No One Is Immune

 

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As I continue to reflect on my adult life that was often stressed, too busy, and left me tired in ways not replenished by a weekend of sleeping late or opting out of a committee or two, I knew a great deal about what was wrong and even some of the choices I made that brought me to that bone-tired frazzled place. A graduate program in clinical counseling reveals a lot of glaring things about yourself long before you sit down with your first client.

 

The hard part for me (and maybe you) was that the choices I made and the things I did were not bad things. In fact, they were good things that others were glad I was doing. They didn’t see the toll and for quite some time I didn’t see it either.

 

I would never have called myself especially prideful. I knew there were pockets of it, but I didn’t see it connecting to my busy, stressed, and tiring life.

 

Then when I was reading Hannah Anderson’s book, Humble Roots, she brought me into sharper focus.

 

 “But being busy with good things didn’t make me immune to pride. If anything, those of us who are busy “working for Jesus” may be the first to miss that we are struggling with pride because it can hide our good intentions.”

 

When I first read her words I felt something well up inside against such a suggestion. How could that be right? I was a Midwesterner who grew up with a strong work ethic and conviction about helping others and serving in our church. My parents were active in every area of the church and we were one of those families who were there Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday night at the very least. It was the model I grew up believing in and then lived as an adult.

 

A few pages after reading those words from Hannah, she added a bit more to broaden the picture (and conviction).

 

“Pride convinces us that we are stronger and more capable than we actually are. Pride convinces us that we must do and be more than we are able. And when we try, we find ourselves feeling “thin, sort of stretched…like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.” (From J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring) We begin to fall apart physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the simple reason that we are not existing as we were meant to exist.”

 

That description of Tolkien’s resonated for a chunk of my life when I was working and PICT0166going to school. The sad part was that it became an entrenched habit. I lost track of how to relax and be okay with doing nothing even for a short period. It happened progressively.

 

Rest was not a real part of my routine. There was always something to do or something I wanted to do. I had learned early in childhood laziness was not a good thing. I had also never learned to play, kick back, and relax. Those things felt awkward and foreign to me. Rest sounded slothful.

 

Yet, over and over Jesus admonishes his disciples (that includes you and me) to rest, to leave the cares of the world behind. What can be far too easy to miss is that He wants us to rely on Him more than we rely on ourselves. That means accepting the truth that I must be dependent on Him. It means when the body He created makes clear that I am tired, He wants me to rest. It means when the mind keeps spinning, He wants me to rest. It means when I can’t find a place on my calendar for one more thing, He wants me to step back and look at His life on earth.

 

He had three short years of ministry recorded in the gospels. Those of us in the current day would have developed a strategic plan and had our calendars crammed full. We see Jesus instead having time with friends like Lazarus, Mary, & Martha. We see Him enjoying dinner with others and going away to rest or pray when crowds were seeking Him out. What a clear contrast to us in ministry!

 

Hannah Anderson gives a good description of what too many of us experience on a regular basis.

 

“When we disregard our natural human limitations, we set ourselves in God’s place. When we insist that our voice and our work is essential and must be honored, we set ourselves in God’s place. When we believe that with enough effort, enough organization, or enough commitment, we can fix things that are broken, we set ourselves in God’s place. And when we do, we reap stress, restlessness, and anxiety. Instead of submitting to His yoke, we break it and run wild, trampling the very ground we are meant to cultivate.”

 

It can be easy to forget that the power of humility does not rely on its own strength, but trusts in the One who is powerful and infinitely resourceful.

 

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18 thoughts on “No One Is Immune

  1. I have to admit this post stings a bit. Although, I have made great strides I have a long ways to go. I agree pride can hide behind all of our good deeds. Thank you for writing such a though provoking post. I will be sharing it.

    1. The truth In reading Humble Roots created more than a little sting in me as well and it seems it is a continuous challenge to have the Lord keep my doing in check so that my being reflects more of Him.💕

    2. Thanks, Maree. I hope you know what I shared first stung me and reminded me of significant things the Lord wanted me to see about myself.😊

  2. Thank you dearest Pam For sharing Your wonderful truths and encouragement today. Yes, our Lord Jesus is the perfect example of how he wants us to live each day. Your words brought balm to my weary soul. Thank you from the top and bottom of my heart.
    💟💟💟

  3. I just LOVE this post because it is so true, and I have been there with the stretching too thin to function. I was so miserable trying to homeschool, clean, and cook for everyone. I’m so thankful it’s summer now!

    1. The sad truth is that it is true for so many of us and we do it so long that we barely notice what is happening. Have a blessed summer despite COVID🌹

  4. You give good advice, as usual, Pam. Pride is an issue that affects us all in so many ways, many of which we are blind to. More humility, Lord! I need more.

    1. It is a sneaky thing – pride – and humility is never something we can create, but rather must come from a sharper awareness of who God is and who we are and are not and why we needed a Savior.🌻

  5. I have never thought of this as a pride issue, but it is. Ouch. I was raised to work and not rest. And it was my husband who taught me to rest more. To take breaks during a project (why, I would think, we can rest when we are done at midnight), to just sit outside and swing and do nothing, and to actually take mental health days. We do need to rest physically, and rest in Jesus. Both are necessary for our well being.

    1. God bless your husband. When we are taught to work versus rest, it is a very enduring habit and one that is hard to break because it seems to bring rewards when we do and guilt if we don’t. Humility is the only antidote from Him that can remind us we are finite and limited and He designed us that way.🌸

  6. Oh man, Pam! You stepped on my toes! *grin

    Actually, I had a very big come-to-Jesus moment over this very topic this weekend. I had a free day – one with no interruptions. How did I choose to use it? By working like crazy! And now I’m starting the week worn out. You just confirmed what the Holy Spirit has been telling me.

    1. Jerralea, I think this happens so often to so many of us. Our bodies were not created for stress all the time. Our family’s various health crises have reminded me of that and my need to do more with self-care while caring about and for everyone else.💝

    2. I hear you! The Lord stepped on mine as well on the themes I wrote about here. I am humbled and blessed to know the Lord used this to confirm what the Holy Spirit was telling you.🌺

  7. Pastor Pam,
    Yes we rarely realize in our busyness to achieve our goals in life that we sometimes battle with the sin of pride! Through this time of isolation in this pandemic it often seems awkward to not be busy in our routines! Even in our service to our local church & community. Thank you for this reminder!💜

    1. All true, Adele! We are all guilty to some degree, I think, and it’s hard to stop because our churches, ministries, and communities keep asking us and when we say “no” for a short while, it creeps back in again.

  8. Oh wow, Pam. This is profound on so many levels. I see myself in far too many lines.

    I’m off to share your valuable wisdom, friend. I am grateful for your mentorship in my life …

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