From Overpowered to Empowered

Originally published on October 3, 2012.

A few weeks ago I drove to the airport in the pouring rain. The skies were grey. The day felt a bit gloomy. And honestly, so did I.

There were just a lot of little things swarming my thoughts. Feelings of inadequacy stinging. “There are so many things I’m responsible for and never enough hours in the day. I do enough to keep things from sinking. But I just wonder if I’m doing anything well. I don’t think I am – doing anything well.”

The more I focused on these thoughts, the more overpowered I became. The more overpowered I became, the more withdrawn I felt.

I pulled into the parking space and started the fight with my luggage. My suitcase has two wheels missing. And of course I keep intending to do something about this. But I don’t have time. So I make do with a crazy suitcase and a crazy life and a crazy sense I should just pack my family up and move out west somewhere. Live on a ranch where we grow our own food and I cook beans in a black pot over an open flame.

Surely that would fix everything.

Except that I know it wouldn’t.

Because the chaos isn’t from my circumstances. It’s inside me.

I boarded the plane. I stared out the window. I watched the grey clouds envelop us.

And then the grey broke.

Suddenly, we rose above the clouds and the sun was shining crazy bright and far wide and fabulously clear.

The clouds were just a temporary covering. They didn’t stop the sun from shining. They just prevented my eyes from seeing the sun. And it wasn’t just the sky that appeared a little brighter. My mood did as well.

I started to shift from feeling overpowered to empowered as I realized three things:

* Just because I feel it doesn’t make it real.
The key to controlling negative emotions and inside chatter: Just because you feel it doesn't make it real. www.lysaterkeurst.com

Just like I felt the sun was gone but it was very much still there, I might feel like I’m not doing anything well, but it doesn’t make it true. The fact that I have weaknesses doesn’t make everything about me weak. I have plenty of strengths.

All I have to do is ask a couple of my friends or my family members to help me see what I do well. I can celebrate those, and then get a plan for bettering things that need improvement. I can start by identifying one thing to improve on this month. And do a little toward making that one thing better.

* There are a lot of people who would trade their best day for my worst day.

Yes, I have a lot to manage. And yes, sometimes things get a little foggy. But that doesn’t mean I have to stay swallowed up in the grey. That means I need to get my head above the clouds and see all the many places where the sun is shining brightly in my life. So, I can start making a list of things for which I need to be thankful.

* My mind needs some space to think.

If I always run at a breakneck pace, I’m eventually going to break. My mind is a powerful tool, capable of seeing things that can be done more efficiently and effectively if I give myself time to think. When is the last time I just sat quietly with a pen and paper and asked the Lord to help me think?

If the clouds have been looming close lately, maybe it’s time to stop. Pause. Lift your eyes to an altitude that can rearrange your attitude.

And if you happen to know where I can get some good luggage with sturdy wheels, do tell.


  1. Helen Y says

    This and the encouragement for today dev were exactly what I needed to hear as I started to feel overwhelmed with life and wondered if I really can do anything right! God says he will help me!

  2. says

    I love this post. I DO that. That cloud thing and I sooooo love flying for seeing the sun above the clouds to REMIND me!!! I love 2 Peter 1:12-15 I will always REMIND you…it is right to REFRESH YOUR MEMORY…and I will make every effort to see that after I leave you will always be able to REMEMBER… I just love that guy and his words! I need these reminders. Thanks for sharing that you struggle too.
    Love, Kathy from UP NORTH.

  3. Carla H. says

    It has been a hard week. A friend and I are doing the “Unglued” study and am gaining so many insights and a plan! It’s been a hard week in our lives and our business so this blog message is indeed timely. Thank you!
    With blessings-
    PS- By all means- go get some new luggage and stop weighing yourself down with the old! 😉

  4. Julie says

    Lysa….you cannot know how your words truly brought sun into my world from today’s devotion about running away. I am 43 years old, have survived 6 yrs out from breast cancer, have a 7 year old daughter, 2 brand spanking new puppies and another 41 year old child (my husband) :-). I tell you all of this because I just told my mom yesterday that I wished I could get in the car and just drive. I am completely blessed to have all of these people in my life but recently my husband and I are having problems and my anxiety levels are through the roof. Your message really spoke to me in that I need to find my outlet and de-stress so that I remember these blessings. For without all of them, I know I would be miserable. God truly speaks through you to all that read your works….He is truly all that we need!! God bless you!

