“Another Monday comes and I just wanna breathe ’cause it’s a long, long week for someone wired to please. I keep taking my aim, pushing it higher, wanna shine bright, even brighter now. Wish I would tell myself, ‘Don’t try so hard. God gives you grace and you can’t earn it,'” Amy Grant sings in Don’t Try So Hard.
I so relate to the words of this song. It’s the second half of the tagline on my book, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor. In essence, any time I overwork and push myself to exhaustion, it’s out of some sense of duty to God. He doesn’t require it of me, but I still require it of myself.
I’m a doer, always have been. Old habits die hard. I work long hours with little down time. I push myself to exhaustion, which is what happened today. I am exhausted unable to do much of anything.
My brain is exhausted. My body feels like it has shut down. My emotions are flat-lined and so I did what I do whenever I get to the end of my means. I went to God. Although I go to Him every day, many times a day, when my body shuts down, He has my full attention.
Today, I wrote what I felt He was saying to me. I share it with you because this is part of the journey, this thing of trying so hard to be perfect when all God wants for us is just to be who He created us to be. So simple, but so difficult to implement. Maybe you get it better than I do. Or maybe you relate to me all too well.
Here’s the truth: you are my daughter. I love you supremely, but you have gotten mixed up on this whole be, do, have scenario. It’s a key on this journey and one you must understand.
You need a day to rejuvenate your tired, achy body, mind, soul and spirit. That’s why you feel lousy today. That’s why you want to just unplug from the world.
If you continue to burn the candle at every end possible, you will end up setting something on fire. And most likely, it will be your physical body. Take this as a reminder. You are not super woman. You are human.
I created you to be in relationship to Me. Part of relationship means you work along side Me, not running out ahead and trying to do a million things at once. Your intent is good, but your focus needs adjusting.
Please remember—one thing at a time. Focus, and then move to the next thing. In order to be healthy, you must schedule down time or your body will rebel and schedule it in unpleasant ways.
So many people work way too hard and end up hospitalized, on medications and fighting major illnesses. You have just gotten to the place where you are coming out of prescription medications, multiple visits to doctors and specialists every year. To maintain this level of health and wellness, you must be healthy in all areas—body, soul and spirit.
Your focus on getting your body and spirit healthier are commendable. In order for your entire being to be healthy, though, you must also focus on your soul.
Your mind needs to be rejuvenated. You cannot continually draw from a leaky cistern1 that has not been replenished. Take some time to read, watch some DVDs, let Me pour into you.
For your emotional health, you must laugh, love, live and feel the wonderful emotions I gave you. I know you enjoy writing, coaching and speaking, but you have to take time to just be, as well. Tap into nature, into people, into family, into resources, into Me.
Your wants and desires are paramount, but do not let them drive you into a state of being overwhelmed, tired, exhausted and spent.
That is where you are today. Remember, I lived as a human being, as well. I know everything you are feeling. Do you not think it was overwhelming to Me, when the masses were crowded around Me, all wanting My touch? I had to draw aside. I had to take some time to recharge My human batteries. If I did, then what makes you think you are any different?
Your body will respond to stress, there’s no way around it. Put some parameters in place to make sure you are not just productive, but enjoying something each and every day.
Remember I came to give you life to the full.2 An abundant life is one that is whole, healthy and happy in every aspect. It’s not just about work. It’s about living and being the very best human being you can be.
The health of your body is not just about what you eat and when you exercise, but it also involves your work to play ratio and time for recharging your mind, will and emotions.
The spiritual element and connection with Me is key, as you well know. I’ve been telling you through several means that it is more important to Me that you BE rather than DO.
Somehow you’ve got it backwards again. You don’t DO writing and work in order to HAVE My approval so you can BE My child.
You are My daughter, My beloved, My child. If you never DID another thing, it would be enough for Me. Why is it not enough for you?
Remember this, if nothing else. I love you and that is enough.
Amy Grant again: “Do you remember how the summers felt when we were kids? Oh, we didn’t think much about it, we just lived. Taking our time, beautiful leisure. When did we start, trying to measure up? And all this time, love has been trying to tell us, Don’t try so hard.
“God gives you grace and you can’t earn it. Don’t think that you’re not worth it because you are. He gave you His love and He’s not leaving, gave you His Son so you’d believe it. You’re lovely even with your scars. Don’t try so hard.”
Listen to Don’t Try So Hard. Then let me know, do you have this problem and if so, what do you do about it?
1 Jeremiah 2:13
is Teresa Shields Parker’s new group on living healthy through a total renovation of body, soul and spirit. Teresa chronicles her journey in the memoir, Sweet Grace, and the practical application workbook, Sweet Grace Study Guide. Also, get a free chapter of her memoir at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.