• faith in action

    From Perfectionism to True Rest- Amie’s Story

    Happy Friday, friends! This week’s story echoes what I’ve heard from so many friends and women in my life. It is hard to give up control from the desires, dreams, plans, and courses of action we map out. So, what does it look like to peel away the layers of perfectionism and surrender that control to God? Amie does a beautiful job of showing us. Thanks for kicking off 2019 Freedom Stories with an honest and beautiful piece, Amie!

    Here is Amie’s Freedom Story. 

    – – –

    I silently stared out the window at the barren fields and cloudy skies, as we drove the five hour trip back home after a whirlwind trip to visit family for the holidays. The kids had their headphones on and were listening to a story CD, and my husband, Josh, was zoned in on the drive; I welcomed the quiet and temporary solitude free from distractions. As I watched the gray storm clouds rolling by, I couldn’t help but parallel the bleak skyline to the past year’s disappointments. It seemed as though, despite my best efforts, things just hadn’t gone at all according to plan.

    My mind wandered to 2017, which had ended rather disastrously as I’d stretched myself too thin and ended the year with a panic attack, due to over-commitment and my desire for control and perfection in nearly every aspect of my life. This forced me to stop and re-evaluate my priorities. I remembered choosing the words “purpose” and “present” to define 2018, believing that a schedule and well-thought-out plan would cure the anxiety and stress I’d been unable to shake. I told myself that if I just had a clear-cut purpose and plan instead of aimlessly saying yes to everything, things would get better.

    Instead of finding my purpose, however, God began to peel back the layers of my striving to reveal imperfections, weaknesses, and failures. I fought for control, for this perfect ideal I had in my head for what I thought God wanted. I looked at what others were doing and questioned why God didn’t create me with the ability to accomplish what they could. I kept asking myself why I seemed to have all of these limits that they didn’t and begged God to take away what I considered to be shortcomings so that I could do all of these great things for Him. I just knew I could be of more use if He’d created me without all of these struggles! My inner critic was relentless. My desire for personal perfection began to grow into a critical view of others as well, and I attempted to lay the blame for my failure on others. I told myself that if they had just behaved differently, my reaction would have been better.

    Perhaps you’ve found yourself here before: wondering why, despite your gold foil calendar and multi-colored sharpie pens, life seems to be spiraling out of control at a speed you just can’t keep up with. You’ve found fault with yourself and others, as your inner critic keeps a running list of all the mistakes that give you cause to just throw your hands up in the air in defeat.

    The GPS startled me out of my reflection as it reminded my husband that we needed to take the next exit, and it suddenly hit me: Josh wasn’t wringing his hands and wondering what the GPS was thinking, or if it was making the best decision. He was simply steering the van in the direction he was being told to go. He trusted that the GPS had the right answer.

    Perhaps that was the answer to why last year had gone so horribly, terribly wrong. I’d been more consumed with the set of directions that I had so carefully laid for myself, that I forgot to trust the One who ultimately guides my steps. I’d ignored God’s whisper to rest in Him and allow Him to lead, believing the lie that the success or failure of my kids, my ministry, and my journey lay solely in my own hands. If I wanted to stop the mad cycle of failure, guilt, and regret, I had to stop striving on my own and sacrificing people on the altar of perfection. Wanting a perfect house, a perfect life, and perfect responses to anything that life threw at me was unrealistic, but how could I come to terms with the fact that life isn’t always ordered and controlled? I desperately wanted the peace that comes from knowing that it wasn’t all up to me.

    Could it be that the secret to peace and rest simply lay in putting my trust in Jesus? I pulled out my phone and began to search for verses on peace. I found Isaiah 26:2, which says, “You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.” (CSB) Jesus has already done the work for me, laying out His perfect plan for my life, and willing to freely give me the perfect peace if I will simply trust Him. It all began to make sense. Freedom and peace could be mine if I chose to trust that He has my best interest at heart, even when life is messy and things don’t make sense!

