I approached the issue of tiredness and stress in my life in ways that I thought would be helpful because who likes to feel that way all the time, right? I knew I had some clues to work with and more than one symptom as well. I knew I did not get enough sleep on a regular basis and would try to make up for that on weekends by sleeping later on Saturday and taking a nap EVERY Sunday afternoon. That was a small reprieve, but not the answer. I read books and articles on diet, health, and exercise and they helped. I added some B complex to my supplement list and increased my intake of water, but that didn’t reach where I needed to be. I turned down some invitations and handed off some responsibilities, but that still wasn’t enough. Years of the “busy habit” had accumulated and there would be no easy way to deal with it.
If I am honest, I approached the spiritual side of the issue last because I didn’t recognize that it was where I would find relief. I worked in a Christian counseling practice for years and then on a church staff as well. A quiet time, a journal, and prayer were not missing from my life, but it was also true that I was not focusing as well on the times I sat with a cup of coffee to do those things.
I was overly responsible and the type of employee, friend, and ministry worker or leader that everyone loves because we show up when others don’t and we can usually be persuaded to do ‘one more thing’ because it is a good thing and “no one else can do it quite like you.” Yikes! Why do such words snag or appeal to us?
I would not want to simplify the answer to it, but one part of it that relates to what I wrote in my previous posts is how quickly and subtly pride can infiltrate a life even if we are trying to be humble. I am sure you have heard of the term ‘false modesty’, but in Hannah Anderson’s book, Humble Roots, that I have referenced in this series she has another term for that…the humble brag.
“A humble brag is a statement that initially sounds humble because it uses certain words like ‘humble’ or ‘thankful’ but ultimately it draws attention back to the person making it.”
One example might be: “I’m thankful (or humbled) to be able to use my gifting to serve in this ministry.” I could list more, but I can guess you get the drift of what I mean.
Of course, our pride shows up unbidden and sometimes obvious to others when someone congratulates us or wishes us well and we try to deflect those kind words because it would be prideful to accept them with a simple “thank you.” It might even show up when we talk about how “unworthy” we are to receive an accolade of some kind.
We get caught in those things because we have the mistaken idea that pride is something we can defeat and humility is something we can attain if we try. Hannah Anderson has a response to that as well in her book:
“But humility is not a commodity. It is not something you can achieve. It is not something you can accomplish. Being humble is something you either are or aren’t. And if you aren’t, no amount of trying can make up for it.”
Our actions, words, and attitudes give us away all the time!
The difficulty in gaining rest, peace, and humility is in part due to the truth that I/you need to set aside your own sense of identity. I need to set aside the identity of the person who always can be counted on to meet your need, the identity of the person who can always come up with a solution, the identity of the person who will never disappoint you or let you down.
If you read those sentences carefully you might discover what escapes our awareness. No one can be any of those except God. And the problem is that despite our best efforts we cannot imitate Him very well.
The only way we can, as Hannah Anderson observes (and I agree), find true rest is this:
“We too must be grafted. If we are to find rest from our stress, if we are to have any hope of escaping our pride, we must be grafted onto the one who is humility Himself. We can no longer be content to attempt to imitate Him; we must become part of Him in order to reflect Him.”