It’s 11:20, and as usual, I’m late. Rushing to get everything together so that I’ll be ready for work, my evening class, and going to the gym after, I realize as I’m putting things in my car that I left my lunch upstairs. There goes another two minutes. Silently berating myself, I rush upstairs to rush back, to rush Little Red through the Nashville-Franklin traffic.

It feels like the past few weeks have been nothing but that—a rush. Rushing to figure out what I’m doing after I graduate. Rushing to complete business proposals for classes and projects for work, rushing to make time for the people I care for the most, rushing to still remain relevant in the obscurity of senior year, rushing, rushing, rushing. Life is like the treadmill I place myself on every Wednesday, except this time somebody has pushed the speed dial past my limit and it is all I can do to keep my fumbling feet moving forward, so I can get to the next step, and the next step, and the next one…

When did everything become so complicated? As I’m sitting in my car, anxieties and stress creep into my mind, and I physically find it a little hard to breathe. It’s as if I’m drowning. It seems like the only thing I can think about is the eternal to-do list of my life, which keeps refreshing itself every time I cross one thing off. When does it ever stop?

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I turn on my Spotify during my drive in an attempt to calm myself and after a few songs, the familiar hymn “In Christ Alone” comes on. It’s a contemporary version, but the words are the same:

In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song.

This cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace.

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease…

That last line caught me. I’ve heard this song hundreds of times before, but never did the word striving seem to be so poignantly relevant. All I’ve done the past few weeks, and probably my whole life, is strive.

The dictionary defines strive as  “to make great efforts to achieve something, to struggle or fight vigorously.” There are so many things I am trying to achieve—finding a good job and living into my purpose, making time for family and friends, creating an identity for myself, feeling a sense of satisfaction and purpose in my life. But the thing about striving is that there’s no finality. Striving doesn’t have an end point—you either succeed or fail, but then you’re on to striving towards something else. It’s a struggle within one’s self to keep pushing, reaching, grasping…if only we could reach a little higher, be a little stronger, show a little more drive…

Why do we strive? I think the author of “In Christ Alone” placed the words “fear” and “strivings” in the same phrase for a reason. So many of our strivings are not rooted in purpose but rather in fear.

If I don’t work for this project, I’m afraid I won’t get a good grade. If I don’t start my applications now, I’ll never get into grad school and will end up sleeping on my parent’s couch. If I don’t make time for social event X, my friends will forget about me and I’ll end up alone. If I don’t do this, then this…

Our strivings are our own frail human attempts to conquer our deepest fears—about the world around us, the people we know, but most especially, about ourselves.

When does it ever stop?

Go back to that song again—whoever wrote this probably had a lot going on in their lives. They probably felt inadequate in a lot of ways and were striving like mad to get out of it. But that’s not what this song is about. It’s full of assurance:

In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song.

This cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace.

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease,

My comforter, my all in all, here in the love of Christ I stand.

This song has nothing to do with the writer and everything to do with God. Placed in the context of trust, the pressure to be all of these things to ourselves dissipates. He is light when I cannot see. He is strength when I am weak. He is solid ground when I don’t know where to put my feet next.

It’s in the height of God’s love and depths of His peace that we find our answer. We will never reach the finish line—as long as we have breath in our lungs there will always be another fear to run from, another thing to work for, another desire to prove our worth.

It’s impossible. I can’t do it. And thank God I can’t.

My identity is not in the things I do, the number of things I check off of a list, the amount of work I’ve done in my twenty years or the rest of my life. God promised to be all of those things before I took my first breath. He promised to still my fears and help me to cease my endless striving before it even began.

I am enough in God.

I am enough in God.

I am enough in God.

I am enough in God.

Releasing the responsibility for the course of my own life into more capable hands than mine brings instant relief. It’s as if I’ve just gotten the okay to be not okay. My strivings can cease when I realize that all I’ve ever done or not done could not make God love me more or less. I’m free to live a life not out of fear in trying to prove my worth but rather out of the incredible joy that I’ve found in my worth as God defines it.

I will probably still be late to work, and yes, figuring out how to balance the chaos that is in my life will always be a struggle. But that’s not who I am. And that’s absolutely okay.

You are more than your strivings. You are more than your fears. Breathe a little easier in knowing that you are enough.

Jeanette

 

 

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