“But this is what I’ve learned the hard way: what people think about you means nothing in comparison to what you believe about yourself.”
Amen, Shauna Niequest. When I came to this sentence in “Present Over Perfect” I wanted to get out all the highlighters, mark it every color, and somehow engrave it deep down in my soul. Because this idea right here is why I’ve not cultivated a quiet life before now.
I mentioned in the last post the conviction I have that, before I can cultivate a quiet life, I must become very clear about two things: God’s love and my purpose. Failure to take God at His Word and believe I am deeply, faithfully, fiercely, and irrevocably loved by Him, I realize, has been at the root of my drive to perform. My quest for perfection. My preference for fast over slow. Loud over quiet. Instant production over slow cultivation.
I know that temptation to doubt God’s love has been around since Eden. Eve fell for it, so the enemy’s kept using that line. It’s probably somehow written into humanity’s DNA at this point, so I won’t beat myself up (any longer!) for falling for it.
Maybe it started before, but I know the flickering doubts were fanned into flames a few months after I graduated from college and went to work in Indianapolis for an organization I would now put in the “cult” category. While there I internalized some damning messages about myself: that I wasn’t good enough, couldn’t work hard enough, and had already failed to do what God had put me on earth to do: save the world. I know it sounds crazy … those who have been raised or exposed to legalistic teaching will understand, I think. We were told it was up to us to give the world “a new approach to life.” I remember being told I’d stand before God one day with blood on my hands, forced to watch as those I had failed to tell about Jesus were banished to the eternal fires of hell.
So, what do you do if you feel like you’re already behind on pleasing God and you’re terrified of facing Him and entering into blessing while those you’ve failed go to hell? If you’re like me, you put your nose to the grindstone and start to work. As hard as you can for as long as you can. And when your strength crumbles and your body breaks, you feel like a failure.
Choosing to cultivate a quiet life comes as a radical course correction because it can only happen when those damning lies are recognized, named, unpacked, and destroyed. And the only one strong enough to do it is the one who said so long ago: “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
What sweet peace … if I really believe it. For me, a packed calendar reflected the inner turmoil of knowing I was never going to be “enough” … but desperately wanting to be. When my health imploded all those years ago, I was devastated. But I know now it was evidence of grace. It was God saying,
“Precious Daughter, this burden you’re carrying is not from Me. And, I’m not going to let you self-destruct. It’s time to begin learning how to live well again.”
Have you ever considered the lies that might be driving you to a faster pace? Will you accept the grace to believe the truth? Let’s wrestle with this, and yield to it, together.