On a recent episode of Your Hope-Filled Perspective Podcast, I chatted with Patty Scott about how to cease striving in order to thrive. If you missed that episode, you can listen here: How To Overcome Overwhelm – Episode 68. We talked about the pressure to not only do more, but do better, and how that goal is so elusive and in fact, damaging. We barely scratched the surface, so I asked Patty to share more here about how ceasing striving is the key to thriving.
Read to the end for a two book giveaway!
How Ceasing Striving is the Key to Thriving
By Patty H. Scott, M.A.
God moves incrementally and intimately. His purposes are greater than we usually see at first glance. Recently, I have been reflecting on the growth I have experienced in the area of finding my rest in Jesus.
I’ll fill you in a little about how bad things were so you can see the bigger picture of what God has done—and know He will do this for you too. I’ve always had a propensity toward perfectionism in my flesh. I’m not talking about a healthy aim towards improvement and growth. Instead, I drove myself into the ground trying to eliminate anything that wasn’t flawless. Of course, much of this came about as a result of growing up in a home where criticism came at me daily. I felt I could never reach the mark. Somehow, I developed this warped idea: If I can be nearly perfect, you will love me more. In other words, I was going to fend off others’ rejection before they had a chance by leaving them nothing to criticize and nowhere to find fault.
In truth, we obviously can’t become perfect—and we surely can’t even muster anything like flawlessness on our own. Over the years I lived a life that was dominated by busyness. I believed I had to do all the things and do them well. My performance-based lifestyle bore the fruit of overwhelm and burnout.
God never leaves us where He finds us. He is mindful of our frame (Ps 103:14) and He knows what we lack and how He intends to free us (Gal 5:1). God stepped into my busy, self-reliant life and bit by bit has drawn me into greater dependence upon Him, receptivity to His love, and the capacity to let go and, as He says, cease striving.
Often, we have to come to the end of ourselves before we are willing to make a change. The things we use as defense mechanisms to shore up our fragile places have to fail us. When perfectionistic performing began to cause me more pain than blessing, I started looking honestly at my heart and lifestyle. Through a series of events, I found myself examining the roots of why I stayed so busy. As I did, I started to learn more about God and what His love really means to me. He began to show me how deeply He loves me—as is, not based on what I do, what I will do, what I’ve done, or any other behaviorally based measure of worth.
I am worth the cross. You are too. Jesus says there is no condemnation for us now that we are in Him (Rom 8:1) and that means we can’t find even an eyedropper’s worth of rejection. As a matter of fact, He says nothing can snatch us from His hand (John 10:28), and that means we can’t fail or be rejected by Him.
One of the roots of my busyness was a deep-seated fear of rejection. God assures us that His perfect love casts out our fears (1 John 4:18), but that love doesn’t cast out our fear from afar. We are called to abide in His love (John 15: 9), invited to make His love our very home—the place where we dig our roots in, get comfortable, return to, and feel most ourselves. My journey has been one of growth in opening up to God’s love and grace. It’s not a one-and-done event. We make progress over time in allowing God’s love to seep into places where we formerly relied upon ourselves.
As I have become more open and vulnerable to His love, I have been able to release my need to prove myself or to work to earn what He has already given me. In other words, I have incrementally ceased striving.
Through the Psalmist, in Psalm 46:10, God says “Be still and know I am God.” Those words, be still, mean to cease striving. Stop doing things on human power. Stop trying to run the show, control the outcome, prevent fears from becoming reality. Instead, we know. We know He is God—in control, aware and involved in outcomes, quelling fears, and walking through darkness bringing light and hope.
Most recently, during shelter-in-place, I had about a month when I went into a funk. I could only muster the energy to do the minimal things like cooking supper or meeting defined deadlines. I kept procrastinating other tasks, and in the process, my guilt mounted. I started to avoid prayer and didn’t feel eager to read the Word. One day, after feeling myself drift from God, I turned to Him and told Him how hard my procrastination had been wearing on me. I got a distinct sense that He said, “I love you even though …” He was showing me that His love went deeper than my to-do list, my achievements, or my capacity to keep up with demands. Of course, I know this in my head, but through this experience, He embedded that truth deeper into my heart.
As I allowed the truth of His love to pervade me, I began to feel revived. I started taking up the tasks I had set aside. I caught up. But, more importantly, my burden had already been lifted when I turned to God and shared it with Him. He has been walking me out of the cage of self-reliant busyness into increasing grace and joy ever since I committed my life and heart to Him many years ago. This most recent experience peeled back just one more layer and drew me even nearer to Him and His incredible love for me.
A life centered in not striving doesn’t mean we sit around doing nothing. I have been energized and stay busy all day. I say there is a difference between being overly busy and properly busy. When we heal the broken roots of our busyness, we can do many things without feeling burdened by them. I have been freed up to do what I am called to do, leaving outcomes and provision up to God. The way we see our role shifts dramatically when we cease striving and allow our activities to be motivated as Jesus’ were—He only did what He saw the Father doing. (John 5:19)
If you are struggling with performance-based living, or you find yourself doubting the love of God for you, know that His love is not based on what you do, but who you are. Remind yourself of His grace. Recite verses that speak truth into places where you have believed lies. God will continue to draw you toward a life rooted in His love and void of self-reliant striving.
How have you struggled with striving? And what helped? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
About Patty H. Scott
Patty writes, speaks, and coaches to encourage your heart, to share effective and transparent parenting tips, and to walk alongside you as you grow as a woman and a mom. Her writing is conversational and approachable. She shares from the heart to the heart. Patty and her husband have two boys aged 11 and 18 and a foster daughter who is now 21.
Patty loves coffee dates with friends, ministering to women, escaping into a good book, kayaking on the ocean, and taking spontaneous road trips. Her home and table are an intentional place of welcome.
In conjunction with this post and the podcast interview How To Overcome Overwhelm – Episode 68, Patty Scott is giving away a free copy of her book, Slow Down, Mama: Intentional Living in a Hurried World as well as a copy of the accompanying devotional, Slow Down, Mama: Thirty-One Days to Help You Slow and Savor. (One book each to two winners.)
Leave a comment below sharing with us one thing you’ve learned about leaving behind busyness and perfectionism for a life of grace and joy and you will be entered into the contest. One winner will be chosen for the book. A second winner will be chosen for the devotional.
You could also share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing.
The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, August 10, 2020, here on this post. Continental United States only.
(If there are affiliate links in this post, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you)).