Enough: my battle with the hustle, the stress, and the busy, and how I found rest

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It’s Saturday morning.

 

Rainy and chilly, I tiptoe across the living room carpet, coffee in hand, hair thrown haphazardly into a messy bun. I breathe.

 

After a week of running fast and hard, it’s finally quiet. No more hustle. Just me. It’s a refreshing change of pace, but I find my mind spinning with thoughts to make up for the lack of stimulation in tasks, math problems, and meals to cook.

 

I think about how much I absolutely adore New York City. I love the noise, the lights, the crowds, the pace. I’m enamored with the culture, the resilience, the opportunities.

 

But maybe, sometimes, I identify with it a little too much? I fill my life with faster, louder, more, more, more. I say YES and tack more onto my to-do list, put more friends and meetings on my calendar, apply to serve in my church more and more and more and more – and then I collapse. Hard.

 

Because I tell myself I can’t rest, I shouldn’t take the time to be refreshed. And it’s not as though I don’t rest – just that often, those times are laden with feelings of guilt.

 

Because don’t I need to do more? Be more? Write more? Work more? Study more? Sing more? Don’t I need to prove that I can be independent, capable, and strong? That I can meet people’s expectations?

 

Don’t I need to prove that I’m enough? Continue reading

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How the Done List Saved My Sanity & Refreshed My Faith

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If you couldn’t tell from any of my previous posts, I’m one of those classic Type-A, list-writing, goal-driven, oftentimes perfectionistic girls.

 

I’ve written about how much this affects my life – about how it’s caused me to struggle with accepting grace, accepting my worth, and living fully, freely, wholly.

 

But this year, this 2017, I’ve implemented some things into my life that have helped me make grace tangible, my faith just as a part of my life as every other thing on my lists.

 

And the first thing is my Done List.

 

Many people in the world have to-do lists; whether chicken-scratched on a loose scrap of paper, dictated into Evernote, or perfectly printed in a notebook, we’re all familiar with the concept. It’s our own human way of organizing our lives, of creating little goals with checkboxes and a dose of self-motivation thrown in.

 

But I don’t use to-do lists. I use something called a Done List.

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Returning Again to The Everlasting Promises

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I’m back to the beginning again.

 

It’s funny – sometimes I think I’ve got it all figured out.

 

I write these posts, I journal, I speak, I talk with friends – and sometimes, I feel like I’ve solved everything. Like I have all the answers, and that maybe, this time, I’ll really have control of my life.

 

Ironically, however, I think I’ve got it all covered and then I struggle again.

 

I write about true identity being found in Christ and yet I find myself playing the comparison game, over and over.

 

I write about hope in pain, and soon after I find myself, once again, stumbling in the darkness, losing faith in any light.

 

I write about living in grace and the very next day I battle overwhelming guilt and shame.

 

And here’s the kicker – all this leads to is more guilt.

 

There’s a whisper in my head, reminiscent of the Serpent in Genesis 3, saying, “Did God really say His grace covered everything?”

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When Your Soul is Longing to Be Enough

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Enough.

 

I have a love/hate relationship with that word; the whole concept of adequacy and fullness.

 

Because deep inside of me, there’s this longing to be truly enough…and an aching dread that I never will be.

 

I know that sounds extremely un-Christian and negative, so please do hear me out. This is something I think really needs to be addressed.

 

In a world that seems to require perfection, how can we, as imperfect humans, truly live freely?

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Jesus Has Made You Enough (Hebrews Bible Study: Week 10)

Jesus Has Made You Enough (Hebrews Bible Study- Week 10)

Welcome to the tenth week of our Hebrews Bible Study, everyone! This week we’re contemplating Hebrews 10, one of the fullest and most exciting chapters in all of Hebrews. I know I keep saying this, but Hebrews 10 is seriously another favorite chapter in this book.

 

Grab your favorite drink and a Bible, and come glean truth with us. You’re welcome to start right here, even if you haven’t read all (or any) of the previous ones. However, if you’d like to, feel free to read through the past nine weeks’, listed below.

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There Is Always Grace

There Is Always Grace

 

I’ve been really stressed out this week.

 

You’d think that for a girl who wrote about stress as the very first topic in her book, that I’d be all set.

 

But I’m not.

 

People that try to say that stress is nonexistent are wrong, because it totally does exist. And I’m wary to admit it, but stress does consume me sometimes, especially on weeks like this.

 

(I promise I won’t talk about my problems too much; I just want to give you guys some background.)

 

Most of you know that I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I was doing great, but then I had a week of driver’s ed.

 

That was all last week. Six hours a day, five days in a row, on what was supposed to be my vacation. It wasn’t terrible, it really wasn’t, but it completely sapped my energy and I wrote a total of 300 words in that entire week, when I can usually write 300 in ten minutes. A writing rut, folks.

 

*cue dramatic sighing*

 

Plus, I have some things going on Friday through next week and I’m a little frazzled.

 

Well, maybe “a little” is an understatement. But I digress.

 

The point I want to make here is that as Christians, we try to come up with all these “cures” and “reliefs” for stress, when in reality, we’re only masking the problems. Things like “believing harder” or “confessing our sinfulness” or something.