    Now please hear me out. I know I can’t realistically live with the assumption that because God is leading that I’ll always like the direction I’m heading, but I can choose to rest in the fact that I don’t have to figure it all out on my own, control other people’s choices, or throw my hands up in defeat when things don’t go according to my plan. I continued reading and found that Isaiah 26:12 reads, “Lord, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our work for us.” (CSB) What difference would it make in my life if, instead of believing the lie that it’s all up to me, I believed the truth that every good thing that I do comes from God graciously enabling me to be part of His plan? This perspective eliminates my need to struggle through on my own, because He has become perfection for me.

    Heavenly Father, help me to trust that Your plan for my life is better than anything I could ever dream up for myself. When I feel like I’m losing control and anxiety starts to creep in, help me to find my rest in You. Thank You for the privilege of being a part of Your master plan, and for allowing me to be an imperfect vessel to be used by You for whatever you see fit, even when things don’t go according to what I think is best. May my imperfections continuously point me to You, reminding me that You became perfect in my place. Help me to choose to accept the freedom You offer from perfection by resting in the truth that You have it all under control. 

    – – –

     

    Amie is a banker’s daughter turned farmer’s wife, who loves lazy days at the beach and a good conversation with friends. If she isn’t running here, there, and everywhere, you can usually find her doing extraordinary things like cleaning out her flower beds or washing dishes. She is a recovering perfectionist who is learning to see the beauty and purpose in each ordinary day, and hopes that sharing her journey will point readers back to her heavenly Father, who can take the mundane and use it for our good and His glory. She and her husband live in the country with their two children and pet goldfish named George.

    You can follow Amie’s writing here!

     

    – – –

    P.S. Want to read more Freedom Stories? Find more stories of hope and freedom from others here. Also, special thanks to John Canelis for the picture to accompany this post (via Unsplash).

  • freedom stories

    Rescued From the Life I Wanted – Paola’s Story

    Friends, I’m so excited for you to meet Paola. She is sharing her story with us today through an interview we had this week. I love how technology can put us in touch with sisters/community from all over the world. If her words speak to you, be sure to let her know in the comments below or hop on over to her site (linked in her bio below).

    Here is Paola’s Freedom Story

    Hi Paola! I’m so grateful you’re willing to share your story with us. Before we get into it, will you tell us some of the fun stuff? Tell us about where you’re from, what you love to do, and anything else that will give us a little slice into your life!

    Several addresses and many accents along the way summarize my life. I was born in Spanish, live in French, and think in English! Born in Venezuela I was raised and educated between cultures. My formative years were spent between Europe and the US. I became a believer in college through the ministry of Inter-Varsity, and later joined a local church that became my home church for ten years. Years later I would return to Venezuela, now an adult. This makes me a TCK – short for Third Culture Kid.

    Practically a foreigner, it would prove a hard experience, and by God’s grace, a great blessing. It was there that I met and married my husband. As the political situation there worsened, we began to pray for and research legal avenues to leave. The Lord made a way and after a rigorous application process, we were approved and immigrated to Canada in 2012. We became Canadian citizens in 2015.

    It’s all harder than it sounds, less glamorous than it looks, and infinitely more blessed than I could have ever expected. When we moved to Montreal, learning to run in its majestic winter became a goal. Now, for fun, I run outside year-round in Canada!

    What a journey! And friends… Paola runs in the snow, like -20C (which is about -13F). So she’s a warrior in my mind! Paola, Galatians 5:1 is a key verse for our FREEDOM STORIES. It says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Therefore, do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” What was the old yoke you were living under? What was that slavery like for you?

    Ever since I can remember, I wanted to succeed. Both my upbringing and my education showed the ideals of the world, so I had very high expectations of myself from a young age. By the time I was in my 20’s I was hungry for achievement, that I may feel validated and important. Without realizing it, I gladly served at the altar of success. My worth was completely married to the fruits of my labour.

    What were some of the old narratives you absorbed?

    My old narratives dictated that to be someone, I needed to attain certain goals. The size of my bank account, my job title and client portfolio; it all said something about me that confirmed to me and others I was a person of value. I was hungry for achievement because I was hungry for identity.

    The core issue with narratives is to ask – is this true? According to who? There is nothing wrong with wanting a good job and salary. The issue becomes the definitions we attach to things. For me, these things became markers of approval. A full life was a life of influence and plenty. I was working with the wrong definitions.

