Tired of Striving?

Learn to Be Still
“Stop doing things for God, and spend more time Being in His presence.” Loretta Chalfant

Are you performance-driven?

That’s how I lived. Always striving to be productive. The more things I scratched off my list at the end of the day, the BETTER, I felt.

Who am I kidding? I’m still that way. The problem is, there’s always another list.

A friend of mine told me, “Christian women are horrible when it comes to knowing how to Rest.”

Could it be Christian women spend too much time striving to be a “good Christian” rather than rest in who we are in Christ?

Because I’m wired to be performance-driven, I originally took that mindset into my Christian walk. I felt the more I did for God, the more He’d love me. Isn’t that how it works in life with people?

My love language is acts of service so loving God meant I had to serve Him on top of trying to be the perfect wife and supermom. You’ve heard of the Proverbs 31 woman, right?

So over the years, this “good Christian” worked in the church nursery. Taught children’s Sunday School.  Made meals for sick people. Attended Women’s Bible Study. Showed up whenever there was a women’s event. For a time, home schooled my kids. Volunteered in their school classrooms. Drove on every field trip.

Oh, don’t forget reaching out to the neighbors. We have to evangelize. And Christians must be Light and Salt in the community: Help the homeless, the poor, the people in jail.

Yada yada….DID I FORGET SOMETHING?

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Bottom line: I was like a worn out, limp dishrag, trying so hard to earn God’s love and approval. Never certain I hit the mark. Never satisfied with my performance. 

Please, say I’m not the only one.

That’s when the Lord brought a spiritual mentor into my life. Loretta listened to me during Bible Study, and recognized the taskmaster within me.

“Stop Doing things for God,” she said, “and spend more time Being in His Presence.”

Sheer exhaustion made me stop. That, and the desire to experience more of God.

I made an honest appraisal of everything I thought I had to earn, or experience, to be satisfied. I asked myself:

  • Why am I doing these things?
  • If I do more for God, will He love me more?

Old habits are hard to break, but I learned from experience that intimacy with God doesn’t happen because I have lots of Biblical knowledge or serve others.

Intimacy comes from knowing God. And that happens when we make the time to be still in God’s presence…meditating on His Word, listening for His voice. Seeking His face, not His blessings.

Only then, can our hearts rest and be satisfied even in this….hectic world.

Bench photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Foster

How Do I Give Up Control?

My teenage son is going on a weekend trip. He waits till the last minute to pack his duffel bag. I follow him out the front door with my mental checklist.

“Did you pack extra socks? You want to keep your feet warm.”

“One pair should be enough.”

“Did you pack sunscreen?”

“Someone else should have some.”

“Do you have a flashlight?”

No answer.

I’d say my voice is going in his one ear and out the other, but there’s an ear bud inserted into his right ear.

Dad’s voice, “Leave him alone. He’ll be fine.”

“What if he forgets something he needs?”

“Then he’ll remember it next time.”

They drive away, leaving an exasperated mother. “I wonder if he packed a tooth brush.”

My daughter says I’d make a great administrative assistant. Even when I leave home, I type out detailed instructions.

“Water the plants on these days. Don’t forget to take out garbage. In case of emergency, call….blah, blah, blah.”

Okay, so I micro manage.  I’m being real here. But how do I give up control?

Do I allow my child to learn from his mistakes and suffer the consequences when I can prevent many what ifs from happening?

Or can I?

Through no fault of her own, my friend was in a serious car accident. Her daily routine and future plans came to an abrupt halt. While she recuperates, I cringe. What if that happened to me?

Ruled by the tyranny of the urgent, I don’t have time to pause in mid-sentence and wait for life to resume.

Or do I?

Sixteen years ago, I gave birth to my son a week before Christmas. He was three weeks ahead of schedule. Unable to breathe on his own, he was hooked to a ventilator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

I had no control.

Instead of running nonstop to prepare for the holidays, I spent two weeks being still in a dim hospital room with my newborn infant. Baking cookies, mailing Christmas cards, and a dozen other holiday traditions didn’t happen that year. However,

When I loosened my grip on everything I thought was important

Surrendered my expectations

Kept my mind fixed on the Sovereign God

Trusted Him regardless of the outcome

“He kept me in perfect peace.” Isaiah 26:3

He still does ….

When I give up my need for control, and sit still in His presence.