I am convinced that we as a society put too much pressure on ourselves and each other. There are unspoken rules surrounding expectations, with hidden pressures waiting to pounce as soon as your guard is lowered. Sometimes those expectations come from others, but more often I have found that the expectations I place on myself are the ones leaving me discouraged.
I want to have it all together. I want to do well at work and have meaningful relationships with friends and family. Being active in church, exercising, eating well and sleeping enough are also high on my priority list. I want to have a daily quiet time with God, where I get to meet Him and pour out my heart, while listening for His voice. Sometime, I want to get better at this writing thing and actually blog regularly. There’s also a book I’ve been writing, but haven’t made progress in weeks, maybe months.
Striving is where you often find me. Pushing. Tackling. Aiming. Working. Wanting. and. Struggling. With the strive is the struggle. And, honestly, I hate it.
I can’t stand the way I constantly try to fix things – to fix myself. To fix the people I love because I think I’ll be happier that way. It’s pretty selfish, I know.
The past couple of months, maybe longer (I’m really not sure how long) I have been dealing with some health issues that I didn’t realize were present until recently. I kept thinking there was just something wrong with me that was my fault, like I had failed to eat healthy enough or get enough sleep. I kept trying to control the emotions the health issues caused and was constantly angry with myself for not being able to keep it together.
I’ve realized that I put too much unnecessary pressure on myself and I cannot live that way anymore.
I am currently in a place where I’m not okay… but it’s fine. It’s actually an okay thing to not be okay right now.
There’s a big part of me that wants to research and make lists and “get my life in order.” However, there’s another part that knows I just need to rest. Right now, I am a little weaker than normal. I could benefit from ceasing the striving and letting myself live – walking step by step, trusting that God is good and all will be well.
The other day, I was panicking a little to keep up with everything on my plate because I was at a place of sheer exhaustion. I had some work-related meetings that made me nervous because I was afraid I wasn’t going to be “on.” My boyfriend Jonathan so lovingly pulled me back to reality when he asked, “Who do you need to impress?” That question stopped me in my tracks. The answer was nobody. Yes, I want to do well at work, but I didn’t have anything I needed to prove in this particular circumstance.
I think I need to remember that question as I keep walking through life.
There are times when performance matters. The outcome of one’s work determines the next job they may be offered or the way they’ll be able to live in the future. It’s a good testimony to work hard, but our actions and doing – the striving – should not be what defines us.
I can get caught up in feeling like what I do is a value of my worth. It’s not.
I’m remembering Psalm 139:13-14 right now…
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
God created me and not only that, but He loves me. [& in case you didn’t know this: The same is true for you.] He created me with purpose, knowing the mistakes I would make, knowing that ways I would disappoint, knowing that I’d have this problem with striving… but He loves me and calls me His daughter even in spite of my personal failings.
What I love about the Gospel is that God offers hope in the form of His Son Jesus. He offers Jesus to us as a sacrifice for our sins not because of what we have done to prove ourselves but because of who He is. God is love. Out of that love, he forgives our sins. We place our trust in Christ and we are washed clean. We are redeemed when we take hold of the love that God poured out to us through Jesus. And it’s not because of anything we could ever do to earn that redemption! How amazing!
1 John 4:9-10 ~ This is who God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
So, I sit here today remembering that I don’t need to strive. While I am not personally okay right now, things will be okay because my hope is in something far greater than this world. I can rest in and walk in truth that, (in the words of Pastor Wood), “God loves me, and it’s going to be okay.”
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Emily Lofgren’s heart beats for authenticity. She craves true connection where we can be real about our struggles and find hope together. Emily became a Christian in college and since then has had a passion for writing in a way that helps others encounter life. Grab your free copy of her eBook Finding Hope Through the Fog.