    What was the turning point? Was there a rock bottom or a point that you realized that you couldn’t live like that any longer?

    The turning point came in the form of a severe burnout and depression. At the age of 43, I woke up one day hating my life so much I was looking for ways to quit it. Nothing will sober you up more than to realize you have the life you wanted, and its emptiness swallows you whole. None of the achievements I’d worked so hard for were giving me any of the validation and comfort I wanted. (If you want to read more about that, I’ve written about it here).

    So what happened next? What actions did you take? Did you connect with community or find new Truths that helped you find freedom?

    The moment of truth came when I finally made the decision to quit my job. It seems like such a simple and even small thing. People quit their jobs every day. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Who would I be then? After being the shadow of a person for months, tired, sleepless, and depressed, with a big gulp I timidly typed up and handed my resignation. It was the hardest and most freeing thing.

    After I quit it, I realized I wasn’t just quitting that job. I was quitting an entire way of looking at myself and others. I was quitting a pursuit of 15+ years to make a name for myself, that had turned out to be a house of cards.

    My husband coined the aftermath of my quitting rehab and detox. Indeed, over the months that followed, I relearned to be a person again. Stripped of all the things that gave me identity and security, I had to learn to walk again. Scripture became my shelter. I read and pray like never before. I had lost my way home and got to see God’s truth afresh. It was such a gift, that literally saved me from myself.

    To find myself face to face with the gospel again was the greatest respite from the relentless pursuit of so many years. Jesus’s work on the cross makes me whole. The Bible clearly states that it is by grace alone that we are saved. Our identity is safely in the hands that were pierced for my sake, that I may have communion with the Father. Losing sight of that had meant losing my lifeline. Lies spread into every crevice of my thought-life. Reconnecting to the Vine, revived my heart and made room for the Truth while exposing the lies.

    Being part of a gospel-centered church was also pivotal. To hear God’s Word preached Sunday after Sunday makes a dent. When I was lost in the idolatry of success those words became medicine when I finally understood my workaholism and idolatry.

    I love your story because I see myself (and many others) in it. You made such a bold change that required such a step of faith, and I’m so grateful to hear about the changes that brought for you. Tell me about your life of freedom. What does it look like for you now?

    Today I see my life is small and my God is big. I was so hungry for spectacular, so avid for results, I had reduced God to a small caregiver I’d summon when things got too hard to face or I didn’t have the outcome I was hoping for. Today, my life is small and simple. I don’t have a big salary for an important position at a big-name company. My days are invested being a wife, a learner, and a mentor, writing, reading, and studying. I try to live each of those roles out of the title that makes every breath possible – disciple. I am a follower of Christ.

    Do you still wrestle with those old struggles? What do you do on those days to fight for your freedom?

    Of course! The flesh is in perpetual opposition to God. There are days when I fear my life is too small to count. My calendar, once filled with meetings with big-name clients, now has writing days, and coffee dates with women I mentor. Sometimes I feel like my contribution to our household economy reflects my worth. I’m especially grateful for my husband, who is the first to bring me to the Truth.

    Today when I feel down and realize the root is a thought that is faulty in light of Scripture, I try to preach Truth to my heart instead. The feelings may linger, but I pray, confess my heart out to God, maybe share with a trusted friend or two and ask for their prayers. Don’t want to entertain what is not Truth-based. The gospel is too precious, was too costly, and is too powerful, for me to waste my time investing in things that are not aligned with it.

    Yes! Are there any key scriptures, quotes, or books that have been helpful for you on your journey into freedom?

    My story of freedom is a story of RESCUE. He rescued me from endlessly trying to build my own little kingdom of self-sufficiency. Clarity on who He is brings clarity on whose I am. God has Lordship over all things and we are utterly dependent on Him. This brings Him glory. It’s a heavenly perspective that helps me to put things in their rightful place – Jesus on the throne, my life in His hands, my heart trusting His. He’s strong, I don’t have to be. He is trustworthy.

