Maybe today you don’t row.
I know, it seems unrealistic, and it mostly is in practicality. But what if this day you just float? And breath? And let go? Where might you go if you surrender your oars for a bit? Crazy? Backwards? What if you don’t?
There’s a hustle in me that’s no good. It’s not. It’s a strain really, and it flexes the wrong muscle — just enough strength to tip my own canoe. It’s been a dynamic for much of my life, and maybe yours, too. It’s probably best named as striving, but it can look like motivation. Maybe it doesn’t even look like that. Maybe it looks more like trying. But I know better by now. It’s taken me some time to recognize it, but alas, midlife has unearthed all my unmentionables. I don’t know whether to kiss it in gratitude or kick it in the crotch. I do know it means to serve me, and so what I do with that is entirely up to me.
In my opinion, all the self-help books, or motivational speakers, or pats on the back, will not touch the roots of striving. It will never suffice. I’m not even talking about simply eating better, or managing time more efficiently, but those fall under that umbrella. I’m talking about self-worth, at its center. The place we live out of, then in turn apply aforementioned helps. If I think for one moment that doing better makes me better, I’ve missed the boat entirely. (Some of us are still treading water in hopes it will circle back for us) It will. There’s always another chance to get on board as long as there is air in our lungs. But once aboard, how do we chart our everyday course?
I am slowly coming to terms with my dreadful gift of overcompensation. I’ve plowed as the motor when all I was supposed to do was enjoy the view. Maybe because I thought I had to earn my keep as passenger? After all, nobody rides for free, right? I think that’s what I’ve had wrong, actually. We all ride for free (paid in full) and if we think we contribute a penny of merit to the voyage at hand, we have forgotten this. I will never add more dignity or value to my life, or another’s, apart from what already presently exists. And it exists because we were cut from the cloth of heaven. Plain and simple, huh? Well, I like to complicate it. Maybe you do, too.
We measure, weigh, assign value and importance that is already attributed to us. I can no more add to what God had already done, than I can add stars to the sky, but my hustle tells me I can. My do-good tells me I really can. And when I’m “doing good” I then fall prey to a false sense of righteousness and pride. Who doesn’t enjoy the notion of having your crap together? But it is just a notion, friends…none of us do. And if you tell me differently, I’ll kindly leave you to your delusion. After all, I’ve been there, too. Ducks in a row looks and feels real good, I know.
So why is it that in the moments I am painfully aware of my shortcomings, I bear up and over perform somewhere else? To distract from the man behind the curtain? Probably. To prove I am worthy of my place here? Yes, I think so. We all want a place here. But so did James and John: the seat right next to Jesus. It’s simply in our DNA to want to be good, and OK, and on the inside.
What if I told you (and myself) that you are just as worthy of love and goodness in the midst of your most horrific, would-die-if-anyone-knew moments? It’s one thing to be told, isn’t it? It’s another to believe it. I’ve been trying to believe it my entire life. Every time I have given up this idea, Love brings it back before me. I cannot get away from the truth of this matter, no matter how vehement my disbelief; no matter what everything/everyone else tells me. I cannot hustle self-worth. Impossible. That hustle will absolutely burn my motor out, and drown those around me who can’t keep up. I have done this; I have had it done to me. It’s is exhausting and a burden none can carry for long.
Striving is a way of life for many of us, but we call it nicer names: excellence; commitment; success; doing what we have to do, etc. Lord have mercy, we have even called it concern or help! If in our quest for all these things, we are not discovering more of the God-given value in ourselves or others, then it is not those things — it is striving. It’s hustling. It’s drivenness, and it actually robs dignity and devalues. This is why it will never be enough: it is based on what we do, not who we are.
Friends, this leaves me to live as a life-long imposter. So in the quiet of my soul, I never know or believe my real worth, but for what I can produce of it. Well, I drained that vein until I about died. I guess that’s one way to learn this lesson.
Once we face ourselves, and find the atrocities we are capable of, it’s decision time:
Will I work for my worth, or will I rest in Love that holds all my worth as a whole?
It’s so painful to live out of dribbling self-worth. I bet you money I’ve been the best at the worst of it. I basically jumped ship! But He found me dead in the water, dove overboard to wrap His arms around me, pulled my dead weight over the stern, and blew out all the works I was choking on. And He loved me in that moment just as much as He loved me when I performed well, because He loves me for me — not for what I can do or cannot do. And I cannot make myself any more or less lovable to Him, no matter how madly I attempt to.
This is what we all want to know: Am I really worthy of love, with all that I am and all that I am not? Circumstances speak differently, but He always speaks the same.
So, let’s be carried by that today, even if we move backwards or forwards or tip right over. He’s able to stand for us even when we can’t stand ourselves.