“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.
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.
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.