Try Harder

My mentor and I settled in with Panera coffee and classical music in the background. Truly, I love this time away from kids, away from duty, away from the nagging internal voices that demand me to try harder. Allison somehow possesses the gift of listening and challenging, all the while leaving the receiver empowered and edified. She leans in and asks me the probing questions that till up my heart and lay the ground bare for further planting and watering. 

We wrestle through all aspects of life (mothering, teaching, writing, leading), and then she inquires, “So, what are you thoughts and feelings around your grandmother’s death?” Seeing her die overturned some emotional soreness from seeing her son (my own dad) die three years prior. But truthfully, the overarching response to her departure hitches onto jealousy: anytime a believer leaves this broken world for the complete one, I feel a tinge of envy. They are done struggling, done with the mess of feeling broken, in body and spirit.

I clarify, “I’m not suicidal. I’m just tired…tired of the messiness. Tired of the questions and struggle.”

She responds, “Tired of fighting the good fight.” 

Essentially, yes. 

As we talk, I realize how pitiful it sounds. How my perspective and heart need some altering. After all, my life carries so much ease and blessing. I may feel under attack, but I don’t know what it means to suffer–really suffer. The majority of my issues stem from expecting more from myself than I can acquire. Get it right; work harder; find the answers; be more!

The law works fear and wrath; grace works hope and mercy. ~ Martin Luther

It’s almost as if God is denying my ability to perceive success in any area of life. Knowing how much I value accomplishment and results, He’s said, “Nope, you aren’t going to find your identity in that.” When I can’t look to my abilities as a wife, mother, home-school parent, professor, leader, or writer nor measure any advancement or reward, I eventually turn back to my Creator and say, “Okay, what now? Where do I find my assurance and completion?” 

When failure bombards me, I know that success rests in Him. I’ve gotten so far off course that now I’m searching for security in me again and what I can do well. That was never God’s intention for His children. He wants us to rest wholly in Who He is and what He’s done. 

Last night, as Allison was praying over me, she asked the Lord to return to me the joy of salvation (Ps. 51:12): that’s it, isn’t it? Whether our little worlds rise high or crash down in rubble, the joy of this life comes from Him and what He’s done in us. He loves us just as we are, broken but complete in Him.



I John 3:1-3

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

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