So, what’s better…
Trusting God to see your dreams fulfilled?
Working your tail off to get you there?
Probably a little of both, right?
Each of us naturally leans to one side or the other. Where do you land?
How can we level out and embrace the tension between trusting God and trying hard to achieve a God given dream?
Birth of a Work Ethic
Two women raised me. One more than the other, obviously. But each welded her cast iron work ethic into my soul. She did so, not by drilling it into me, but by living it in front of me.
I would say childhood trauma burned it into her nature. But Im not sure.
They lost both parents within 3 years of each other.
Auntie Big Kat, our term of endearment, stood up from the childhood blow stretched out in warrior pose, pushing into the headwind of life and never retreating. I swear she will outlive me. 12 marathons under her belt, and never a tear spilled to physical pain. Not in front of me anyway.
My mom, the eldest, returned home from college in Santa Fe 3 years too soon.
And aging grandpa ‘with the Irish brogue’, (as mom would say), lived downstairs, and uncle, only 5 years old, still needed to be raised.
Life unraveled in an instant and, at only 19 years old, she frantically knit it back together. She plugged every hole and repaired every tear with pure survival instincts.
As the loss ripped apart their security, extended family tugged the frayed edges attempting to separate the siblings.
Tugging only made the family fabric tighten.
As a result of her instincts and grit the family stayed together, Grandpa slept his God-given last night in the sisters’ childhood home. And years later, Uncle walked out of that same house a man.
At 50 years old, Mom finally followed the dream she sacrificed at 19.
So, a solid work ethic is a family gift. I can hustle. Whether a noble purpose or nefarious plan (not the grit mom intended in my childhood years) I rush in. I hate failure.
On the other hand, trusting God isn’t something that comes as naturally to me. It requires slowing down, waiting, and resting.
Grit v. Patience
Hustlers are gritty go-getters. She doesn’t accept no or you can’t as an option. She flicks off distractions and maintains focus until the goal is achieved.
However, instead of seeing all distractions as an assault on our goal, patience perceives life, relieving our tunnel vision.
It restrains my hustle like tension on a dog leash. And it feels like a waste of time.
But so-called distractions can be limits God places in your path to slow us down, to redirect our hustle from one of goal oriented living to relational living or a good mix of both.
We have goals to achieve but we also have relationships to cultivate and people to love. Let’s not be too busy to love the people we live with.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22)
Work v. Rest
Hustlers endure pain. She presses into hard work, learning and perfecting a skill to reach her dreams. A hustler embraces the inner shaping process of learning. In fact, the banging around she experiences in her soul, as her character and skills build, inspires her. She digs in.
But for me, sometimes I get so caught up in working that I can’t think straight anymore. I’m not moving forward. I’m just scrambling in place. Im exhausted, hooked by the lie that something must me done right now or I’ve failed.
It’s in this place that we are vulnerable to unhealthy coping mechanisms and addictions.
Without trusting, hustling is motivated by a fear of losing. And a hustler will pay any price to avoid it.
When a pure hustler slows down, she feels like she is sinking. Trust says, stop here and float. You will not drown, just catch your breath and rest. Regroup and recharge. Slow down and breathe in rhythm with God’s breath; this resets our vision and clears our thinking.
We unclench our fists and relax our jaws. We hear the sounds of trickling streams in our soul. Peace wanders in. You will do it, He says inside our hearts. We can sit and wait to hear God in a position of unrushed trust.
In this place, all the scrambling we were doing before hushes. We clearly hear a voice inside saying, this is the way. Do this one thing today. Or wait here for a while and breathe Me in.
Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:21)
Satisfaction v. Humility
Satisfaction experienced from a completed task is a welcomed reward and a great motivator.
I love to achieve. It makes me feel alive. On the other, a failure or missed opportunity sinks my view of myself.
But God doesnt want us to measure worth by achieved goals or failures. Fighting hard to be the best at something is noble. But more noble than that is fighting our pride, our instinct to be number one and, instead, step up onto the lap of God the Father.
On His lap we hear His voice say, well done. Rest here. Keep going. Or don’t do that now.
We will achieve far more staying connected to Him and His community than by running off in our own strength and wisdom.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Setting and achieving goals is a gift. But the goal is not the focus of our devotion. He is.
Still confused what side to lean? Grit or Patience? Work or rest? Satisfaction-seeker or humility?
Welcome to the tension.
Leaning into the ebb and flow of trusting and trying keeps us connected to God. It keeps our dreams out in the open between God and us, instead of gripped between our hands.
Love God. Dream Big. And Go For It.