Finding Strength and Grace When I am Overwhelmed


January was an incredibly difficult month for me. It began on the first day of the month. My elderly mother who lives with me fell, and we spent half of the day in the ER making sure she was okay and getting her head sewn up.

Three weeks later, she fell again. This time the ER visit turned into an 8 day hospital stay and now has become patient in a rehab facility. While caring for my mother has been my priority, I’ve been stretched to my limits on how to care for myself.

All of a sudden my emotional, physical, mental resources were stretched as I found myself trying to juggle a job, kids, husband, church, and an almost full-time demand from my mother for my attention. Now in Mom’s normal state, she would insist that I not stretch myself too thin for her sake but these are not normal days for Mom. She is in the throes of dementia and Alzheimer’s.  Strange hospital and rehab settings have frightened her and I am her comfort.

On paper, that may not sound like a big deal but in reality it’s been almost more than I can handle. I can’t begin to describe how guilty I’ve felt every time I’ve left the hospital or rehab facility with her crying for me to stay. Many days, I’ve gone to bed struggling with guilt and woke up feeling guilty.

Now I get it intellectually. There is only so much of me. I know Mother is safe and well-cared for by her nurses and care staff. But emotionally, I am spent, exhausted, stretched to my limits, and I am sad. Sad beyond words that my mother is losing so much of her memory. Sad that she thought her caregiver was me all night one night this week. I am grieving the loss of part of my mother. The things she can no longer remember that are part of our history together.

And I have been trying, diligently, to have healthy boundaries. Everything I know about maintaining healthy boundaries has been challenged.

Can I detach from the situation and be present emotionally with my husband and children? What do I need to say no to in order to survive the here and now? What do I need personally in order to find calm and peace? What is appropriate and what is unrealistic? How many hours do I need to spend at the rehab center?

As the only living child, the weight of my decisions feels crushing. Doctors advise and then look to me for decisions.

I’ve cancelled so many of my work appointments in order to help Mother and yet my work anchors me. Gives me life. Calms me. Feels purposeful. And I juggle.

It’s getting a bit easier but it’s far from over.

I tried to write something more hopeful but this is where I am. This is my reality. Tears are always just under the surface.

The tug-of-war between the voices in my head and heart continue.

I’m trying to lean into God’s presence and His grace but often find myself anxious.

But I remember the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 61:2, “When I am overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

I am crawling up on that rock and collapsing, knowing that when I don’t have anything to give, He strengthens me. And also knowing that He beckons me to live through these days with my Superwoman cape still packed away and refusing to put it on, no matter how much it seems necessary. I hear Him reminding me of my humanness. My limits. His sufficiency. His unlimitedness. My weakness. His strength.

I try to remember that the Higher Rock has the big picture in view, the one I can’t completely see yet. Well truthfully, for the most part, I can’t even see a glimpse of it but I believe and I trust that He does.

And I am so glad He doesn’t condemn me for being overwhelmed but provides a place for me in Him to find peace and strength.

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Categories : Aging, Authenticity, Grace


  1. Your strength is inspiring….always praying for you and SO amazed of your willingness to be so vulnerable and transparent! You continue to WOW me…so thank you for being you!!:-)

  2. Susi Harbour says:

    This is grief. It hurts and there doesn’t seem to be
    anything good about it. Yet, God has prepared
    you for it, and moves you through it as you allow
    Him to. Look at all the resources He has given
    you to weather this time. Work, family, vulnerability,
    a gift for voicing your heart. Let your relationship
    With Him be your ballast. I have found that God
    serms so close during these times. He has equipped
    you, uniquely, to walk with grace through this dark
    moment. Love you, Mikki.

  3. Sandra Harper says:

    I love you so much and wish I could just put my arms around you and make it all better. I know I can’t fix this but I sure do want to. I am also glad this is happening in this season of your life and not a few years ago or even several “few years” ago. You are better able to set your boundaries and lean into the Lord now than ever before. I pray for you almost every day and know that HE will strengthen you and guide you in all of your decisions, even if you might not think so at the time. Some can be very hard to make but I think in all you have shared HE is showing you that you can let go and let others help.

  4. Janet Barlow says:

    I love what Bro. Henry Melton used to say….”If He brings you to it He will bring you through it!” Praying for God’s grace for you as He see’s you through this season of your life!

  5. Sharman Gillingham says:

    As God gave your mom everything she needed through your ‘growing years’, He will be your Everything for her ‘going years.’ Your vunerability to share with others your own pain, makes you clay in the Potter’s Hands. Remember that while our Rock is strong enough to lean on He is Tender enough to Embrace us in the midst of our suffering. May you receive His blessings in the midst of this sorrow from the arms of others who wish to be ‘Jesus with skin on’ to you. Love you much, Mikki!

  6. Mikki says:

    Thank you so much, Sharman. Love you, too!

  7. Mikki says:

    Thanks, Susi. I always love hearing your words of wisdom. Love and miss you guys!

  8. Mikki says:

    Thank you, Rebekah. It helps me to write about it. So honored to have you reading.

  9. Mikki says:

    Thanks, Sandra. I truly appreciate the prayers and love.

  10. Mikki says:

    Thanks for the prayers, Janet!

  11. Song says:

    Mikki, I’m so proud of you for writing this post. You are handling this with grace, and your honesty is so healthy for you and for others. I love you and am praying for you. You’re my HERO!!!

  12. kathy panas says:

    I am going through this at a slower pace with Ted. It is hard, sometimes so stressful and other times it gets comical and so funny and we all laugh. It is not my nature to go through things like this easily, but God has helped me see the funny side. I don’t know if I will maintain this ease, I pray so, but sometimes when I loose it I think I can’t continue and then from nowhere the humor occurs, and from that comes strength I never knew was in me. I will pray for you as you journey through this season. I love you Mikki and miss you all so much!

  13. caroline says:

    Live with no regrets. The rest will fall in place.

  14. Mikki says:

    Kathy, I think of you two often and pray for grace and strength. You are such special people!

  15. Mikki says:

    Thanks, Song. You are always encouraging.

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