I have the uncanny ability to turn the things I love into dreaded tasks.
It’s one of my most unenviable traits. Truly. I’ve prayed on the cause. Why do I clutter God’s given gifts with my unreachable expectations? Time and again, I’m brought back to the [entirely complex] fact that my propensity for perfect order and my craving for a tidy outcome, suck the joy right out of what ought to be filled with it.
The things we love will quickly become work if we forget we love them. (Tweet that)
“I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance…
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
Pursuits that were once propelled by enthusiastic perseverance, but are now motivated by deep-seated burden, have misplaced their affection. If we forget what first quickened our heart and set our feet in motion, we are on a down hill slope headed directly for burnout. When our motive shifts from delight to guilt, we’ve removed our heart from the equation.
Using God’s gifts for our gain rather than His glory is a recipe for resentment, not adoration. (Tweet that)
More often than not, our methods of gain are going to bleed dry resources that were intended to be used for His purposes, not ours. That’s precisely when what we love (people, pursuits, passion) loses it’s luster—when we turn it into something it was never supposed to be.
God has been writing me a few love notes, wooing me back to my most cherished pursuits:
♥ Grace turns our have-to into a get-to:
When we wrestle with our gifts and force them to do what we want them to, rather than what God intended them for, we risk falling out of love. We no longer see our calling as an anointed offering (a get-to), but as a ball and chain (a have-to). When we inevitably don’t meet our own “have-to” standards we’re met with guilt and shame—the polar opposite of grace and the graveyard for spiritual fruit. If what you once loved has suddenly grown claws and is tearing at your time and attention, perhaps you’ve forgotten the balm of grace. A little grace goes a long way …
♥ But, do you have to?
I’m the queen of head-down, self-propelled momentum. It gets me pretty far, until I hit a wall. My husband is great at reminding me that often, I don’t have to. If you find yourself wrestling with willingness, maybe it’s time to let go. Or at the very least, take a break. Are people depending on your words, your time, your presence so much so that a little leave of absence would wreak havoc? If not, then perhaps you’ve actually inflated your importance (ouch!) and a step away would be better for everyone involved … especially you. Or maybe it’s time to acknowledge that …
♥ You can’t do it all alone.
We need people. Maybe it’s your husband who knows you inside out or the friends who love you “even when.” If you’re lucky there is a community of believers who don’t expect you to be perfect, even when you think you should be. I have people, but I hate to ask them for help. And it’s stupid, because they love to help me. If the things you love are drowning you, maybe you need a life-preserver. A buoy to hold onto until you’ve got your bearings? A helper who can carry part of your load? Or perhaps you need Someone to pull you all the way onto dry land…
♥ Have you replaced gratitude with gluttony?
I’m grateful for the gifts that God has given me—writing, teaching, leading—but my gratitude can cause me to believe that I have to take every opportunity to use those gifts. And if I exhaust and press myself, I probably could do it all. But I’d end up regarding everything as mediocre instead of a few things as incredible. That’s a quick way to lose your passion. If you were once in love with everything, and now you’re in love with nothing, perhaps it’s time to say no to another helping. Return to your first love. God will narrow our field of vision when we allow Him to clear our path.
I’m intent on praying God’s love notes into post-its on my heart. Every good and perfect gift is written over my life by His hand. My desire is to adore each one—to treasure, regard, and honor it with utmost care—not strangle the joy out of it. I stand in awe of a God who loves me so much, He doesn’t want me to lose what I love most.
Have God’s love notes struck a chord in your heart? Let’s chat in the comments below. ♥
You can also find these words linked up at my favorite spots: Holly Barrett (#testimonytuesday), Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory), Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), and Kristin Hill Taylor (#threewordwednesday).