Lightening the Load

It’s so easy to get pulled down by the weight of the world that we carry on our shoulders. Everywhere we turn there seems to be more and more bad news, destruction, disappointment, devastation, pain, and loss. But what if we didn’t have to carry it? What if we could lay it down and walk freely?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 1:28-30

We need to recognize that we are not defined by the world. We are not defined by what we do, what happens to us or the world around us, or who others say we are. We are defined by whose we are. And we are God’s. We are His masterpiece. We are His heirs. We are victorious in Him. We are beautifully and wonderfully made.

What if we decided that we will no longer be defined by the length of our to-do lists or the relative weight of our accomplishments? What if we were to choose each day to let ourselves be defined by something completely independent of our striving? What if instead of trying to do more, instead of trying to be more, we simply embrace the fact that we already are enough?

No matter what this world tries to convince us of, we are enough. We don’t have to live the way others tell us to live. We don’t have to believe the lies of the enemy. We don’t have to try to fit ourselves into the box set before us. We don’t have to live in the shadows, where shame, guilt, fear, and insecurity surround us.

In Christ, we have the freedom to release our stress and our heaviest burdens and walk through this life helping others do the same. We get to leave behind the cares and concerns and worries of this world and set our sights on one in which God will “wipe away every tear from [our] eyes. And there will be no more sorrow or crying or death or pain” (Revelation 21:4).

Yes, difficult times come to us all. Bad things happen. We get hurt. We make mistakes and suffer the consequences. We get ourselves in over our heads with committing to too many things and comparing our lives to those around us. But we don’t have to live our lives that way. We can grieve and hurt and heal and keep moving, keep living.

No matter what happens in our personal lives, we are God’s. We can rest assured in our identity in Him. Regardless of what goes on in the world around us, we can be comforted knowing our God is never shaken. He stands firm in the fiercest storm and holds us close. We don’t have to carry our baggage around like dead weight. Through individual struggles and in the midst of a culture filled with fear, we can dare to live differently.

We can show this world that there is more to life than our endless to-do lists and the bleak outlook the news broadcasts give us. There is abundant hope and overwhelming joy for the taking.

Will you join me in taking it?

 

Further reading:

When You Feel Like You’re Not Enough by Renee Swope, (in)courage

Have You Made Busyness an Idol? by Rachel Moreland, Relevant Magazine

Kairos 20’s by Kristyn Emmer, Awkward 20-Something & Surviving It

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Tuning In

There are so many competing voices in our world, trying to tell us who we are and who we need to be. We are bombarded with messages from the media, our peers, societal norms, and more on a daily basis. How do we decide what’s true? How do we even begin to filter through the different messages we’re being fed?

What we believe about who we are changes how we behave. If we listen to the multitude of voices telling us we’re not good enough, we will come to believe it and live defeated lives devoid of joy, deep love, worthiness, and peace. We will be stressed as we strive to do better in our own strength, continually sabotaging our own efforts as we engage in self-fulfilling prophecies, telling ourselves that nothing we ever do will be enough.

If we feel the need to change who we are to conform to the messages we receive from others, we will spend a great deal of time and effort trying to fit into a box we were never created to fit into.

On the flip side, if we remind ourselves that we are beloved, cherished children of the Most High God, we are empowered. We know that although we cannot do everything on our own, we can lean on the One who makes all things possible through His strength.

While messages from media and in our culture change at the blink of an eye, the Word of God is eternal and constant. I find comfort in knowing God’s opinion of me never changes. Some truths that I need to remind myself of frequently include:

I am a new creation. My past isn’t held against me. My failures and mistakes no longer define who I am in God’s sight, so they shouldn’t color my own opinion of myself.

I am a child and heir of God. I have a Heavenly Father who deeply cares about me and my life. He delights in taking care of me; I don’t have to do it all myself.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. No matter what the world tells me the newest metric is for measuring beauty, I can remain confident knowing that I am precious in God’s sight.

I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God.

For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love (Ephesians 1:4).

