In which I am learning to relax into this relationship

I’m trying to stop striving. You know, trying harder. Always trying harder. It’s down right exhausting. I don’t know if it’s the older sibling thing, the Canadian-Scotch-Irish thing, the prairie kid thing or the evangelical Christian thing but sometimes it’s hard to let go of my need to FIX IT and MAKE IT BETTER and EVERYTHING WORKS OUT AS LONG AS YOU TRY HARDER.

Striving to be more and better, do more and be better. All this pressure on us, right? To be the over-achieving freaks, we value the Hero more than the Servant.

A few years ago, I was reading and this passage jumped off the page and down into my bones.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me
and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk
me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of
grace. I
won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with
me and you’ll
learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Then last week, I heard a phrase on the God Journey podcast. They characterized the Christ-centered life as a life that you relax into, that this – this relationship, this following of Jesus – is a relationship that we relax into. We cease the striving. We stop the trying. We stop trying to be better, smarter, nicer, more holy and more loving. Instead when we surrender, we relax into the arms of Jesus, we find that freedom, of living lightly. In our weakness, He is able to become stronger.

I wonder sometimes if we are holding our lives, clenched in our fists. When we unclench our fist, our hands are free for God to use. When we unclench our hearts, our hearts are open to Jesus.

I should have known I was getting ready for an opportunity to practise this.

I have felt the need to unclench my soul a bit these days. To let go of some things I’ve been holding onto. Then a situation arose this week that put me to the test.

It’s a financial situation which is never fun. And when it started to unfurl, I felt my back seize up, my physical body almost manifesting the stress I felt in my heart. I clenched my fists and seized control, worrying and letting it consume me. I became discouraged and heavy.

Last night, this passage of Scripture rose up again out of the ashes to wrap around my striving. What would be the difference if I trusted Him purely, truly? If I believe that this, too, is not escaping his notice or his plan? If I lived my life, like He loves me?

And I let go, finger by finger, knuckle by knuckle. Allowing God into the cracks of my worry and cares, trying to release my spine from the clench of fear and worry.

He cares for me. His burden is light. Really, truly. I can relax into this, too.

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  • jill rosalie

    I completely relate to this entry! Substitute German for Scottish, and you described me! The whole theme of "rest" and "relax" have been mine for many years now! I nearly weep every time God reminds me of this, the feeling of relief is so intense for me! I think I'm a bit better then I used to be, but likely this will be an ongoing lesson for me my whole life! One of my favorite verses is:

    Psalm 131:2 (New International Version)

    2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
    like a weaned child with its mother,
    like a weaned child is my soul within me.

  • Brenda

    I know exactly what you mean. Recently I had a big financial burden concerning my financial aid for school, and it was made even worse because I'm so far away and I could not send and sign forms as easily as I could back home. I literally spent months in waiting and emailing and being anxious until I just surrendered and said, "Lord, I can't handle this. Please take care of this."

    And my entire tuition is paid for. :)

    This is unrelated, but today I learned that Jesus is a God of resurrection, not of prevention. Just as he let Lazarus die and then resurrected him (even after Martha said "how dare you not get here in time! He's dead now!") Sometimes we have to go through things to experience the Lord's resurrection and gain him in that. How else would he open our hearts to him?

    I forwarded this post to a few of my friends. Have a great weekend!