(Day 24) Stop Striving to Be More
There’s a war constantly raging back and forth against my heart. The vacillations of my heart wars between a state of stress or rest–for things I feel I have to do or be or accomplish.
Because if you don’t know, I am a creative, a doer, a get-it-done kind of go-getter. I’m a visionary, a dreamer, an over-achiever. I have a deep desire to bring creative things to fruition according to my passion and purpose–to bring love and hope to others (family, friends, children) in whatever way, shape or form it takes me.
With this said, I am also a faith believer. And because I’m a believer, this drive and vision within me shifts me to either self-focused pursuits or God-focused pursuits. It’s required me to beat to a different drum than solely my own. But it’s not always easy to figure out if I’m staying with God’s drum for me or my own selfish drum.
However, when I’m in a place of strive, usually (for me) it means I’m working in a place of struggle for self-driven pursuits. It usually creates internal stress in me and emptiness when I go to perform my roles, because I tend to lean on my own strength and desires during this state instead of God’s.
Of course, there’s a certain amount of activity necessary to get anything accomplished in life: having success in parenting, ensuring the family is fed on a regular basis, balancing between creative energies and being present with family, volunteer work or serving outside the home bringing value personally as well as to others, investing in a marriage relationship, increasing in our careers so we can provide well for our family and bless others… There are so many different shapes and forms of where we spend our time and energy into.
The part that can get a bit sticky or difficult to see is whether or not we are creating more stress internally (or even externally) for ourselves because of our own self-driven strive. Are the things you’re doing causing stress in your life, and if so, are they really necessary? Are you pursuing things for your own self-worth or does it serve some sort of higher purpose? Are you stressed because you have an internal level of achievement you must attain to feel significant, worthy, or used by God in some way?
Guess what? God does not call us to become ragged, beat down, stressed out and overwhelmed believers in our callings: to mother, create, do, love, extend and expend ourselves into others till we run away and hide from the stress from it all. Yes there will be challenges. Yes I believe we learn so much through various struggles. But ask yourself a couple questions:
- Is what I’m pursuing something I would pursue if money were not the focus?
- Is what I’m pursuing something I would pursue if the title was not available?
- Is what I’m pursuing of value to me and to others?
- Is what I’m pursuing causing my family relationships to suffer or thrive?
- Is there a balance between how much time I am expending my energies on all the different buckets of life (family, marriage, friendships, ministry/work, hobbies, etc)
- Do I need to pull back or should I push forward right now during this stage of life I’m in?
There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. It’s simply a good way to ask certain questions which might trigger a response you never knew was lurking inside.
When you answer these questions, what emotions do you feel? Do you feel sad, happy, encouraged, disappointed, confused, guilty, prideful, or upset? Pay attention to your emotional tank when answering these questions and see if it warrants a positive or negative response. If negative, why? Is there perhaps changes that need to be implemented or tweaked in your life to feel less stressed, more fulfilled, or experience a less strive-centered focus so you aren’t left feeling more empty than full?
It takes courage to assess ourselves truthfully and discover if what we are seeking to accomplish and the stress wrapped around out life is due to a measure of our own self-centered strive or if there’s another factor that plays into all of it.
For example, my husband has a great job which has provided in many ways, especially for me to extend myself outside the home on a part-time basis to speak, write, and coach other women. It has afforded me the opportunity to place my children in preschool a few days per week so I can have the balance to work and still be a mom to my 3 little’s on a regular basis. Although my husband’s job is not fulfilling in certain aspects personally to him, it does provide in ways that serves a greater purpose at this time: care for our family + flexibility and ease.
Each season may look different as well. There was a season where working as a Dental Hygienist full-time had a good and distinct purpose for me. But over time, that purpose shifted and being home with my little’s was more important + made sense for the season we were in. Then the opportunity presented itself again as I worked part-time outside the home as a Dental Hygienist alongside my writing/speaking endeavors (fitting it into the nooks and crannies of my day). In the past year, it became apparent my heart wasn’t into Dental Hygiene anymore (nor was it the desired path I sensed God wanted for me) which gave way to more opportunities for me to write, speak and coach others while still stewarding my children from home. It’s a difficult balance between motherhood + marriage + ministry, however it has felt right us right now and that’s all that matters.
On a personal note, being a writer, speaker and coach can make it very easy these days to fall into a path of self-driven strive. It’s why I take honest self-assessments regularly to ensure the path I’m following and pursuing is not causing undue stress in my life because of a place of self-driven strive.
When I cut out the strive to gain more followers or a bigger platform to up my speaking + writing ventures, I’m at more peace and feel carefree as I remember God is completely in control of this path. My pursuits are not merited by how many people I encourage or inspire, it is about how many people God wants me to touch and inspire, leaving it up to Him to do His work through me. The strive diminishes. The assurance of my calling is complete regardless of my actions or what happens. I can rest in knowing that I don’t have to be anything more in order to accomplish the things He’s planned out for me. As long as I love and follow Him, I will not miss out on anything or be behind in anything… because if those things don’t come to pass, it was never meant to be in the first place.
So where is your heart? Where is your strive? Self-centered or God-centered? Take off the stress by releasing the strive to be more. Because you are already enough.