    “Know therefore today and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above, and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” (Deuteronomy 4:39 ESV)
    “Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11 ESV)
    “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7 NIV)
    “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6 ESV)

    Those are such powerful Truths! And I love what you said about our own little kingdoms. I’ve built a few of my own over the years, and you touched on something I think a lot of people can relate to in your story. I’m so grateful you’ve found freedom. Okay, one last question, because I’m a big believer that gratitude lists help us remain present and fight our battles, tell me 3 things you’re grateful for right now. 🙂

    1. God’s Word – It’s made ALL the difference. God’s words have carried me through the painful process of ridding my heart of all previous go-to behaviours and definitions and held me tenderly in the safety and provision of His promises. I testify of His goodness and faithfulness with all my heart!
    2. God’s people – My husband and close friends who prayed me through the dark time. For new ones that bless my life and teach me the good fruits of love, gentleness, and patience.
    3. New beginnings – He is making all things new. Writing is a hard and humbling activity for me. I’m grateful for the ministry of words that I feel called to learn to steward. It keeps me utterly dependent on God.

    – – –

    Paola Barrera is a writer who desires to let the Word be the lamp unto our feet it says it is, letting it edit our narratives and words with those that matter most – God’s. She writes regularly at Words Outloud and lives with her husband Gustavo in Montreal, Canada. You can follow her on Twitter @Paola_BarreraR and Instagram @paola_m_barrera.

    – – –

    Special thanks to Richard Lee (with Unsplash) for the image of the birds in flight to accompany this post!

  • freedom,  identity,  insecurity,  rest

    You Are Enough (and the 5 things that happen when you don’t believe that…)

    “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” -Galatians 1:10 (ESV)

    The Lies:

    Picture this.

    There’s an old wooden ladder, leaned up against a tall tree. Climbing this ladder proves to be challenging– shaky, unsteady. As you look around at the other trees, you see that some others are taller, some others are wider, some have brighter fruit or bigger leaves. So you keep climbing to get as high as you can. The wind is blowing, and your ladder and the branches around you seem like they could give way at any moment. And if you’re looking around and thinking about where you are compared to everyone else, there will always be another anxious climb, even if not this tree or this ladder.

    But, what if there’s another way? Instead of climbing the ladder, can you just sit under the tree? Can you rest for a little while? With the solid ground beneath you, you run your fingers over the steady roots. You lean back, cradled in the shade of the leaves and branches above you. A bird is perched on a branch above and sings you a sweet song. You are grounded. Rooted. You are sheltered.

    Have ever struggled with any of these statements?

    • I’m too emotional.
    • I’m not outgoing enough.
    • I’m too loud; my personality is too big.
    • I’m not organized or productive enough for that job/company.
    • I’m too quiet to make an impact.
    • I’m not important enough for others to listen to.
    • I’m too broken for this church.
    • I’m not spiritual enough for that friend group.
    • I’m too quiet, shy, boring.
    • I’m not pretty enough.
    • I’m too inexperienced to succeed at this dream.

    But here’s the bigger question–who says so? Somewhere along the way, did you hear that some aspect of who you are doesn’t meet the standard of other people’s expectations? Did you absorb the message that you need to tone down your light or your level of excitement to make others comfortable? Sure, for one friend group or person, you may be “too much,” but for another relationship, those very same characteristics might seem like “not enough.” For one job or company, you may be “not creative enough,” but for another role, you might be “too outside of the box.” It’s funny… all of these too much/not enough statements are actually very subjective if you think about it.

    If we are living our lives in fear that our personalities, skill sets, and what we have to offer won’t meet the sliding scale of comfort or expectations for the culture around us, we end up living in a way that is inauthentic to who God created us to be.

    As a recovering people-pleaser, I have had to remind myself often of what God says about where I find my identity. Do I find it in the opinions of those around me? Or in HIS value in me?

