I began summer with a lot of goals. Write one blog post a week, submit an article to a new publication once a month, read more blogs and books, all while perfectly maintaining the regular weekly activities. Starting out strong, I was dominating my plan and determined to stick with it. And then life got in the way… Helping plan my sister’s wedding became top priority, friends on summer break beckoned for coffee mid-day, and weekend plans jam-packed the calendar. Suddenly every moment was filled, and the time I had allotted for writing disappeared. And frustration bubbled. Instead of thoroughly enjoying time with my sister at the mall shopping for wedding shoes, I couldn’t get rid of the nagging feeling “I should be writing; I should be knocking things off my list.” Everything I was doing was good, great even, but what about my plan?! Constantly torn between what I “should” and could be doing, there came a cranky day where exasperation took over and I said, “you know what? I give up! I am the only one putting these limitations on myself so, forget them!" As quickly as those words left my mouth, a weight lifted off my shoulders – I was free. In those weeks of tug of war, it's as if God was saying to me – let it go sweet girl and focus on me! Embrace me, abide in me; be joyful. The rest can wait.
In an online class I took through the Influence Network, co-founder and author Jess Connolly spoke about this very thing. Titled “Abide” her main point of the class was, what if at the end of the day, our only question was, was I present in what the Lord led me to do? What if I don’t care if I get ahead, or hit all my goals; but instead care about remaining in the Lord and allowing Him to determine my fruit?
This is a constant struggle for me. For so long, at the end of the day, my level of happiness has been based solely on whether or not I accomplished my to do list. If I met a lot of my goals, then I’d be happy and proud. I’d pat myself on the back with a smile and think, I did great today! But then on the flip side, if I felt called to rest, I'd try to enjoy it, but really inside all I could think was, "You suck. You have accomplished nothing. Rest is for the weak." This summer, God really challenged me in this thinking. Realizing that He was asking me to throw out my expectations and simply abide in Him, I felt free. Free to soak up special moments with my sister planning her wedding, to sit on the beach with a dear friend as we talked through our reading from Wild and Free, and free to rest, letting the Lord refuel me in the way that only He knows how.
Purposefully allowing expectations to be unmet is extremely challenging; but if that means following the Lord's lead and experiencing freedom, then it's worth it. Although this summer was different than I imagined, and I took an unintentional summer break from writing, I am so thankful for the way God taught me to more fully allow Him to order my steps.
If you’re struggling with meeting your own goals or expectations, I want to encourage you to check those with the Lord. Are those expectations that you are laying on yourself? Or are they goals that the Lord has for you? Together, let’s embrace the freedom that comes from letting the Lord determine our steps. With confidence let us say, “I don’t care how I end this day. What I care about is that I’ve pursued the Lord.”