I'm Weary

"Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28

I'm tired. Tired of spinning plates. Tired of trying to live life in the fast lane. I'm tired of being out of breath and overextended. I'm worn out from longing for a better way. I'm weary of striving to slow down and breathe. Exhausted from the heaviness my soul tries its hardest to bear.  

I'm so ready to just push pause, stop, and refocus. 

One of my many faults is that I attempt to solve my challenges and difficulties by either taking it upon my self to do it all, or listening to diagnoses offered by others.

I have a serious case of pride. If left unchecked, it takes control and moves me in places I don't belong. When my pride is running amuck and I'm faced with challenges or difficulties, pride takes over and shifts my internal gear into "get it done mode." When there, I assume complete responsibility for solving all of my challenges or difficulties, and I reason I'm more than capable of finding solutions. 

If I run out of my own solutions, my next attempt is to turn to others and get their input. I will research and dig and discover and read and listen to everything there is to find on solving a particular challenge or difficulty. If someone says do this, I'll do it. If I read to go here, I'll go. Whatever I find that might offer solutions I'm going to try. 

While these two approaches to solving my challenges and difficulties are not inherently bad, to be honest, they've left me completely exhausted. I'm tired of trying to do things on my own, and it seems that these attempts never provide the deep and permanent healing my soul craves.

The healing I ache for comes only from One source. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus offers a summons to those exhausted from trying. He says, 

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Jesus is the only remedy for my diseased soul. He and He alone provides the rest my soul desires. I simply have to do two things -

First, I must simply come to Him and receive His rest. 

I imagine this means that each day - for me it means each moment throughout my day - I must bring Him all my burdens and joys, hopes, dreams, and plans. I must be willing to lay these things before Him. This requires I stop. Pause. Listen. I also must receive the rest He provides by my simply coming, and deeply breathe in knowing He profoundly cares for everything I bring to Him. 

Second, I must receive His yoke, and learn from Him. 

I suppose this implies that as I come to Him each day, I make a renewed profession of my daily, living faith and embrace His Gospel - the Great Good News of what He's accomplished for me - afresh. Each day - or moment by moment in my case - as I submit my life to the plans He has for me, I will learn a new way of being and doing that is filled with gentleness and humility. This modus vivendi (way of life) is immensely different than my modus operandi (way of operating), yet the impact is transformational. 

I'm weary today, and it's been just an ordinary day. But in this moment I choose to stop. To come to Him and receive what He longs to give me. To  renew, once again, my commitment to Him and listen as He teaches. 

Today, I respond simply by coming, receiving, and learning from Him. In living this new way of life, I will find rest for my soul. 

My Addiction

I'm an addict.

I have a "drug" of choice that's my fill-me-up when I'm empty and my pick-me-up when I'm down. It soothes my fears and calms the free-for-all that wages war within me. When I'm discouraged, a simple dose anesthetizes my feelings and supplants a euphoria my mind and body crave with abandonment. 

I have an addiction.

I'm consistently seeking my next fix. My dependency on this "drug" drives me to talk, dress, and act in such a way that guarantees I'll get what I so desperately need. 

My drug of choice . . . My addiction is:

I'm addicted to approval.

I guess you could call me an an approval-addict.

At least that's what he called me as he stared across the room at me one Friday morning. I'd been seeing him for months and with his words he'd been the instrument of God performing a much needed surgery on my soul. While it felt as if this surgeon had forgotten to administer anesthesia prior to his first cut, I came to understand that honest introspection can be as painful as a wound inflicted upon the surface. 

"I know what you are," He offered, after a rather painful discussion of my past. "You're an approval-addict. You've lived your entire life seeking the approval of every single person you meet." 

I have to admit my initial response was an expletive, formed and perfectly delivered in my head. I wanted to defend myself and shout to the top of my voice "You are wrong, this is just my amiable and effervescent personality . . . everybody likes me . . . just ask them?" 

But as I looked back at him, I knew deep down he had just pulled the camouflage off this impeccably concealed truth, and by doing so, I was now forced to discover why I'd hidden it there in the first place. 

Before I could offer anything up, he continued. 

"Do you see how this all makes sense?" He asked with genuine understanding. But I didn't see any meaning in this at all, and he knew it. Knowingly, he began to explain the significance of my approval-addiction and why this made perfect sense to him. 

Looking back, I now comprehend the truth found in his words. 

When I was a child, a wound deeply pierced my soul. In that instant I determined, subconsciously, that I would never let anyone come close to hurting me again. My need to protect myself was so powerful that it propelled me to perform. I know this may not make a lot of sense, but I've discovered the subconscious mind is sometimes impossible to decipher. In performing, I somehow wanted to ensure everyone who witnessed my performance would smile and applaud, and whisper to their neighbor as they looked my direction, "Don't you just love them? They are so real (or talented or well-spoken or intelligent or gracious or gifted or whatevercharacteristicIneededtoengender). I want to be their friend." 

Consequently, I developed techniques to make certain this conclusion was achieved. 

Chiefly, I became an incredible actor. My ability to transform myself into whatever the person in front of me needed, was second to none. As a result, my skills of observation were exceptional. I was able to quickly determine what would cause a person to like me, and then I would act out those things when with them. In every encounter, conversation, social situation, or intimate setting, I was "on stage," performing, so I could make certain everyone "enjoyed the show." In this way, I believed I could manage how people perceived me. After all, if they liked me, then they would surely never hurt me. 

The longer I played this game, the more intense my need for the approval of others became. By living in this manner, I never even realized the extent of my dependency. 

Until . . . He looked across the room and called me an "approval-addict."

Today, while I'd love to admit that my need for approval has lost it's hold over me, I'm not quite there. At times it raises its ugly head and smiles approvingly at me, nodding with raised eyebrows, as if signifying it knows me better than I know myself.

Even now as I write these words, I can hear the all to familiar whisper to once again play the part, as it anxiously skulks below the surface. It's there. I know it. 

But this time . . . things are different.

I have named and accepted my addiction, and now I'm free to receive the healing that's mine. But it takes time and lots of patience to root out the lingering effects my addiction leaves behind. It also requires stillness. It's in this undisturbed calm that my soul is finally free to receive His Words, like healing balm tenderly applied to my injury. 

I suppose one could still say I'm an Approval-Addict. But this time things are different. Because the more I listen to Him, the less I need the approval of others, and the more I'm dependent on His Approval.