    “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” – Proverbs 29:25

    “Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?” – Isaiah 2:22

    “For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” -John 12:43

    “Let no one deceive you with empty words…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” -Ephesians 5:6-10

    Here is what I’ve seen happen when we don’t believe that we are enough, just as we are:

    1. We gain false security: We become secure in things that can change at any moment. When we think we have reached the status of “secure” in the opinions of others, those views can change within moments, days, seasons. We can become puffed up with pride when we value those feelings and accolades of man higher than the view of God.
    2. We scramble: When we are constantly trying to get in the good graces of others, we end up doing things for the wrong motivation of trying to be SEEN as helpful, likeable, needed. Rather than stewarding the good gifts, skills, and characteristics God has given us, we scramble to try to earn the favor and praise of others.
    3. We strive: Similar to scrambling, striving happens when we start climbing a ladder fast and hard to meet the standards or expectations towards worldly “success.” This is what happens when we try to prove to ourselves or others that we ARE in fact enough. Can you learn to rest secure instead? Not in what you have done or haven’t yet done, but in what God has done for you. He has already rescued you, redeemed you, set you free. You do not have to live a life of striving.
    4. We become stunted: The too much/not enough lies can make us compare our beginnings, our skills, or our stories to those around us. And then in that comparison, we can become completely paralyzed. Our growth stops when we try to be like someone else, or when we are frozen in fear that we will never be good enough to try going after those dreams He’s placed in our hearts. Instead, we are called to walk forward in the confidence and calling that God has for us, and in who He made us to be.
    5. We suppress: When we fear rejection for the truest and most authentic parts of ourselves, we hold back and dim everything about us that in fact makes us unique. Because maybe, when we have let our true selves show in the past, someone verbalized our deepest fear….that who we are (our very essence) was too much/not enough for THEM. But for God? The One who made you? The one who knows the very numbers on your head? You are exactly who He made you to be, sweet friend.

     

    “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” -Isaiah 61:3

    The TRUTH:

    Notice that it says in Isaiah 61:3, that they will be called oaks of righteousness for HIS Splendor. By HIS planting.

    I know that we live in a culture of upward mobility. Of making room for ourselves to make our voices heard. Or rubbing elbows to get in with the right crowd. When we are not secure in who HE has made us to be, we worry that we are not enough. We become so fixated on what we can do, and on not making the mark, that the ground beneath us becomes unsteady.

    We do not have to do the work or put our own selves on display. In Him, we are oaks. Firm. Strong. Righteous. Planted- exactly as He made us, and exactly where He wants us to be.

    While the opinions, values, and feelings of this world can change in an instant, and are as fickle as the “breath in our nostrils,” our God is different. Throughout Scripture there are SO many powerful images of God as a steadfast and steady force. Here are just a few that remind me of the strength we can find when we trust in God:

    “And they remembered that God was their rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer,” -Psalm 78:35

    “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?” -2 Samuel 22:32

    “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” -Romans 8:31

    “Be still and know that I am God.” -Psalm 46:10

    “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” -Psalm 95:1-5

    “‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” -Isaiah 54:10

    Instead of swaying back and forth, trying to be everything to everyone, I pray that in HIM, you can stand firm. I challenge you to rest secure in the fact that the Creator of the universe also created you, with all of your quirks, character traits, passions, and your specific voice. We do not have to scramble or strive for value, because we are already seen as valuable to our rock and redeemer. If we can take our focus off of the changing tides of this world, we can keep our eyes on His steady face and do it all for His glory instead of man’s.

    Lord I pray that you would remind each of us that we are not defined by what we DO, but by who you are, and who we are in you. Help us to rest secure in You, in your steadfast love and righteousness, not in our own striving or scrambling, or in the changing and unsteady things of this world. I pray that we would rest our souls before you, knowing that in you we can be called oaks of righteousness, planted and secure. Because you are more than enough for our questions of whether we are enough, Lord. We pray that today we might find our value in You, and You alone.

     

     

    *This post is part of a series about IDENTITY for the month of August. If you want to read the series, here is the introduction (Who do you think you are?), followed by a post about our new-found purity in Christ, no matter how dirty we feel (I am clean, I am made new), and last week’s post about the lie that you are unworthy of love. Also, special thanks to fancycrave1 of Pixaby and Kevin Young of Unsplash for the beautiful images to accompany this post.

