Striving to death

I tend to be a woman of extremes. I struggle with neutrality. Or maybe the word is contentment. If you are in my sphere, you have probably heard me utter phrases like, “I’m burning up!”, “I am freezing to death!”, “I am so full I may never eat again!”, “This always happens to me!”, “That will never happen to me!”, “Let’s eat, I am starving to death!” You get the picture. I do not have a mild mannered or mediocre personality or world view.

As of late, I have added a new lament to my repertoire : “I am striving to death!”

I am not saying that striving for something is always bad. But the “to death” part qualifies. I have had this phrase rolling around in my brain for the past week or so. I have postponed the blog because I was waiting on God to reveal some sort of enlightened answer to my problem. Something I, and hopefully at least one of you, could benefit from and stop the frenzy. This morning, I reminded myself that the whole reason I started writing these posts in the first place was to reason things out with God, on paper.

I start out confounded, confused and controlling and end up with clarity and contentment.

While I write, my mind detangles itself and let’s God in. Or maybe it is God doing the untangling after I let him in. Either way, I have solution and relief when I am done.

Today, I need to detangle. Let’s get going.

The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity. Some of it has been beneficial and beautiful. I have connected with dozens of new friends as I do interviews, podcasts and simply connect with like minded authors and speakers who are also trying to get their message out to any one who will listen. I have lost count of how many men and women I have encountered who have huge dreams and stories to share in order to impact the world with God’s love.

I am also a realtor in one of the most frenzied markets in history. Too many buyers for the the number of houses available lends itself to scrambling, bargaining and sacrificing (you want a membership to the country club, monthly massages, my first born?).

Both of these endeavors require intentionality and for me to be paying acute attention to one or the other at any given time. It can be overwhelming, to say the least. It can also be discouraging. I have been feeling discouraged these past few weeks because I have lost more offers (because there were 10 other offers) than I have secured. In “book” world, I have done countless interviews and podcasts and posts, only to feel like I am spinning my wheels on most days.

So what do I do about it? I worry. I fret.I tell myself I stink at both and should just go work at Starbucks already. I fear not that I will fail, but that I am failing. To be honest, I don’t even know what benchmark I could reach in either realm that would help me feel secure and satisfied. It’s nebulous and vague, but definitely out of my reach.

man climbing on gray concrete peak at daytime
Photo by Rodrigo on Pexels.com

As usual, before I write, I do several readings out of a variety of books. This morning I was reading from a book called, “A Return to Prayer” by Marianne Williamson. And, as usual, I found the answer I needed:

In You (God) I trust; nothing else is real.

In You I have faith; nothing else has power.

And so it is that I am where I belong, and I shall strive for nothing.

That’s it. That’s the golden ticket. “I am where I belong.” I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

My only responsibility is to do what is in my power to do today and leave the results and the timeline up to God. What did or didn’t happen yesterday is no longer my concern.

My job is to do the foot-work and heart-work at any given moment. This is the highest and most profound action I can take.

As I was prepping to write, I decided to look up the word strive. Because I am not a complete idiot, I realize there are some good types of striving and some bad types. It struck me that there are some pretty extreme synonyms for striving (and since I am an extreme type of person, as I mentioned above, my extreme brain picked up on this immediately!). On one end of the spectrum you have casual synonyms like “have a go at” or “give it a whirl” and on the other there are some serious ones like “pull out all the stops”, “fight/battle/war/combat” or the best yet, “crusade!”.

In the end, I think it’s best for me to “strive” to stay somewhere in the middle with synonyms like “make every effort”, “do one’s utmost/best” or “venture/undertake/endeavor/seek/aspire/aim”. But that’s till not the full picture. These words and phrases remind me words form a guy named Paul. He says: “Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people” (Colossians 3:23 ISV). I might add also, not to do it “merely for yourself.”

In other words, If I am doing my work (or even my play) for God’s glory and His alone, whether it’s Soul-Selfie activity or real estate, then I can relax and trust him with the outcome. If He is God, by His nature in charge and in control with complete wisdom and knowledge of what’s best for me and those I affect, then I can afford to relax. I can stop the incessant, extreme, wrong-end-of-the-continuum striving that threatens to pull me under and strangle the joy and serenity right out of my very soul.

Where I am in this very moment is exactly where I am supposed to be. Your successes are not a threat to me. Your path will not look anything like mine. Your timeline is as unique to you as mine is to me. It has been my experience that my ideas for living my best life are not always the same as God’s. For that, I am grateful, because in the end, He is able to do “immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 4:20 NIV)

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