This post has been a long time coming. Frankly, I'm thankful for a little meme going around social media right now, because it speaks so much truth. You know, this one?
It sums up conversations with girlfriends and my own thoughts on this subject. By subject, I mean self-help, personal development, self-improvement, New Year/New Me, this constant hum to be more...the labels go on. In the words of James Brown, "Papa's got a brand new bag". Why not leave it at the meme if it sums everything up? Oh, you know I can't do that. You're funny. I'm an explainer. I can't help it.
So let's unpack. My husband and I are not trendy people. If you know us, this is fairly obvious. I was eating kale in the professional world of alternative healthcare and nutrition many moons ago, way before kale was cool and people wore shirts saying "kale yeah". I've read stacks of personal development books for work and enjoyed many of them. We Marie Kondo'd our house three years ago before Facebook and Netflix introduced Marie to the masses. Now, we're plant-based for health reasons and I'm reading that 2019 has been dubbed by some as "The Year of the Vegan". Ha!
Many of these things have been awesome changes for our family, namely simplifying our possessions/life (hats off to Hurricane Harvey for speeding the process up) and going whole food plant-based. Kale is now practically a celebrated member of the family. I am also a goal-setter and can be be fairly driven when I've got my eye on a goal. This is part personality, but also part of the learning process brought to me by personal development books on setting goals and going after them. In fact, this blog was the result of a goal I pursued ten years ago.
All of these things can be awesome!
However, every one of these endeavors provide only temporal relief if you're trying to fill the gaping hole that can only be filled by Jesus. Over the years I've read books, articles and blog posts by thought leaders in each of these areas and learned much from them, but so often they fell flat. Why? Because most were missing the only thing that matters: Jesus.
Our hope can be placed in so many other places.
The guy or girl you're hoping to date. For that matter, your spouse. The house that has the perfect square footage, amount of possessions, all in beautiful order. The body and makeup that's magazine perfect. The ride or die friends and tribe. The successes of your children (ouch). The big career that you've been dreaming of, if you can only just get up one more rung on the ladder. Esteem and a reputation. Enough money to be comfortable, to take this or that vacation and provide a certain lifestyle for our kids. And then a little more just to be safe. Security. I can list a million different things that we interchangeably chase after depending on the season. Putting my hope in each one a little at a time. Gaining a little short-term happiness boost and then as it wanes, moving on to the next thing.
It seems like the current message when life gets hard is "Well you're just doing it wrong, try my way." or "try harder". Yet when it comes to the only thing that matters, it's not about working harder. Can we all just breathe with this? You're enough, because He is enough. Can I get a Braveheart cry of "Freedom!
I'll say it again, these can all be awesome endeavors! When they're used to know and serve Jesus. If they help you do the assignment that God has given you more wholeheartedly and effectively? Go for it! Does better nutrition and exercise make you more capable of being a better mom or dad and increase your ability to pour more energy out and into others? It's worth a little time! Does order and simplifying your life make you more efficient and less distracted? Free some time up to pour into Scripture? Yes? Marie Kondo it up, my friend.
But put your hope and trust in Jesus. Marie has a few great answers for tidying up your sock drawer, which trust me, is a beautiful thing. But Jesus? He has answers that bring you abundant LIFE. (see the Bible)
It's not about controlling our environment to the nth degree so that everything is perfect.With Jesus, we can have everlasting joy, no matter the circumstance. When our health is failing. When our people are being people and failing us. When we forget to drink 8 glasses of water because we were busy trying to clean up the 10 glasses our toddler spilled that morning. When we make mistakes. When we fail. When our efforts aren't noticed. When our efforts aren't working.
It's about being at peace in the chaos and disorder, not necessarily about removing the chaos and disorder. You might as well say being at peace in life. Life is the mess because it includes the world. "But take heart, I have overcome the world."
We can do all the right things, the good things...yet miss the only thing that matters. Jesus is enough.
And it's ok if you don't like kale. Girl, just wash the spinach.