  • anxiety,  identity,  rest,  trust

    Mary, Martha, and Me- From Striving to Rest

     

    THOSE SISTERS

    I was reminded this week about the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10, and I pictured myself about halfway between the sisters. I can imagine running to and fro trying to get everything just right, bumping into Martha as we hurry past each other in the kitchen. But I’d also stop for just a few minutes to eavesdrop on Mary and Jesus, soaking in just enough of His presence that I was NEAR to Him but not WITH him. That’s what I’ve done this week. I read the Word, I prayed the prayers, I did the ministry stuff, I was faithful in my work and parenting, but at the end of the day I was still leaning on my own strength. Here’s what Jesus told Martha when she bugged Him about making Mary help (He surely reminded me of the same truth this week) in Luke 10:41-42-

    “Martha, Martha, [Heather, Heather] you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

     

    STRIVING

    Sometimes our best laid plans don’t quite work out the way we envision, and the way we respond says a lot about us. Earlier this week, a project launched that I had poured a ton of time and creativity into; I felt confident and excited to watch it flourish. But factors outside of my control meant the project just didn’t quite land as expected. I quickly flew into a tailspin of proving myself—hurrying around and hustling hard. I jumped into action with fresh ideas and this striving started trickling into my relationships. I was suddenly caught up in fear that I wasn’t “doing” enough and wondered if I had been a good friend/sister/daughter lately. Which led to more hustling.

    Midway through the week, a sweet man in my life and I had a little chat. I was feeling anxious and burnt out and stressed, struggling with my sense of self-worth. I told him, “I don’t get it—I spent like an hour reading the Bible and journaling today at lunch, and I’ve been reading the Word and praying a lot lately but I still feel off.” He asked me to tell him more about what I’d read that day… I shared the parallels I’d found in Jeremiah 17 and 1 Corinthians.

    Jeremiah 17:5-8:

    “This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

    But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

    And 1 Corinthians 1:27-31-

    “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

    I realized I had been leaning on my own strength and not resting. At. All. And when I trust in my own strength, I am parched like that bush in the wastelands y’all. Here’s what STRIVING looks like in my world:

    • Relying on my own strength and understanding/plans
    • Proving myself through my efforts
    • Easily affected by my circumstances
    • Trying to live up to the expectations of others (even if they are self-imposed/assumed on my part)
    • HARD WORK, which tends towards legalism to earn the Lord’s favor/the good feelings of others
    • Exhaustion (parched desert!)
    • Pride
    • Judgment (of myself and sometimes others)
    • Anxiety/rushed decision making

    REST

    So what’s the solution? I find it in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

    My striving looks a lot like the first part of this verse- laboring, toiling, weary, tired, burdened, heavy laden, worn out, burnt out. Sometimes with even good things! But my hard work and doing things on my own strength do not define who I am. When I allow myself to REST in His strength, HE makes me strong and brings peace. This goes against everything in my perfectionism that says “keep hustling,” but leaning on Him brings peace and refreshment to my soul. So if the opposite of striving is REST, here’s what we get to experience:

    • Leaning on His strength. Finding that it is okay to show weakness, because that is where His strength can carry us and show His power.
    • His wisdom (not our own way of understanding)
    • Deep roots; we are not tossed to and fro because we are planted (Jeremiah 17:5-9; Psalm 23)
    • The ability to be more present and connected with others
    • Gentleness for ourselves
    • Clarity of thought; sanity!
    • Childlike joy as we slow down enough to recognize the sweet blessings in our lives
    • GRACE

    This summer, I will continue to pray for margin in my life (and in yours!). Not just tiny cracks for time spent NEAR the Lord, but an abundance of time to sit at the feet of Jesus. I pray that you also can spend time resting in His strength, and knowing that no matter what your circumstances bring, your soul can be stilled because your identity is found in the one who made you and who rests with you.

    If you’re like me and need extra help thinking about why rest could possibly be important, here are some helpful resources I recommend.

    • Sabbath rhythm- I’m so thankful for my friend Alexis Girvan who has introduced me to the beauty of intentionally spending time each week in Sabbath… read some of her work here or this awesome book Alexis recommended to me by Wayne Muller that helped me dig deeper into Sabbath
    • Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
    • This Spotify playlist I made that is on repeat in my house lately-summer rest
    • Memorize Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 23; Matthew 11:28

    When we put rest in HIM first–when we lean on Him for our source of refreshment–the world cannot take that good portion away from us. I hope you’ll choose rest with me.