I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Christ.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7).

I am God’s workmanship created to produce good works.

For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them (Ephesians 2:10). -Kenneth Boa, Bible.org

We can decide which voices we listen to and which ones we silence. We can let the truth drown out the multitude of lies, or we can allow the lies to creep in and crowd out the truth– the choice is ours.

So what messages are you tuning into? What do you have the hardest time believing about who God says you are? Do you have any ways of reminding yourself of these truths that have been particularly successful for you?

Embracing Enough

It is unbelievably easy in our world to feel like we’re not enough, like we can never do enough, achieve enough, or be enough on our own.

But striving to achieve more, climb up the corporate ladder, volunteer more, donate more, host more, give more, or do more isn’t going to make us more satisfied in the end. These things cannot make us better people. Striving for them will leave us feeling defeated and empty. We need to dig deeper to find our satisfaction.

In the midst of a world full of voices telling you that you are not enough, I am here to remind you (and remind myself at the same time) that you are enough– just the way you are. You don’t have to pretend you have it all together, that you’re the perfect employee, parent, spouse, sibling, roommate, child, student, cook, housekeeper, writer, athlete, spokesperson, or leader.

Our culture pressures us to pursue all of these things simultaneously –somehow magically finding the ability to climb the corporate ladder while being the ultra-supportive spouse, PTO mom, baking perfect treats for the kids’ bake sales, keeping the house and white picket fence in pristine condition, maintaining a slim figure without being too concerned with restrictive diets or detracting from time spent with the family. But we need to realize these expectations are deeply flawed.

We were all created unique. Each of us has special talents and characteristics that make us different from those around us, and that is a beautiful thing. We have unique things to offer and contribute. Having a different point of view allows for more ideas to be generated, greater creativity to be fostered, collaboration that creates even greater products, and healthy competition that pushes individuals to new heights.

When we embrace the reality that these expectations are unrealistic and unhealthy, we become more accepting of flaws. As we celebrate our differences and acknowledge that we all have different strengths, we ultimately see that we have our own weaknesses as well, and that’s okay. By sharing in our strengths and weaknesses, we can create space for authenticity when we’re not afraid to admit our struggles and inadequacy. We cannot singlehandedly be everything our world needs. We have a significant part to play, but let’s not stress ourselves out by trying to do our part perfectly or trying to play others’ parts on top of our own.

As I myself struggle with insecurity, I’m reminded that an aspect of finding rest this year will be found in my pursuit of fully understanding and embracing my identity in Christ. Because He created me as His masterpiece, His work of art, I can know that I am beautiful and wonderful in His sight, no matter what lies our culture tries to feed be about who I should be and what I should be doing. God has a unique place for me in His plan and in the world, and remembering that every day is key to feeling purposeful, joyful, secure, and complete.

Have you thought about that? What does it mean to be God’s masterpiece? It means He is proud of the work He has done in creating us. He is eager to point to us and say, “I made that!” He enjoys sitting back and admiring His wonderful handiwork.

“Perfection isn’t the point, kiddo. You’re perfect because I’m perfect, because I gave you my perfection and took every bit of your mess. Oh, one more thing… you’re loved more than you could ever imagine — exactly as you are.” – Allison Vesterfelt

Frankly, on our own, we never will feel like enough.Inevitably, when we master one thing, we find another in which we feel deficient. But, if we let them, these perceived shortcomings can actually fuel our growth instead of feeding our insecurity. When we see our weaknesses as an integral part of the journey of growing into who we’re uniquely created to be, instead of the miserable result of comparing our inner struggles with others’ outer successes, we will have a healthier perspective on life.

Acknowledging our need for improvement, and the fact that we can’t do it on our own but need to rely upon our Creator to continue molding us into who we’re meant to be, allows us to rely on His strength to see genuine transformation from the inside out. By God’s strength and grace, we are being renewed every day, undergoing marvelous transformation at the hands of our Creator, becoming more like Him and more like who we want to be. And that is enough.