I’m very achievement driven. I always want to be working toward a new level of success. I want to hear God more clearly. I want to lead more effectively. I want love my kids more dearly. I want to be a more supportive friend. I want to run faster and further. I want to make a difference in this world. I want to bring the Kingdom here, until I’m in the Kingdom there.
And quite frankly, that is exhausting.
Yesterday I got home after a busy day at work, which including creating benchmarking reports, helping students apply for financial aid grants, and doing 400s on my lunch break (for those of you keeping up with the summer scorcher workouts, this week just do 400s…lots of 400s). I made Grady and I grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, while helping Han finish his homemade sweet potato and apple mush, then bathed both boys, read Grady his favorite book and then put him to bed. Han had spit up on me when I first got home, so I decided a quick shower was in order. On the way to the bathroom I thought about what I should do with the remaining hours before bed.
Should I clean the living room?
Should I do some more crunches?
Should I work on the article I’m writing?
Should I pack up the diaper bag for tomorrow?
And then I heard from the divine, “You can relax.”
I laughed, but then felt a very deep sense of relief. This might not sound spiritual, but sometimes the most meaningful thing you can do is relax and just be with the Lord in a hot shower. I know God loves me just the way I am. He made me ambitious and motivated and full of energy. But he also loves lifting the weight from my shoulders, letting me know He wants me to enjoy the beauty in just being, when all I could previously think about is doing, doing, doing.
Last week the ultra-distance runner stud, Krissy Moehl, set out to run the John Muir Trail, a 210 mile trek from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney (yes, that is a very long, tough trail, and yes, she is that awesome to set such a goal). While she aspired to break the fastest known women’s record of 3 days and 20 hours, Moehl stopped at mile 136 with major GI issues. She later posted on her Facebook page this excerpt from the Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko:
“But what if the idea of setting a record was ancillary, maybe even irrelevant, to the true goal? What if the summit on which you had set your crosshairs had absolutely nothing to do with trying to elevate yourself above another man’s achievements, and everything to do with forging a connection inside yourself — in this case a connection with the river and the canyon that might deepen the intimacy that bound you to both. What if the reward you were chasing lay not in the result which you were ostensibly striving, but in the simple doing of this thing?”
Wow. What beautiful words. And this message has been a theme in my life for a while now.
My good friend Chris Maxwell always tells me to not become so focused on the destination, that I forget to pause and enjoy the journey. All who heed this advice show great wisdom.
And the achiever in me still wants to quantify and justify. I think maybe it’s okay if my 28-year-old self has not yet earned a Ph.D, or written a best-seller, or made enough money to travel the world running races on my bucket list. Maybe I should have small goals for each month or week, to work towards the bigger picture. But that misses the point entirely.
I am going to pause. I’ll never stop dreaming, striving, planning, or playing. But I will remember the Author and Perfecter of my faith invites me to a life full of meaning, not characterized by never ending to-do lists, but by deep and intimate connection with my Savior. The relief of rest, the beauty of just being, that is the gift of life with the Holy Spirit.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”