Danger in the Hustle

“Hustle hard” rings as the anthem of this generation.  “Make your life what you want it to be. ” “Be your own hero.” Good intentions or not, this anthem is all over the place these days.  Kings and queens of this generation are writing books, hosting conferences and podcasts and preaching daily through insta-stories that “you are standing in your own way to success.” 

Yes, discipline and grit are great qualities to have in your life.  But to what end. To build a life on your own efforts and capabilities?  To work toward that American dream? To be the queen of your own kingdom? But we see, “kingdoms” fall all the time, so we know that it is a lie that we are sold since birth.  

The funny thing is that I am really good at hustle.  I am really good at building a schedule full of activity and making things happen.  However at some point that system stopped working for me. Being capable and maybe a little stubborn, ended with me dragging myself out of bed and trying to white knuckle through the day. 

Because, those qualities that helped me lose 90 lbs and run 4 half marathons, while getting 2 masters degrees, didn’t actually fix what was broken.

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On the other side of a decade of doing that, I find myself clinging to a shred of the vision that I once had for my life.  And honestly, at 23, I was just excited to have a job and live near all my friends. I never really thought what 10 years later would look like.  

I spent a lot of that time, pushing forward, living under guilt and shame… manipulating myself into thinking if I just lived more disciplined, more self controlled, more busy, my life would mean so much more.

Now, at the beginning of a new decade, I sit wondering, what IS IT really that I am living for?  What is the thing that is going to drive me forward, get me out of bed every day? Let’s be honest, that is what we ALL ask ourselves on some level every day, what is the point? Who are we sacrificing our time, energy, and life for?  Whose agenda are we trying to accomplish on a daily basis?

See, I have had this nagging feeling that I was trying to settle for the American dream (a happy, content, safe life, building up financial security, and building up a career), which might be the worst thing that could happen for me.  Those things in of themselves are not bad things, but not ultimate things. 

Now, I am not saying that hard work is bad.   I am not saying that you don’t suffer or benefit from good choices in life.  But there is something underneath this message that I think weighs heavier on our souls.  Hustle will only take us so far and deludes us into thinking that we are sovereign over our own life in the end.  Hustle is a drug that we take to try to distract ourselves from having to trust in our heavenly Father.

In college, in studying ancient Orators, such as Plato and Aristotle, I came across idea that human beings were constantly searching after the divine, because human beings were mortals split from a divine being and were were constantly searching for the other half.

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My heart, my body, my soul, and my mind crave more.  I wasn’t made for this earth and as much as I hustle and work hard, if I am doing it to make a more comfortable home on this earth, I will always feel a little like I am trying to settle into an alien home.

“Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” – Heb. 11:12-13

In the midst of this restlessness, my mind has been my own worst enemy, hurt and pain from the past is resurfacing, calling out for healing, that I have long ignored or pushed aside to survive.  But now, as I push in to the restlessness my brain is crying “Danger Danger” often causing me to shrink back, to escape to numb myself from these feelings. I am heading towards the more for which He has for me and my flesh senses that there isn’t certainty or safety.

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Can I risk my safety, can I stop hustling,  and trust that God is good?  Can I trust this restlessness to move me towards good things and not toward danger?  This is the hard part, because I can’t hustle my way out of it.  I can’t make a to do list and check things off and think it settles the restlessness.  This is a matter of trust and patience. 

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD! -Psalm 31:24

We don’t like to wait, we don’t like to be still.  Even though it is instructed many times in scripture.  We want to make things happen on our own.  We want to hustle hard to make our life in the way that we think is best.  We dream and plan from our own strength and vision.

Friends, go ahead and hustle but also sometimes wait on and have courage in the Lord.  Remember that a life based on patience and trust in God is a life full of an eternal contentment that can’t be obtained in hustle or working hard, but given in grace and mercy that we don’t deserve, but because he loves us in an abundant unrelenting way.

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

 

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The Problem We Can’t Fix

photo credit: Dutch sceneries (Winter edition) The long stretch via photopin (license)

It isn’t the answer, it isn’t the fix for the problem.  The baby, the boyfriend, the success, the promotion, the accolades, your grown children’s lives.  It isn’t what will make everything better.  Maybe for a brief moment.  But not really for the long haul.

In discussions with friends in longing, in waiting, in pain, wanting something to happen, wanting God to change the situation, I hear the whisper, “The answer you want isn’t the answer you need.”
Those things that we want aren’t the solution.  I know it, to the depths of my soul, I know it.  I know that those things that we expect, hope for, wait for, and want so badly,  the circumstances we want to change, aren’t what we need at all.
God knows this.  It isn’t like he is an angry parent, holding out on us just to punish us.  He is the opposite.  He is the loving father who is going to give us exactly what we need when we need it.  
He knows our hearts long for things, for good things.  For things that we place in a higher priority than him.  But sometimes that is why he doesn’t give them to us.  That is why we wait.  I like to think that all knowing God, has more of an understanding of what I need than I do. 
More than anything else, he longs for us to depend on him first.  To look to him for the solution, for the supply of our every need.  More than we long for the kid, the house, the relationship, he longs for us to put everything we have in him, to place all our bets on him, and go all in.  
He longs for us to depend fully on him, to look to him before all else.
Not to say this always looks like this in people’s lives, sometimes our prayers aren’t answered because we live in a broken and fallen world. But often he keeps us in waiting, so that we know what we are actually waiting for.  
I see it in Abraham and Sarah, Joseph, Moses, and all over the Psalms. You see it in so many stories in the bible, and the bible as a whole. The waiting and the longing for a fulfill promise, waiting for Christ to come.
And in this time of year we feel it more, don’t we, the longing, the waiting. This season highlights the unanswered prayers, the hurts, the longings in our souls. 
Sure, a change in circumstances might ease the longing for a while.  It might seem like everything has lined up, but that feeling of discontentment will come back, the longing for the child might be replaced with something else.
Ultimately, it means that I can certainly place my identity in my circumstances, but my circumstances will change and then my identity will be shaken.  I need to place my identity in something that will not change, that is the same then, now and forever.
So, I am not waiting in this season of singleness, so that I learn how to be a good wife, or get my crap together, but because He longs for me to depend on Him, to throw myself in Him.  So that I won’t confuse the answer to my prayers, so that I will know that it is him that answers and not I as the one in control.
Friends, it is possible that we long for good things, we long for things that God could and will give us eventually.  But in that longing and waiting, that is where the transformation of the heart takes place.  

With or without the answer to your prayers, He will still be the same God and He loves you no more or less.  
More than anything he longs for our hearts to be turned to him.  He longs for our lives.  In his perfect understanding, he knows what takes our hearts and lives from him.  Those things that we want so badly, easily draw our hearts away. 
Friends, I write this because I know.  I know what it looks like to long, and wait, and hope.  I see it in the lives of loved ones, the longing, the waiting, and the hoping that today will be the day that the prayer gets answered. 

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. 
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”
Psalm 62:5-7 ESV

BUT God in his perfect wisdom, will take care of us in that longing, just as he did Abraham, and the Israelites, and many others.  He will give us exactly what we need and exactly the right time.