When You’re Drowning in Peanut Butter

3 tests and 2 quizzes to study for. 4 units of paperwork and activities to complete. A 5-page paper on the dietary culture of France to write. 200 pages of a novel to read. 200+ pages of textbook reading for Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Food Systems Management, and Basic Foods. 300 medical terms to memorize. And a cup full of decisions to make- do I take 19-hour semesters + summer school to graduate on time, or do I graduate a year late and get to experience living in Vienna for a semester? Do I apply for the job I need but don’t have time for, or the internship to boost my resume and improve my chances of Grad school acceptance, or add another night class for 2nd term, raising my current hours from 18 to 21? Which do I sacrifice- time with friends, sleep, or studying?

Sometimes, college isn’t so fun. Sometimes, it’s really stressful. Decisions are hard to make. And then even harder to accept that you made the wrong one. It stinks to realize 2 years into college that you need to switch majors. (But not as bad as it would stink to realize this AFTER college.) On the flip side, it’s amazing how much joy being in the right field of study can bring. But then with that, comes an equal amount of frustration for spending 2 years taking classes you no longer need and, consequently, being incredibly far behind.

And somedays, it feels like you’re never going to make it to the other side.

Like you’ve been wading in a pit of quick sand for hours and can’t figure out how to get out.

Or, to steal a phrase from one of our campus ministers, like you’re trying to swim in a big pool of peanut butter. But instead of swimming, it feels more like drowning. You can see how close you are to the edge, but your body is ready to give up. The edge is close, but just not close enough.

And it’s on those days when our to-do list is a mile long, and we’ve told ourselves we can’t get it all done, and we’re ready to give up, that we have to stop and remember some things about life.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t have a pause button. Or a slow motion. We can’t make everything stop long enough to get all of our stuff done. The earth won’t stop spinning to give us more time. But what we do have is 24 hours. And then tomorrow, if there’s still breath in our lungs, we have a fresh 24 hours. And each day, we have the God of Heavens waiting to renew us. Waiting to give us a fresh start. A clean slate. So if you wasted time yesterday and didn’t get things done, leave it there. Don’t bring yesterday’s mistakes to today’s clean slate. When we made big cheer signs in high school for football games, if we messed up on one, we started over on a blank poster. And we didn’t start on the blank poster by redoing the same mistakes we made on the first one. We started fresh, and made it better. So why do we let our mistakes of yesterday nag at us and cloud our brain for today. Why do we say “If only I would have done all of this yesterday, I wouldn’t have so much to do today!!”? You’re probably right. You wouldn’t have to do it today. But the point is, you’re where you are now, and that’s all you have to work with. Let go of what you should have done yesterday, and do it today. Forgive yourself for those mistakes and move on.

And when it comes to making decisions, why is our first response to stress ourselves out to the point of sickness when we serve a God who created all things, and has asked us to bring our requests to Him? Have you thought about that? When we knock down Heaven’s door with confusion, and frustration, and fear in our hearts, begging for help, we aren’t annoying God. We aren’t a burden. We aren’t begging a teacher to help us who has no interest in whether or not we get an answer. We are doing exactly what God has asked us to do. What He has commanded us to do.

“Be anxious for NOTHING, but in everything, by PRAYER and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7
To really grasp how powerful this concept is, I think about how disappointed my dad would be if I desperately needed help with something but never asked. Like if I had a flat tire on the side of the road, and instead of calling and asking for help, I spent hours trying to figure it out myself only to end up sweaty, frustrated, and still stuck on the side of the road. Or if you’re already a parent, think about how upset you would be to find out that your child had struggled with something that you could have helped with if only they had asked. God isn’t looking at us thinking, “Wow, these people can’t do anything for themselves. They can’t even figure out how to make decisions.” He’s looking at us as a father looks at their child who is trying to learn something new and is willing to ask for help. He’s ready and willing and eager to help us. But He’s waiting for us to stop trying to do it all on our own and come to Him. And guess what? Really awesome things can happen when we have God on our side, fighting with us and for us.
“Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired Heaven.” – Psalm 107:28-30

Being guided to my desired Heaven instead of spending hours with my stomach in knots sounds pretty good to me.

Don’t be too big to ask God for guidance. Don’t make yourself sick trying to do it on your own. God can ask for anything He wants from us, and He asks for a relationship. He asks for communication. He wants to know our fears and our joys. Our dreams and our passions. He wants to help; He’s made that clear. Now, He’s just waiting for you to ask. And when I think about that, I can’t help but picture how excited my dad gets when I ask Him to help me with things. Can you think of someone who takes advantage of every opportunity to help you? If you have someone on earth who loves you with that kind of selfless love, you are blessed. But we all find that kind of love in God. He wants to be that person for us. He’s waiting to be that person for us. All it takes is us asking for His help. He’s ready when you are.

And then, sometimes, having a long to-do list reminds us how important prioritizing is in life. We might be 100% accurate in saying we don’t have time to get everything done. Maybe we over-committed ourselves, or got distracted, or had too many demands placed on us. But when the time comes to pick and choose what obligations to fulfill, we have to make some decisions based on priorities. And if we have our priorities in order the way they should be, everything will be ok. And if we don’t, we’re in for some trouble.

If we priortize making money, we’ll never make enough to be satisfied.
If it’s relationships, we’ll never be happy with the ones we have, because humans aren’t perfect and we let each other down. A lot.
If it’s being well-liked, we’ll drive ourselves crazy trying to fit the different molds everyone gives us.
But if it’s God, we’ll be satisfied. We’ll learn to love others like God loves us- in spite of their mistakes. We’ll accept ourselves for who we are and let that be enough.

“But seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

When you feel like you’re being crushed by the demands of everyday life, when it feels like a time of rest or renewal is never coming, when, instead of swimming in a crystal blue swimming pool, you feel more like you’re drowning in peanut butter, take a breather. Remind yourself that your worth isn’t determined by your works. Pray for guidance. And reach out for God’s helping hand. He’s ready to save you from whatever is consuming your thoughts. He’s ready to pull you out of that peanut butter and lead you to a more desirable Heaven. A place of clarity, renewal, and rest.

And a place that’s a little less sticky (;