so, I’ve got issues
We meet over coffee, and I tell her how I can struggle to slow and listen for God. And then I tell her how yesterday wasn’t productive; I hadn’t made a dent in what I hoped I would be able to get done. So I didn’t want to listen. I didn’t want to slow.
I tell her that, as evening turned to night, I kept working, kept trying to achieve and fix and complete. I yearned for that not-so-familiar feeling of accomplishment, that mini-euphoric-mood-lift that comes in the rare moments I believe I have worked enough, that day. And then, and then, I could slow. And then, and then, I would have the peace of mind to listen.
I couldn’t possibly stop and rest and do something I loved . . . I hadn’t earned it yet.
Do you struggle with slowing, at all?
I have other issues, too.
I tell my friend another thing–that when my doctor, two weeks ago, told me I should make exercise a priority and work out at least five times a week, if not more, I became less motivated to continue the almost daily exercise I was already doing. I enjoy exercising, but now it was so much less appealing because the doctor told me I should to do it.
I don’t like being told what to do.
My poor friend. . . . I continued talking . . .
I tell her that my husband (sweet man), suggested–after seeing my angst and frustration and striving–it might be a good thing if I slowed and spent some time with God before we went to bed. Yes, he thought, it would be so good for me to slow and rest and listen.
I told him I didn’t feel like it.
And I told him I wasn’t going to listen to God and I wasn’t going to write Loop and I wish I were better at getting lots of things done in a short amount of time and I wish I were better at juggling lots more things than I am right now. I wish I were more productive with the time I have. Maybe if I were extroverted and more organized and more efficient I would get everything done in a day? Maybe I would have a good day, then? Maybe I would be able to listen to God, then?
What a mess I am sometimes–a mess of pride and willfulness and rebellion.
Something in me was rising up, pushing back, wanting to ignore the things I love to do, the things I know make me feel wrapped up in God’s love for me. I was my old self throwing a fit, wanting to do things I decide to do, on my own terms.
What’s going on?
It’s difficult to discern the whispers of our heart when we’re running–running to prove, running to get done, running to attain. Our heart is numbed when we keep ourselves so busy. It’s silenced, pushed down. There is little way, when we are scrambling and striving, to figure out what it needs most.
There is an idol I need to confess.
What we need is not often what we chase down. Rather, we often chase replacements, counterfeits for the real thing we truly crave. At our core, we crave God. We are desperate for Him. But we forget. We forget because we haven’t practiced stopping to look for Him. Rather, we wish we were better versions of ourselves or a different person altogether. When we refuse to slow and believe our worth comes from what we do rather than who we are, we have made an idol of ourselves. We believe we are whom should be worshiped, attended to. We know better than God. . . . We can’t fathom being perfectly made, and we believe that if the day doesn’t go as perfectly as we would have liked it is a reflection of our weaknesses, our failures.
We can easily wish we were different. We can easily believe life would be better if we were someone else.
My friend listens and encourages me on. And I share with her the loving voice mail another friend left on my phone just that day. She felt she needed to call and tell me something:
Lasting change comes when our hearts are focused more on the Healer who does the good work in us and less on the problems in ourselves we pray that God will heal. Freedom exists only in our greater trust, deeper intimacy with God. He does the good work in us; we cannot work and attain any joy and satisfaction in this world, on our own. No matter how hard we try.
Focusing on God and His goodness is always better than focusing on our inadequacies. We will keep running in circles, on an endless treadmill of trying to attain something we can never attain–rest, peace, joy–if we don’t slow and listen to the truth of our Father.
His voice in us, to us, with us, is always, always, the one we need to heed. Our own noise can only be tuned out through the quieting reality of His presence.
And so, right there, in the coffee shop, I read aloud to my friend the fruit of slowing and listening and believing His truth rather than the made-up one where we are striving and trying to prove our own worth. This, from Loop, is the last bit of what He said:
Throw down this lie you chase that makes you strive towards imaginary perfection. You will not receive my joy, my peace, my life in you that sustains if you continue to chase what is not meant for you to attain. Who are you to decide what it means to be desired, perfected, worthy? Who are you to shun what I’ve made and desire something different?
Let me show you this daughter of mine. Let Me show you the beauty of her, the joy she brings Me, the strength in her to love just the way I’ve made her to love, to work with the passions I’ve given her to use. She is mighty when she knows who and whose she is and abandons all idols that bring distraction to this life I’ve given her, distractions that bring death to her heart.
For I bring life, my daughter. I bring you life. And this life I bring you is in you. I am in you. You are my delight and the one I sing over and never, ever want to leave.
He is right here. He is not hiding from you and me. He is not waiting for us to be someone different than who He has created us to be so we can be loved and accepted. As Jennifer Lee so beautifully puts it in her book Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes, coming out in April 1, we are Preapproved. There is not a thing we can ever–or need to ever–earn. We are loved because God is love. We are loved because we are what the author of love created. There’s nothing else He can do.
I encourage you to head on over to Jennifer’s as she has a pretty cool invitation for you. . . Because, yes, we are Preapproved.
And if you want to listen to God’s whispers to us, together, subscribe to Loop. Click right here.
Want to join me, thinking about what idol He might be asking us to lay down?
So grateful you’re here,