history repeat itself. Recall Scriptures that will help comfort and navigate you. (Need a starting point? Check out Romans 12:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Hebrews 13:5, Proverbs 3:5 and Proverbs 16:9.)
Put it to use: Now that you’ve taken a moment to remember all that you know, it’s time to put it into action. Take it one step at a time. Do the next right thing. And never forget that God’s got this (Isaiah 14:24, Isaiah 45:7) and He’s got you too (Job 12:10, Deuteronomy 31:6, Micah 7:8b).
God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
- A recipe is nothing more than step-by-step instructions on how to get to a finished product. How can you break down larger, more complicated tasks into smaller, more manageable steps? These are your own recipes for success.
- Recognize that how you feel isn't always a true indication of reality. Work to not let your emotions run away with you. What are some specific things you can do to step in and stop this process in its tracks?
- How can working to not feel overwhelmed demonstrate self-control?
Dear Father God,
Thank You for being a God of peace and for so willingly sharing that peace with me. How wonderful it is to know that I can ground myself, my choices and my actions in the truth of Your Word and not in the fickleness of my own emotions. May I praise You in all that I do. Amen.