How to lay your burdens down

One time, I wrote this book. I never set out to write it. It’s just that when I had my first kid, I decided to stay home with him and teach him about salamanders and rocks and how to read and be a human and since I was lonely, I began to write.

I wrote on this here blog and that all began about ten years ago, but about five years in, my friend who had been reading my blog and could see that I was a fairly decent writer said to me, “Maggie. I’m going to go work for a publisher. And I’m going to make you an author.” That was her shimmering dream, that she believed God had put into her heart, and so she went and did that.

And wazaam. We published a book.

People ask me all the time, “How do you publish a book?” And I say, “I don’t know, but I think you need a really good friend.”

Anyways, something strange happened in my heart, I think, after we published that book. Even though it was clearly God that paved the way and moved the mountains and set the sails and all that, somehow I took it upon myself to try really hard to keep up, being an author.

It’s almost like there was this switch that happened in my brain. Like, I thought since I was an author, I was somehow more important. But, the thing is, I didn’t feel any more important. I just felt like a regular person with regular worries and troubles, but I started getting my identity from that title. Author. I must have decided somewhere along the way, that I had to build a “platform” and get a lot of followers and I had to write more books and do all the things that the authors seemed to do.

Thus, slowly but surely, and quite accidentally, cropped up a life of striving. I wasn’t really free to write anymore. I had to write in order to reach people. I couldn’t just be happy posting something–it had to make a shining impact. And how do you measure shining impacts? Well, by numbers of course. But, the numbers never really tallied up enough.

The truth is, I think that even if the numbers had sky-rocketed into the azure blue sky, I still would have looked around, noticed that someone else had ginormously more numbers than I did, and I would have still felt like I wasn’t measuring up.

Now, you guys. I KNEW in my heart, that my worth and value could never be measured by the sum total of the digits. I really did know that. But, my head. My head kept trying to figure it all out and do all the things right, so I could be successful. Whatever successful meant.

I eventually began to read blogs of people who knew how to build platforms. And how to make money writing books and doing podcasts, and they said you have to have an email list and you have to do this and do that and my head would swim.

Because, I really only had time to do the laundry and there was the dishes and my kids and my husband and the people across from my backyard, and then we began to travel and there were more and more people and I didn’t know how to reach them all. I didn’t know how to “go big.”

I think what happened in my heart, was that trying to be successful at writing and speaking had become an idol. I never meant for it to be. I fought against it. My biggest, most oftenest prayer was, “Lord. How do I be humble? Teach me to be humble and walk in that humility toward You and toward people.” Even though I was praying that prayer all the time, still, I was striving.

But, God hears our prayers. He knows our hearts. He knows what we want more than anything and what I wanted more than a big audience or a steady stream of blog posts was just this sense of significance. I just wanted to matter. And I wanted to matter to God. I wanted to do it “right” even though it felt like I could never get there.

So, the other night, Brent and I had this long talk and Brent asked me a lot of deep life questions and he helped me uncover what has been building the angst up in my heart. Aren’t good friends so amazing to have? We really need them to help us understand ourselves and get unstuck from our thick rutted places.

Brent reminded me that when he first met me, I was a pretty carefree girl. I mean, I was the girl who had this little baby water turtle that someone had found out on the parking lot and brought to me. So, I decided to raise it and everyday, I’d go out to the fountain out in the front of our office, and I’d let that little water turtle swim and get some sun.

And I was also the girl, who one day, while I was supposed to be running errands for work, spotted a field of turkeys and said to myself, “Wait. Why am I not chasing those turkeys?” So, I pulled my car over, jumped over the fence in my heels and skirt and, by golley, I chased some turkeys.

Brent reminded me who I was, and I think, deep down, really still am. It’s just that the thistles and thorns of striving so hard to be something great, had choked out my lighthearted but fervent love for God and His created world and the people around me.

So, my friends, I wanted to tell you that the Maggie that woke up today, is different than the Maggie who was anxious and fretting even just yesterday. Isn’t that the kindness of God, right there? He is always remaking us into something new. Not something completely different than who we truly are. But it’s almost like, He’s reforming us into the person we were always meant to be. The person who we have seen traces of all along, but who gets weighed down by life’s worries and struggles and stresses.

Jesus is in the business of setting us free.

This morning, I woke up with the sun and I could almost smell the light. I know. Crazy. But, when your heart is completely carefree, you feel like you can do things that don’t make any sense. Like, walk on sunshine and smell the light beams and the earth is wondrous again, with it’s dew drenched grass and the Mockingbirds that sing.

God spoke into me recently and said, “Maggie, if you want to write, then write! But, don’t try to control all the outcomes. You don’t have to build anything grand. You are already great to me. You cannot fail. Go live and move and have your being and let Me be your first love. Give me your worries, each moment they come up. This whole world is before you to enjoy.”

So, my loves. I’m beginning again. But, this time with the pressure of striving off my chest and the weight of performance off my back and I’ve got some pep in my step. Who knows, I might even chase some turkeys.

You wanna set your burdens down, too? Go ahead. Jesus offers you lightness of heart in exchange for the struggle of juggling all the things.

If anyone belongs to Christ, then he is made new. The old things have gone; everything is made new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Do not be shaped by this world. Instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you. And you will be able to know what is good and pleasing to God and what is perfect. (Romans 12:2)


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