 

We’re not really dealing with the issue of being stressed, we’re just telling ourselves that we shouldn’t be. But that isn’t fixing anything.

 

Before you write me off as super-religious, vague, and unhelpful, let me attempt to explain what I mean.

 

Stress, in and of itself, is not bad. In fact, it can be helpful when trying to achieve a goal. Deadlines are beneficial, and a little extra adrenaline never hurt anyone. Stress can motivate us to just do it.

 

But the scary part comes in when we’re so overwhelmed by stress that we let it overtake us. We let our feelings consume us and blind us to the hope we have.

 

Instead of letting stress dictate how we live our lives, we can live in grace. We can know that failing does not make us failures, as I wrote about on Saturday. We can know that we are loved no matter what we do, instead of thinking that our worth is based on our performance. We can know that nothing can separate us from Christ’s love.

 

I believe that much of our stresses revolve around having to get things done.

 

For me, this week, it’s studying enough for my test on Monday, completing 6,000 more words before Saturday, and juggling life on top of that.

 

Part of me is screaming “I CAN’T DO ALL THIS!” because it probably is too much, in the first place. But the other part of me is listening to the lies that are telling me it’s the end of the world if:

1) I fail my test,

2) I don’t get 6k written by the end of the week,

3) I miss another commitment,

4) I keep forgetting to respond to my emails,

5) I don’t write one blog post,

6) I let my friends down,

7) I don’t get to read quickly through the books people are depending on me to review.

 

I have this weight that’s pulling me down, because I feel like I have to do everything, and everything flawlessly. Is that possible? No. Do I make myself try anyway, and crush myself in the process? Why yes, yes I do. Is it smart or wise? Absolutely not. Do I know this? Yes, I do.

 

So what is wrong with me???

 

I have let stress overtake me and affect my thoughts.

 

I have decided to forget the truths in the Bible that remind me that I need not be perfect. I’ve forgotten the fact that my sins, NEVERMIND MY TEENY LITTLE MISTAKES, were all covered at The Cross. I’ve forgotten that the problems of the world are not my own, that I’m not responsible for other people, that it won’t kill off the world’s population if I take a little break from blogging.

 

God’s truths of grace and love do not depend on how well I live my life. If they did, I’d be in trouble. His grace stands in the places where I need it most, and His love endures when I feel the most unlovable.

 

Maybe I’m writing this post just for me today. Maybe I’m the only one that needs to remember that stress doesn’t have to control every hour of my life.

 

Maybe I’m the only one that needs a reminder of renewed grace for each day. Maybe I’m the only one that needs to be encouraged, especially when I do fail (because I’m very far from perfect).

 

Maybe I’m the only one that needs to be reminded to do MY best, and not necessarily expect myself to do THE best. I’ll do the best I can, but not beat myself up over what I wasn’t capable of.

 

But if that’s you too, please know that you’re not alone.

 

If you’re stressed out of your mind, I won’t try to “fix it,” I’ll only say this. You are not alone. You do not have to handle everything yourself; take some pressure off. And I promise, there is always grace for you.

 

*aj

A Journal Entry: Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

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For a while there, I *thought* I had it pretty good.

I’ve kept straight A’s, I guess I’m pretty smart. My friends call me a genius. (Trust me, I am not.) People tell me I’m talented, beautiful, and godly. I have a lot of friends, and I guess I can be pretty popular.

At least I turn in my assignments on time. I sit in the front row of every class and my teachers like me.

I read my Bible every day without fail, I teach Sunday school and youth group, and I’m on our youth group worship team.

So I’m pretty good, I thought. (Big mistake. Pride does come before a fall.) My life had become a checklist, and I was doing well. Or so I thought.

But God changed everything.

He said “no”.

“No, AJ, you can’t be good enough for me.”
“I’m not good enough? Just show me what to do!” I screamed.

And he said, “Do nothing, Amanda.”

And I cried “WHY?! You’ve blessed me with talent! With a brain! Aren’t I supposed to use it?!”

And he said to me, “You don’t need to be smart. You don’t need to be beautiful by the world’s standards. You don’t need to do all this for me, because my love for you does not depend on what you do. You are my child, and I love you. I sent Jesus to pay the price for your salvation. And I see HIM in you, not the things that you do. (See Colossians 2:10 “And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”)

“You are to do things for my glory, not for your benefit or to look good.

“Amanda, I love you anyway.”

He loves me anyway.

I’ve spent too many hours crying over feeling like I’m incomplete. But Jesus makes me complete. I’ve spent too many hours stressing over getting an A. But it’s not really that big of a deal. I’ve spent too many hours focused on me. And it’s not even about me. I’ve spent too many hours stubbornly worrying about my problems on my own…when I’m supposed to cast my cares on God because he cares for me. (See 1 Peter 5:7) What did I miss? Everything!

I’m not sure what I was trying to earn. Because I now realize that who I am in Christ has nothing to do with my performance.

And that was a relief to hear.

God doesn’t require us to be perfect. Perfection is impossible! He just requires us to abide in him.

And with his help, I can do that.

*aj