  5. Angela says

    Dear Lysa, Oh My Goodness, your Encouragement for Today, had me in tears in minutes of starting to read it! I can SOOOOOO relate to everything you said, well, except the part about having 2 babies within 16 months of each other! I too, have felt “stuck” & still have to work on that! I still read the daily prayers at the back of Beth Moore’s, “Get out of that Pit” book & find that everyday, they still speak to me! I still love to fly “above the clouds” on a cloudy & perhaps rainy day. Feel so much better in the “light” above the clouds….almost like I am closer to Heaven! On my first flight ever, I journalled that same thing – and that was years ago, but remember it still, today! And Lysa, when you fly with an airline and your luggage is damaged, just take it to that airline when you land & they will have it repaired at no cost to you! This I know, as I dub myself, as “Ye Ole Bag Lady” for a major airline, here in Canada. My job is dealing with passengers with delayed or damaged luggage all of the time – believe me, when I say this – I know all too well, about God’s Grace & Mercy, doing that job – for sure!
    Lysa, thank you for speaking to me, directly, this morning. I hope & pray that you will feel the love & support of another Christian Sister, who has felt the same as you!
    With love, from one who’s been there, too! Angela

  6. says

    Thank you, I was so inspired that I made a photo of a quote from today to help me to ” Lift your eyes to an altitude that can rearrange your attitude.” I love that!! Put it on my blog 🙂 thank you so much!!

  7. says

    When I saw the name of the devotional today, I knew it was written for me. While I understand that the present struggles I have are for a season, my problem with this season having an end is that I am currently caring for both elderly parents and when I no longer have to do that, they will both have passed, most likely. So it is hard to look ahead for the end of this season, when it could likely have a sad ending to it. I know they will go to heaven but they will still be missed. Thank you for your words of encouragement today, they very much echo my heart.

  8. Angela Smith says

    Oh, Lysa. . .it is like you speak my mind! This is EXACTLY where I have been this week. I always tease my husband about being “all or nothing” but when I get overwhelmed, I want to quit EVERYTHING. But I, too, know this wouldn’t work. Thanks so much for reminding me of this perspective! AND I hope you have found some good luggage with sturdy wheels! PS. You will never know how MUUUUUUUCH your life, your speaking (I find your speaking on webinars & podcasts as often as I can) and your writing BLESSSS my life. And as a Pastor’s Wife / Women’s Ministry Director, I get to share your ‘wonderfulness’ to all the women in my church! Again , THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO & God Bless you tremendously!!

  9. Arleen Fisher says

    This the very first time I have ever left a comment. You have blessed my day. When I read “I Want To Run”, I realized I am in the same place.I feel like the season I am in will last forever. My husband has been out of work for a year this Nov.11. During this year he had a quad bi-pass, then a heart attack. He suffered through a laryngeal nerve paralysis which seems to be resolving. Unemployment benifits have run out and it is only
    me working. I know God promises to provide, but I still feel anxious. Each day I praise God for what I have, my job, health, and family, my husband is still with me. And knowing all this in my heart , I still try to find ways to fix this situation. Maybe we should find a cheaper house, or move with my daughter…these are some of my thoughts. None of these ideas are an instant fix. I have to just sit in this season and really trust God for everthing, and ask Him to give me peace and the ability to be still and know that He is God.

  10. Lisa V. says

    Wooo! If God ain’t giving me a message through yours! I’m just “feeling” like this pace on a runaway train is my new norm. Yet deep inside I know it’s not. And I absolutely “feel” like I’m just not doing well with anything. But HE is calling to me, saying come rest with me. Stop. Rest. Breathe. What makes us so addicted sometimes to this frantic pace? It can be different, I just need to … stop but for a moment… every day with HIM.

  11. says

    Oh how I needed to read this – for the past couple of days, I have found myself being rather irritable, don’t know why – just have been – I realize that reading what Lysa wrote about the clouds and that is not the only thing that is out there really helps me to change my perspective. I know that my worse frame of mind, might just be a blessing to someone who is really struggling @ this very moment. I do know what Lysa is talking about and being able to see the sunshine above the clouds, this is exactly what I experienced on my way Boston over a month ago – that is when I saw (2) rainbows and I felt like they were there for me alone to see – I can’t imagine Lysa ever writing anything that is not helpful or inpsirational to this little soul – thanks so much and keep the thoughts and uplifting inspirations coming – mega blessings to you!

  12. folake odebode says

    Thank you lysa this is GOD sent cos am living in dat gray and feeling helpless too. Thank you for lifting mmy sprit and encouragin me not to give up. Felt GOD hug me this morning. Thank you.

