Let me preface this post by saying that we never fully "arrive" (master, grasp, understand) anything this side of Heaven. Until the day we die, we are a work in progress.
With that being said, I will confess that I have come a long way from being the girl who was constantly striving. Striving to do as much as I could possibly do perfectly in order to earn or win love and approval. Whose love and approval? God's, my dad's, others, etc. I was the ultimate of people pleasers and still, to this day, struggle with trying to make everyone happy (which by the way is not my job - or yours either).
Usually I save the punch line for last...but in case you get bored, I want to be sure that you get this piece of what I have learned. It's only taken me 53 years to get this far:
Freedom comes through Christ's righteousness ALONE. When His righteousness becomes ours, we are set free from striving. His Spirit frees us from the law of sin and guilt.
Please read that again...or several times if you have to until it really sinks in.
I would like to explore what I call the 3 "E's" of Striving:
Expectations: I used to have the Energizer Bunny mentality that doing more was better. It was important what the world thought of me and the world measures worth in terms of accomplishments. God had/has a different message. You don't have to do...just BE! Expectations breed perfectionism and get this - there is no way you can be perfect on your own, in your own power. God is the only author and perfector of me and my faith...period.
"You are not called to live up to your potential - to do as much as you can, as quickly as you can, for as many as you can. (Hint - potential is just a code word for other people's expectations). You, my friend, are simply called to say "Yes" to God." (Holley Gerth)
It was in a very low period in my life - when I was far from perfect - that Christ drew me unto Himself and let me know that He simply wanted to be in an intimate relationship with me (just me as I was - broken). I realized the goal was not perfection...it was Him!
Long story, short: Can the expectations.
Earn (the 2nd "E"): I'll let you in on a little secret...you can't earn love or grace. Sure you can try (just like I did) but it just doesn't work that way. This brings us back to that "freedom" concept. Only in Him do we find true freedom - not in any "works" we seek to accomplish.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2: 8-9)
God alone gives you love and grace. You can't earn it. It's a gift. You receive it.
"The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us." (C.S. Lewis)
I love C.S. Lewis. He has a way of turning the world's logic on its head lol.
Even if we try to strive and earn God's love and grace, our very best offerings are like filthy rags in God's sight. Not that works are not good...it's just that they will not earn you love or salvation. Only God's grace can do that.
"And all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..." (Isaiah 64:6)
Enough (the 3rd "E"): Try this sentence on for size. "I embrace who I am; I don't have to strive; Through Christ I am enough; God loves me simply for being _______________(fill in your name)".
When Christ died on the cross, He said, "It is finished". Translation: There is nothing more you can or need to do. Knowing this truth and continuing to strive to earn something is really a pride thing when you get right down to it. I was, in essence, saying to Christ - what you did was nice and all, but there's still something more that I have to or can do. Your sacrifice wasn't enough. I = PRIDE...Christ = GRACE.
If you walk away with one truth I pray that it would be this: God does not love you any more or any less depending on what you do. He loves you because He is Love. He cannot deny Himself.
"Indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:39)
I hope that I have not come across at too preachy. If there is one thing I have been sort of able to wrap my little pea brain around is that I do not have to be constantly striving. I am doing okay. In knowing this, it brings tremendous freedom and freedom is the sweet spot in which God would have me live!
"You can give up the need to compete in the world - when you accept being complete in Christ." (Ann Voskamp)
Are you striving and want to get off the treadmill? How have you accepted that you are okay as you are? How are you a work in progress? I invite you to share your successes and your struggles that we all may be encouraged.
Know you are loved...
In His love,
ps. MEMORIAL WEEKEND PS.: I will be taking this week off due to surgery. Prayers are always welcome. I hope you'll find a post you may have missed in the archives. Let us give thanks to the great men and women who have served and who are serving that we might have our freedom. A special thanks to military spouses who hold down the fort back at home. Be blessed...B