the sun will still set
It’s been quite the busy season at work, where the long hours has certainly taken its toll. Something that I’ve recited to others lately is this: “At the end of the day, the sun will still set”. This, as well as other pieces of advice, has kept me grounded and hopeful when I can’t keep up with my to-do list!
It has also raised a lot of questions as I untangle my overachieving and perfectionist habits. It’s quite clear to me that things need to change if I want to grow up. As a Christian, I often think — WWJD (What would Jesus do)? How would Jesus respond to the “burden” of people asking for help to restore the ill, or to “live” up to other people’s expectations? Does Jesus grow tired of us and hold us at arm’s length when we continue to screw up? I think, based on the eyewitness accounts, Jesus was secure in who He was during his life in this world, and focused on the bigger story at play.
As I think about how to stay grounded in love and respect for others, i’m at a crossroads because I don’t think I extend the same love and respect to myself.
C.S Lewis puts it best: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less”. I have found that working late hours or putting others first is easier for me because I don’t value my time or my needs sometimes. While it’s more of a case-by-case situation, ultimately it’s driven by the urge to continuously prove my worth to others.
For addiction addicts like myself, we yearn to be approved, not based on what we achieve or do, but just by who we are. To have someone look at you, all of you, and still desire you. Surely we’re more lovable when we hide our failures and flaws?
At my church’s bookclub, we’ve been going through ‘Gentle and Lowly’ by Dane C. Ortlund, learning more about the heart of Jesus. Ortlund makes the point that in our pain and faltering, Jesus wants us to come closer, not run away; to draw on his strength and comfort to persevere. To explain this, he uses an analogy of a loving father wanting his suffocating child to whole-heartedly draw on the oxygen tank he is providing instead of in a measured and reasonable way. This point struck me deeply. Surely Jesus is sick of me failing all the time and would have serious doubts about me by now? Isn’t it selfish for me to ask for help? Am I worthwhile to help? But as Ortlund reminds us, Jesus also said “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out”.
There is great wisdom required in knowing when to say no or to step away — whether it’s for your own sake, or for the people around you. I still haven’t cracked the code, but by the grace of God, I know that, no matter what I achieve, the sun will still set and I am still wonderfully made.
I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing things well or achieving things. It has just taken time to discern that I can unwisely attach meaning on things that weren’t there to begin with (i.e taking failures personally). But I also know, one can never find rest through external validation — we will only be left feeling more exhausted.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” — Matthew 11:28 ESV