Cease Striving

I can always tell when my energy reserves are depleted. My thoughts and actions come from a place that is not Spirit-led and it’s as though I revert back to primitive coping methods. I am short-tempered and generally low on patience. I start scrutinizing the attitudes and actions of others from a place of judgment, which is never a good look. Of course, this comes far after I’ve ignored the signs that I need to pause and rest. And those who usually end up paying the price for my inability to give myself a timeout are my husband and my son, and the last thing I ever want to do is make my home a place of frustration or hostility.

I’m sure that as a woman, you can relate. How did we get here as a gender, thinking that we should be able to carry it all well? Sometimes I think it’s seeing a need and wanting to help, or taking on that extra task that just pushes timeline for the day over the edge. I think as women, we should encourage each other to take a break– if even for half a day, just to rest, breathe and fill our cups back up. And I think we should celebrate and affirm women who have the self-awareness and grit to say, “These things can wait. I need to take care of me right now.” I mean, after all, are we really being effective in being productive when we are running on empty? Or are we just being busy but serving no lasting purpose?

This morning in my quiet time, I cried. I’ve been coasting on fumes trying to get to the finish line of some of my deadlines for school and work. I was thinking to myself, I just need a break. I told God that, and I asked him to show me what’s most important right now because I’m literally so tired, I don’t feel like doing ANY.THING.

I heard the gentle whisper of the words, “Cease striving,” and it hit me.

Thinking back, my whole life has been about striving. About fighting life. About struggling. Struggling for and against things that I was never meant to go to battle for ( i.e., lack of boundaries and codependent-driven actions). Someone ( I can’t remember who) said that if you have to struggle for something to the point that you are no longer healthy, you might be fighting the wrong battle. Well, I’m there again– full-on striving. My thoughts and my actions indicate that I’m feeling the need to control the balls I’m juggling rather than surrender those things into God’s capable hands.

I flipped open my Bible to Psalm 46 and began reading. Here is what the scripture says:

Psalm 46: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes war cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.

Cease striving and know that I AM God; I will be exalted above the nations, I will be exalted on the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

While the Psalmist is referring to God’s message to Israel and her enemies, the message applies to us today, right where we are in the middle of life. God lovingly speaks a word of encouragement to his daughters, knowing that in this time and this place we would be afraid, tired, and taking on too much. He sends his word to remind us that he is always with us, he is our helper, our fortress. We don’t have to do life in our strength, we can rest knowing that God is God- not us. He’s in the details, he’s already seen the future. We can truly experience his divine rest on earth right now knowing that he’s got it.

Friends, God never asked us to carry our burdens. Thanks to the shed blood of Jesus, we don’t have to. I’m praying for you today. It’s time to cease striving.

Come to me, you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. I am meek (gentle) and lowly in heart (humble); and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. -Matthew 11:28-30

Cue the song of the day.

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