I come to you grieved and struggling. I am not grieved at my struggle, yet I am simply grieved at the truth that I am enough. Sounds weird. I know. It sounds almost precarious and in need of a real problem. It’s not a real problem and I am aware of that, but track with me for a moment.
I inherited a lie that I can and should work hard to make something of myself. I believed that I should sacrifice everything, yes even my own happiness, in the name of success. I was taught to suck it up, do something, and work myself into the ground.
Then, God found me, struggling on.
I was new, fresh. I put all of myself, my old self, into God. I should volunteer for everything, be at the church every time the doors were open, and I should be joyful while doing it. If I started to resent it, and often I did, I would question my loyalty.
Then, God revealed to me His love.
I tightened my grip. If God loved me like that, then I would double my efforts. I would pray without ceasing, lead a bible study, and volunteer at a soup kitchen.
I have found myself tired, discontent, and angry at the guilt I feel toward this impossible role of being God’s child. And I wonder, is this all there is?
I have been living my life by the endless lists I have made. I have been measuring my success by the boxes I check. I have been content to struggle and to feel like I have to do more. I have been ensured that God is well pleased with me writing a book and letting you all in on my little corner of the world. “Job well done” has a nice ring to it. “You’ve worked so hard” is equally serving to sustain my identity as worthy.
But it doesn’t satisfy my hunger for intimacy. It doesn’t hold me close, protect my heart, or let me in on the great secret of the Scriptures.
That secret, plain as day, that I have searched for like the eyeglasses on my face is this: I AM thinks that I am, so I can just be.
This is my grief, that my identity is lost. I don’t know who I am apart from works. And while I sit here and learn to stop treading water and trust the Lord to keep my head up, I am learning something of the character of God. He is content to let me struggle.
In that revelation, I have a new appreciation for struggles and the process that we go through to get through them. If the Lord sees value in struggle, then I can try to as well. I can have confidence in the Lord’s decisions for my life. If He feels like joy is an inferior emotion for me in the moment, then I can learn to see things His way and agree with what the Lord is doing in me.
So, today I am thankful for the struggle. It is not joy that marks a child of God, but intimacy.