  13. Tia says

    Thank You so much! I really needed this. Please continue to write, minister and speak to us. You encourage and empower me so much!!! Thanks Again

  14. Kim says

    Gods timing is so perfect. It’s no coincidence I read this devotional a day late. It’s what I like to say “A God Wink”. I started my own companionship & care company for the elderly in the spring. Getting tired of working for others & seeing how it was all about how much $ these companies could make for themselves, I ventured out on my own. God has given me a HEART to feel compassion for the elderly & be a friend. Yes I get paid @ the end of the week but its not so much the in-hand pay its the “in heart” rewards I come away with. I get rich in my spirit with Love, that comes from God.
    On Nov 1st I was battling with a spiritual warfare of “you are not good enough, or equipped properly. I tried to avoid these thoughts & even other comments I’d been hearing thru the gossip. It just wasn’t good enough..nor was I. Feeling beaten I sank into a depressed state & seriously considered “giving up” or running away from what I felt god had called me to do.
    I’m currently on chapter 6 of unglued & admit I was falling into the trap of poor me. I needed to recapture my “soul integrity”. Thanks to our amazing god & the perfect timing of this devotion I will not run away…I have a purpose. God has a plan & can see the bigger picture here. Lysa you help us as women of god to remember we are normal & can overcome our “unglued” moments. I look fwd to focusing more on that power verse. Thanks for your gifting & using it to grow more women of God stronger. Blessings Kim from Canada

  15. jen says

    Thank you Jesus for leading me here!! I started a new job several weeks ago and have never felt so overpowered in my life. I have been a total emotional wreck, to the point where I’m wanting to run away and quit although I believe it is where God wants me to be. After reading the devotional, I purchased Unglued. I don’t think there’s been a page I’ve read so far that did not speak directly to me. God Bless You Lysa!!

  16. Sharon says

    Oh my gosh! You spoke straight to me today. I’ve had this day now for the past 3 days. Thank you for being so honest with your thoughts Lysa. You have no idea how you have encouraged me today. I like what you said “just because I feel it – doesn’t make it real”. I need to get my mind up out of the clouds and get my vision looking higher than at ground-level. Thanks again.

  17. Sharron says

    Thank you Lysa for your honesty and transparency. I have had this day for the past 4 months. I was allowing it to overpower me to the point of defeat. Thank you for reminding me that “feeling it doesn’t make it real” and thank you for pointing me back towards the “Son”, who can really make a difference in the way I “feel”. Thank you for your ministry, may God bless you richly in all you do.

  18. Christen says

    Great job on the Today show!! I was so excited to see you and glad to hear your book “Unglued” being put out there. I know many women in my life who need to read this book (Christmas gifts!!). I thought your hair looked fabulous 🙂 and you were gracious and insightful not only to the viewers, but to the other panelists! I pray many women will grab your book this week! Yay God!

  19. Janet L. says

    Thank you for the much needed reminder that, just like “babies” is a season, so will “teenagers” be! Have a blessed day.

  20. says

    I loved this the first time you posted and needed it today!! Thank you for sharing your heart! Exciting to see what God is doing with the Today Show…praying for your opportunity tomorrow. Also wanted to let you know I wrote you a little letter on my blog – http://titus24u.blogspot.com/2012/11/a-letter-to-friendand-give-away.html

    It was so good to see you and hear from you again last weekend at Pella! Thanks for coming back to Iowa!!!

  21. Anna says

    Thank you for this… I find I forget to breathe at times. I am getting out my journal, favourite pencil, and asking God to help me think today. God bless dear sister.

  22. Anna says

    Oh by the way, Swiss army make awesome suitcases. I have “borrowed my son Kyle’s set for my trips to Kenya and they handle the airports in fine form 🙂

  23. Nicole Jesse says

    Hi Lysa,
    How did you get started writing and speaking? I feel very lead to this ministry and am looking to see how to get started. Thank you for being such and inspiration!

  24. Courtney says

    Hi Lysa – I couldnt find anywhere to post this other than comments… but I am hoping you may get this and might have some sage words of advice… (I love your blog btw,…. so uplifting!)

    Anyways… I have just recently left one job for another – a DEFINITE upgrade. I was not able to give my boss the 2 weeks that he had wanted… and I know it irritated him. However, I am the breadwinner in the family and when an opportunity arose that matches my exact prayers…I jumped on it and I couldnt be happier with what God blessed my family with.

