CATCHING MY BREATH
"Lay aside your agenda for a moment. Stop striving to relieve yourself of the burdens that plague you. Rest, dear sister. Rest in the secure arms of your heavenly Father, who set your story in motion before time began."
Today I decided to take a break from all the "doing" and just "be". I'm always amazed at how God brings just the right book into my life at exactly the time I need to read its wisdom. My latest divinely appointed book is Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Alsup. The above quote was taken from it.
I've been knocking myself out with accomplishing things. I'm falling into the trap of believing that my value comes from what I do and how busy I am. That's the message of our culture. But it's a lie. Today I realized what I've been doing and I decided to spend the day catching my breath and hanging out with God. He reminded me that my value comes from who I am, not what I do, and who I am is a beloved child of God. Today He invited me to rediscover that.
Chapter 10 of Alsup's book is a chapter every woman should read. It's about finding our identity in Christ. She starts the chapter with this question: "Where do you find your identity? If you have a blog or a MySpace page, what does it reveal about how you define yourself? How do you introduce yourself when someone asks, "What do you do?"
A few days ago someone asked if I was working. I said, "Just at home." Why I felt the need to add the "just" to my response is another example of being tainted by the culture I live in, a culture that has shunned the value of homemaking. The message I hear day after day is that if I'm not busy outside my home, then I'm not valuable. It's difficult to ignore that message even though I know it's untrue. So I decide that I'd better get busy. And then I make sure to let people know that I'm busy so I can prove my worth.
Unfortunately, I'm not the only woman who does this. As you're reading this you might be having a revelation of your own. Maybe you, too, need to catch your breath and connect to the real source of your identity--the one who created you.
It is God's opinion of me that matters, not what others think of me. I know that, but I still get sidetracked into thinking I need the approval of people. I think it's something many of us do. "Many Christian women weigh their words, obsess over their clothes, and attempt to control big and small circumstances around them in an effort to build their reputation. They are constantly on guard for new strategies to make others think better of them," says Alsup.
Talking about how busy we are and how successful we are is one way to build our reputation with people. I know a woman who talks constantly about her business and her accomplishments. She even mentions dollar amounts and her latest awards or promotions. Just listening to her makes me feel as if she's trying to impress me. But I'm not the one she should be impressing. I have no power to change her life or make it better.
God is the one we need to impress. I need to remember that, too. I'm also guilty of trying to make others think better of me. But the bible says that we must let go of our reputations and rights. We are called to humble ourselves, to forget about ourselves and instead serve God and serve others. We are actually supposed to think of others as better than ourselves. Not an easy thing to do. Especially in a culture that is so self-absorbed.
My sister is a professional artist and she struggles with the promotional aspect of her business. She knows that in order to sell her work she has to promote it. She has to get it out there for people to see. But she doesn't like promoting herself. She would rather hand that job over to someone else. But paying someone to do that wouldn't be practical.
I think it all comes down to our motives. If we promote ourselves and our accomplishments to impress others, that's not right. But if we promote ourselves in order to pay the bills or serve God in some way, that's a different story. Artists have to advertise their work if they want to sell it. That's just the way it is. What matters is that we keep our focus on God and His approval. Trying to win the approval of people is a waste of time, and it's downright exhausting. We need to rest in the secure arms of our heavenly Father. That's the only place that we can catch our breath and have peace.