Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Reach and Release
(The current prompt for my writing class is reach and release. I'm not sure if the following is the direction we were supposed to take, but it's what came out.)
I am a chronic reacher. If I feel a sense of accomplishment in any arena of my life, it's usually fleeting. Rather than be at peace with myself and my place in the world, I inherently struggle to do better and be better, driven by the unrelenting lie that I'm not enough (in any sort of way), but if I work really hard and do all the right things, I could be someday.
Being motivated and engaged with life is desirable to a point, but it's very easy for me to cross into destructive territory. Whenever I let down my guard against my striving tendencies, they take over quickly. I'm in a spiritual valley at the moment, and reaching is a big part of what put me here. Again. Any time I stop actively fighting it, reaching kicks me right down the spiral staircase of insecurity and hopelessness. I feel increasing guilt over being a small, regular person instead of someone who's radically changing the world (forgetting that everyone isn't meant to be a superstar). I decide that the things that are lacking in my life must be my own fault and failure, instead of part of an ultimately good plan. I decide that God is pleased with my friends, but disappointed in me… because of course, reaching seeps into my relationship with God like poison. The voices telling me what I owe God, and how much more He expects of me and my life, drown out the voices of grace. I know I have to do better – but I also know I don't have it in me.
Thankfully, I always collapse in on myself eventually and find grace again. I remember the parable of the talents, and the man who buried his money in the ground because he (wrongly) feared a harsh taskmaster – one who wouldn't tolerate not getting a full return on his investment. I think of the parable of the father who joyfully embraced his lost, filthy, worthless-by-all-accounts son. I remember that no matter what my circumstances, I don't have to earn God's love or worry about losing it. He loves me as I am, where I am. Unlike the rest of the world, He's not expecting me to perform or keep leveling up. He just loves me. And in the moments when I really take that in, I can release my need to achieve, and reach for grace. I can open my hands, because I never had anything in them to begin with.