Years ago I attended a larger church. We had moved to our new town and a neighbor asked us if we had found a home for our Sunday worship. That was his clever way of discovering whether we followed Jesus. He sent us to check out the church where he had grown up. The pastor preached right through the bible verse by verse. We made that church home after the first few visits. In my personal walk with God those days, I was busy. We had a foster daughter, and an infant son. I ended up working in several church ministries. I also volunteered in the community, and held a job. Whew.
In hidden recesses of my heart I held the belief that my work and performance earned me bonus points with God. If God’s grace were a swimming pool, I was gingerly dipping my toe into the shallow end instead of doing a cannonball off the high dive. I could tell you all about grace, but I didn’t have a clue how to live in it.
I had attended lectures and classes led by Dallas Willard for years. He used to have this saying, “the Christian burns up grace like a jet burns up fuel.” I heard it hundreds of times, but never really got the gist of what it meant. I mean, yes, we live by grace, whatever that looks like. I didn’t have time to figure it out fully. Instead I went on burning something up like rocket fuel, but I wasn’t sure it was grace. I was dog-tired, often inwardly disillusioned, and distant from the God I claimed to serve.
I did all the things, and I did them well.
Kudos for the Overachiever
People asked me “How do you do it all?” and I would feign a bit of humility, while secretly basking in the fact that they noticed my super-girl powers. I figured somehow, if they thought I was amazing, they would want to be around me more. Fear of rejection kept me going, going, going. I didn’t even realize I was busy proving my own worth – to them, and to myself – through a habit of the heart God calls striving.
An Invitation to Cease Striving
Be still and know I am God, He says. That word, “Be still” is one word, Raphah in Hebrew. It gives a picture of someone desisting, or giving up, letting go, ending their striving, and surrendering. God isn’t just telling us to pull up a chair here. He isn’t saying to sit, like a child in time out, or a nun at vespers. God, our loving Father, invites us to drop the rope. Stop tugging; quit trying to make it all happen; give up exerting to make others see you or to make life go your way. Just drop it all and fall into Him. Know He is God. He is the beginning, the end, and everything inbetween.
What’s Driving Our Busyness?
For us worker-bee, achiever girls, this can be a harder pill to swallow than you might think. Are we weary? You bet. Do we long for some genuine rest? There aren’t enough pillows in the world to answer yes to that question. But, we keep on keeping on because the fear of not being seen, or the fear of not being known eats us up in deep places. I’m not pointing fingers at you. I’m sharing the hard truths I’ve learned and walked through. These are the places in my heart that tempt to rear up again when I feel vulnerable or lonely. The anecdote always seems to come in the answer of performance.
Our world of posting and liking, following and filming, doesn’t help us out in this much. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good Instagram feed as much as the next girl. I enjoy connecting with people on Facebook, and it tickles me to know that someone watched one of my YouTube videos on motherhood. All that’s good and fun, like a nice game of Monopoly Deal, or an afternoon drinking lavender mocha with my bestie at our local coffee shop. All good. But, when my soul is empty and aching, all that flips in an invisible moment and the likes become way more important, and whether you read this post or not starts to seem like a number on a scale telling me whether I matter as much as the next person. That’s what can happen. And, if we aren’t careful we fall into a frenzy of flurried activity to help ourselves catch up with something that fills our void. Yet it never really does.
Leaning Into Grace
It’s on those days, before that oh-so-special time of the month (ugh), or when my heart is hurting from an especially challenging situation in motherhood, or when all my friends seem to be busy and forgetting about me, that I have to step back and watch myself. It’s then I burn up grace. I lean into it. I swallow it deep. Because grace isn’t just the stuff that saved me. It’s what I live on. The knowledge that God does it all, that He holds it all – including me, and my children, and all that is precious – that’s what fills me to overflowing. If I get busy, I miss the grace. Proverbs 3 tells me, lean not on your own understanding. Lean not on my own anything. That’s more like it.
A friend told me this weekend, “Put your head in the lap of Jesus, and stay there.” That’s grace: Knowing I don’t hold the universe together. Heck, I can’t even find my glasses and my car keys in the same five minutes some mornings. I am being held. And you are too. The God who fashioned your children in your womb (or in someone else’s and then brought them to you) has a very hugely vested interest in the outcomes of their lives. And what He says to you and to me is to come to Him when we are weary and heavy laden (even when it is by our own hands that we fashioned a heavy yoke) and learn from Him. He reminds us He is gentle and humble in spirit. He invites us to walk with Him in the easy way and promises we will find rest for our souls as we do.
If that’s not grace, I don’t know what is.
If you want to dive into more practical support about living with intention, my book, Slow Down, Mama: Intentional Living in a Hurried World is available on Amazon. In it, I share my story of going from crazy-busy to purposeful. I help you identify what keeps you busy, and then we go through learning life-giving habits you can apply to make real change that lasts.