    The problem I am having is that my previous boss holds a very high position in my church. Because of this I dont see him at church much since he travels. Throughout the duration of me working for him, he slowly chipped away at the respect I had for him through either being very condescending, patronizing and hypocritical, among other things.. (nothing heinous I assure) So my opinion of him wasn’t awesome, but I forgave those times because I’m not perfect either and I figured since he was so high in our church that he was Godly enough to be able to recognize some of his faults and maybe self-reconcile his actions toward others. Now that I am in a different job, I have heard from some of my old co-workers/friends that he basically has nothing good to say about me and will find any opportunity to speak ill of me. I wont lie – it does grind on my nerves that he would be unprofessional about it…

    My problem that I am having is that I am associating that anger/irritation/resentment that I hold towards him with my church and going to church. The only thing I can think of as to why is that since he was such a higher up that I held him on a pedestal and thought that there would be more of a :”saint” than a sinner. I had really high expectations of him because everyone in my church regards the leaders of the church in a very loving, pastoral and wise way. He kind of in a way shattered my idea about this church perfection I had envisioned. I know in my heart that going to church is to be in communion with my God and Savior for me and my family. But my head keeps arguing with me that going to the same church as him makes me uncomfortable like I am being looked down on but I also get slightly repulsed. He spoke at a one of our recent conferences and I didnt even hear the message! All I could think about was “why are you up there saying those holy words and talking about such subjects when I know the second you get back to Monday none of what you just supposedly taught us will apply to you?”

    I dont know how to process this. I know I am a sinner too.. I am not perfect and I really try to not be a hyppocrite. But I feel helpless. The harder part is that everyone else thinks the absolute world of him.. granted they have never worked for him… if you have any sage words of advice or a scripture passage that might help I would so so so appreciate it. I really want to let this go…

    Thank you for all you do in your ministry and for hearing me out. Your blog has become a wonderful resource for my life and has helped me on many occasions.

    Thank you and God Bless,


  25. Sandy says

    Somehow, I missed reading this article on 3 October. Must have been because God wanted me to read it today when I really needed the message!

  26. says

    Ha! I hear ya! I’m trying to get my blog going, manage my five kids, write our story, teach piano, disciple tween girls, etc. I just blogged about where being Type A has gotten me in the past… now I just need to apply what I say I’ve learned. Praying to be more like Mary, less like Martha!

  27. Jennie Sizemore says

    Moments ago I finished reading your beautiful book, Unglued. My mom and my sister and I have been reading the book at our own paces and following along with Melissa’s bible study. I can’t wait for the three of us to get together to share what we’ve learned. Thank you, Lysa, for allowing God to speak through you by sharing some very personal experiences and thoughts. I related to many of them as I’m sure so many women have. I think my hot pink highlighter is tired from working so hard as I drew lines and circles and arrows all over my book! And the laughter and tears as I turned each wonderful page…wow, did I need this book! Thank you again – you have an amazing gift of writing. What a blessing it is to so many.

  28. says

    Today I sat in my living room, in the rare quiet of my home and devoured your latest book, Unglued! My husband took my boys for the weekend to his parents, after we fought all day Friday, what would have been our baby girls 7month birthday. I am an unglued wreck of a woman right now, gasping for air and grace. I found it in the pages of your book in the bible verses and the truth. Thank you.

  29. Teresa Bowen says

    Wow! I’m behind, but that was just in time! Thank you Lysa, for having an open heart and willing to share!

  30. Rita says

    Lysa, if only I had your attitude all the time. I have been spiraling downward for a very long time. I’ve been getting overwhelmed by my filthy house and don’t know what to do first, so I just don’t do anything at all. I’m working with some friends to help me set up little goals, like clean off the dining room table. That’s doable in an hour or two; yet I come home from work and sit and get on the computer and play games, all while the dining room table is looming behind me.

    Recently, I went on a mission trip to Romania to help out with the National Bible Reading Campaign a missionary has started there. The background of most folks there is Russian Orthodox. I only wish that everyone could go on at least one mission trip to an undeveloped nation to see how truly blessed we are in America.

  31. Jennifer Shaw says

    Thank you for sharing the word and helping all of us find our way in this journey we call life. Your books along with a few others are on my Christmas list!~ I along with others need help and your words of encouragement seem to give me the boost to keep looking upward when I used to always find the negative! Thank you for sharing!

  32. Carina Capps says

    I am so glad to have found Lysa’s blog. It seems she always has just the right words at the right time (God breezes, I’m sure). I would love to read a book by her pastor, thanks for sharing the opportunity!

  33. Christina says

    Totally know what you mean about moving to a ranch and growing your own food to escape from the craziness that is the sin-filled world we live in. But also realize how we deal with the world is reflective of our hearts and who sits on the throne of our hearts. We can’t escape from ourselves! More of Him and less of us is the only way to go!