Have you ever just felt really exhausted?
I’m not talking about sleep deprivation, although trust me, I know about that too. Our daughter didn’t start sleeping through the night until she was 7 months old and even then, she was an early riser. We spent about 3 or 4 months waking up with her every morning at 5 or 5:30 am! So for the past year I have definitely understood what it means to be exhausted from lack of sleep. Thankfully God has given us the sweet, sweet gift of sleep lately! For the past 2 months Riley has been going to bed around 6:30pm, and not waking up until about 7:30am, 13 hours later! I feel pretty well rested when it comes to sleep (praise God).
No, I’m talking about a different kind of exhaustion. The kind that penetrates into deep places of your heart because you have been desperately pursuing approval for years. Approval from other people, and approval from God.
A couple of weeks ago (or last week, who can keep track of time anymore?) I wrote a post about some of the spiritual stuff I have been working through lately, some of the sin that has been revealed in my life, and the invitation that God is giving an “Elder brother” like me. The invitation to come join the party with him.
Well this past week I’ve realized that this invitation is an invitation of rest.
Though my faith (and identity) is sincere and solid, I have been trying to prove myself to God and to others for the past 7 years of my life. I tried to prove myself through leadership positions with campus ministries in college. I tried to prove myself by going on staff with a campus ministry and being a full time college campus minister for 4 years. I have been trying to prove myself by recently taking a leadership class through my church, speaking at IV events at UNC, speaking at an upcoming conference with Greek InterVarsity, leading a group of UNC IV women, and working on writing a devotional study with a friend.
And I’m weary.
I’ve realized in the past week that, in addition to all of these “ministry” activities in my life, I have been treating my relationship with God like another activity- one of constantly intaking information. I like to learn, and I enjoy thinking deeply. And those things are good! But I’ve been turning my alone time with God into a time of highlighting thought provoking sentences in deep theological books written by pastors and scholars. I’ve been dissecting scripture in a way that makes me “smarter” and (seemingly) more “godly” and “spiritual.” And these are not bad things. But for me, there has been a missing component.
The thing is: God is a person.
He is not some lofty “concept” that makes sense. He is not an “idea” that is wise. He is not a “theory” or some huge library of information for me to attain, with any hope that I can arrive at full understanding or memorization of. He is not an award to be won, with lots of great effort. He is not a means to an end.
He is a person.
And I think I need a break from this constant intaking of information, and I need to enjoy time in the presence of this Person. I desperately need it and am craving it.
Recently I have had two people tell me (separately, each without knowing the other had told me this) that I often talk about how my relationship with my daughter is teaching me so much about my relationship with God, but that I need to remember that I am not God in the analogy! I am the baby. Even every meal that I eat is from the hand of God. I am utterly and completely dependent on Him. He loves me unconditionally, like I love Riley. But I am like Riley. I need Him to take care of me. Every second of every day.
I must admit that while this sounds a bit refreshing to me, I also don’t like it very much. I like to feel self-sufficient. I like to feel like I am attaining a certain godliness and standing with God on my own, rather than obtaining it solely through Him. But you know, I’ve realized lately that trying so hard to be God in the analogy is not really leading me anywhere (except perhaps to depression and anxiety).
So blog (or self. Or friends. Or readers), I am taking a bit of a break. I am trying to let myself be humbled by seeing myself as the baby. I need to let my Father pick me up in His arms and hold me for a little bit. Which means I just said “no” to a ministry invitation for the 1st time in awhile, which admittedly was difficult (but good). And it also means that I am going to become a lighter writer for awhile.
That doesn’t mean that I am not thinking deeply about things, I am a deep thinker and cannot really stop that from happening. It just means that I won’t be writing out those reflections on this blog right now. Eventually I will, and hopefully I will have some cool things to tell you about this sweet time of stepping back. It also doesn’t mean that I won’t keep writing, writing is a fun and beneficial hobby for me. It just means that I will be writing about some lighter things, reflecting on sweet or funny life events, and keeping records of happenings that I want to look back and remember one day.
I am sorry if that disappoints you (self, friends or readers), but you know… that’s ok. Maybe I need to disappoint you a little. I think that would be good for me.