It seems like in today’s society we wear our busyness like a badge of honor. We take pride in how many things we’re involved in and brag about our accomplishments – grasping at identity, assurance and validation from every check mark on our never-ending, self-imposed to-do list.
Work harder. Try harder. Do more. Do better. These are the mantras that plague our minds, constantly reminding us we are inadequate, unaccomplished and unsuccessful.
And it’s not like the church is exempt from these attitudes of the heart. In fact, I joined Youth With a Mission (YWAM) because of my desire to “do big things for God.” And while I don’t believe that that desire is in and of itself evil, I do believe it can be very manipulative.
The truth is God’s already done EVERYTHING that ever needs to be done. He said it Himself on the cross when He declared, “It is finished.” So why are so many of us striving – exhausting ourselves in an attempt to convince others, and ourselves, of our right standing with God?
My YWAM story doesn’t look like how I pictured it, but I love it more and more as each chapter unfolds.
Has it been an adventure? Absolutely. A glorious adventure of learning to trust God more and more and each day, surrendering to Him every broken and dry place in my heart and allowing the healing power of His unending grace and steadfast love to transform my life from the inside out.
But not what I expected. See, I wanted the glamour. I wanted to feed all the homeless, save all the lost, heal all the wounded. I wanted to prove to those that questioned me that I was “on the right path.” I wanted to show those who supported me that they made a “good investment.”
The problem was that I had my inner-check-list so filled to the brim with my own accomplishments, I left no room for the Lord. What about what He wanted to do in my heart?
Oh, how I’ve learned that He cares so much more about the state of our hearts than the state of our agendas.
So what has been “accomplished” on this outreach?
Well, cancelled plans, snow days (Welcome to Detroit, right?) and more REST than I ever knew I needed.
Rest that’s enabled me to sit. Be still. Breathe.
I recently told a friend who confessed struggling to receive from a sermon that perhaps it was because she hadn’t yet digested what she last ate and wasn’t ready for her next meal.
I realized as soon as I hit the arrow to send the text that Holy Spirit was speaking directly to me.
I’ve always lived my life, particularly my twenties, so eager to figure out where I’m going that I’ve taken little time to fully embrace where I am.
A couple of days later, another friend sent me this sermon, in which the pastor addresses this very issue. Don’t you just love how God is always right on time with giving us what we need to hear when we need to hear it? Anyway, the pastor suggests that in John 6 when Jesus references “eating His flesh and drinking His blood” that He is addressing the nature of humanity to want to rush, looking ahead to the next meal, instead of sitting, resting and taking the time to digest what’s already been set before us.
As I meditated on that, I discovered the inclination of my mind to drift to the “what next?” What next after Discipleship Training School? What next when I return home to Texas? What next will I throw myself into in an attempt to validate my purpose and existence?
So I nestled into this sweet invitation from the Lord to slow down, take time and be present in His presence – the invitation to simply be here, now.
If my to-do list holds no vacancies for the Lord to move, I’m doing too much. And if the focus of my heart is on my agenda rather than my availability before the Lord, then I’ve lost my sight. These are the meditations of my heart in this season.
And can I just say it feels so freakin’ good to just breathe?
P.S. So I’m pretty into personality types, particularly Myers-Briggs (I’m an ENFJ, in case you’re wondering), but I’ve also begun to gain interest in the Enneagram. Now, the Enneagram is much more about heart motivations than personality typology, but I’ve loved discovering how my heart motivations influence the expression of my personality. I’m a 2w3, which provides one layer of explanation as to why the desire to achieve has been such a stronghold in my life. I encourage you to listen to this song, “Three”, written by Sleeping at Last as part of their series on each of the Enneagram types, as well as the rest of the songs in the series, and see which one really tugs at your heart strings. I personally believe that the more you learn about yourself and who the Lord created you to be, the more you discover how to embrace and love yourself, messy parts included, enabling you to truly love those around you.
Jesus was asked “Which is most important of all the commandments?” to which he replied, “The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy. And here is the second: Love others as well as you love yourself.” Paraphrased from Mark 12: 29-31, The Message