Am I so busy, trying too hard to do everything, that I don’t leave any space for God to do something?
“The story of redemption and healing is that Jesus came to exchange my not-good-enough with His better-than-I-could-ever-imagine. He came to trade my life for His, my weak for His strong, my ashes for His beauty. He longs for each of us to receive the gift of Himself.”
-Emily Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl, p.137
I recently got my lowest-yet grade on an essay. I couldn’t imagine what I’d done wrong. My tutor said I’d earned a good grade. It was hard to believe. I felt that I’d failed and, in spite of what my tutor said, my work wasn’t good enough. I asked God what I’d done wrong. I felt that I, personally, wasn’t good enough. And then it hit me and I asked, “Am I trying too hard?”
I’ve always tried…hard and harder and just a little bit harder. I don’t know why you try too hard. Why do I try too hard? Maybe it has something to do with being born first and born responsible. Maybe it has something to do with my talent for comparing myself with others and always-but-always finding myself wanting.
Or maybe it has something to do with my tendency to fear.
What if I let God down by not being busy while I’m single and free to devote my energy and enthusiasm to the things of God? What if I let my family down by not being the perfect daughter and sister? What if I let my friends down by not being the perfect friend? What if I ever fail to obey this command? You probably know it too: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” (Colossians 3:23)
I tell myself that something that’s done for God, of course, must be perfect. (Although a better understanding is that everything we do can be done for God.) And so I’m exhausted. Partly because I’m too busy. Partly because I feel that whatever I do, it’s never enough, I’m never enough. I get stuck in a cycle of trying and failing to meet my own standards of perfection. Gradually I get stuck in a bigger cycle of exhaustion and guilt. Life loses its wonder when I’m trying too hard. I’m saved by grace, but am I living by grace too? ”For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
Grace is the free and unmerited favour of God. It’s free — it’s a gift from God. It’s unmerited, it’s not something we deserve or earn. We accept the grace of salvation. Can we accept the grace to be still? To be quiet? To cease striving and rest in the reality that God is God? To stop worrying because He can keep the world turning without our help? To rest in the reality that, when He calls us to do something for Him, He can work with our imperfect efforts? ”And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
Can we learn to make room for His grace in the midst of our busy, trying-too-hard lives and not make it another thing on our lists of things we don’t do perfectly?
“We don’t need to do everything we can think of to do. That would be called “works.” We only need to say “yes” to what God asks of us, which is often far less than we imagine.
We do what we can and then we rest in grace.
This is the way we’re meant to live.”
-Holley Gerth, “How Do You Know When You’ve Done Enough?“