Do you struggle with striving accolades or longing to be known and loved? If so, I invite you to read this guest post by my friend Mary. I believe it will be a comfort and encouragement to you today.
One of my favorite authors is Mark Buchanan. In a blog post, he shared about the life of Eustace Conway (a review of the book The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert.) Conway lived an amazing life, and he produced and accomplished much. But this quote stopped me:
“In many ways, he’s accomplished so much because he’s been damaged so deeply. His success – his perfectionism, really – has been a massive gesture of compensation, a thing he’s used to try to fill a void that has no bottom. It’s been his lifelong and mounting effort to hear just one thing: You are my son, whom I love. With you I am well pleased.”
I gulped. Yep. Check. Me.
I don’t write much about my father publicly. There’s still so much mess and tangles there. He died when I was ten years old, and looking back I’m truly unsure of his love for me. Others tell me that he loved me. But my memories, some very disturbing, push against that. He did pay attention to me, something I truly needed, but I’m not sure his attention was of the healthy, nurturing, fatherly sort.
Growing up, I wonder if I could even articulate this. Probably not—because I cannot seem to wrap words around it now. When you have a doubt in your heart about being wanted and loved, this little thought reverberates through you, and it sounds as loud as a symphony: SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH YOU. YOU MUST PERFORM TO EARN SOME LOVE.
So boy howdy did I perform. (And I still do).
I need to be seen, to be known, to be loved. I have spent a large portion of my adult life longing for a father’s love, which was truly impossible when your father is no longer living, and when he lived, he didn’t necessarily cherish you.
All of this striving is chasing after ghosts that can never change.
But the thing is, if you hear the voices that yell at you to perform to prove your worth, you end up believing them like gospel, and they dig trenches in your heart so deep you cannot climb out. All you can do is keep doing things, striving for more, more, more. No matter what awesome achievement you gain, you cannot rest in it. You cannot sit and enjoy the accolade or joy of accomplishment. No, you must keep moving, always moving, never stopping.
If you stop, the voices get louder.
If you stop, you prove you’re unworthy.
If you stop, you might have to face something very painful: the reality of your past.
I am finally learning to stop. I have listened far too long to the symphony of shame in my head. And I’m here to tell you please don’t obey it. Please let it go. Your worth is not tied to performance. It never was. It’s tied to relationship–with the Father who loves you.
I need to believe this, not just write it, not just say it, but live it by slowing my life down and realizing finally that I am worthwhile simply because I’m a human being who is desperately, beautifully loved by her Creator. He does not place me (or you) on a treadmill of performance, letting us run ragged and insecure. No, He settled it all on the cross.
It is finished.
Your race to strive and prove and perform is finished. It’s already settled, your worth.
You can’t earn a love that’s given freely.
You don’t need to burnout for love’s sake.
I write this with deep affection for anyone reading this, particularly those who struggle as I have. I long to see us all set free from this striving.
Mind if I pray for you?
Jesus, help us to stop this treadmill of performance. We’re burned out. Tired. Restless. Needy. Broken. And we have finally realized that all that rushing ends in nothing except fatigue. Help us today to rest in Your beautiful, unchanging love. Keep us close to Your heart. Rest us there. Keep us there. Pour into us there. Oh we are so tired of proving our worth. Instead, let us settle into Your satisfaction over us. Free us from the pursuit of busyness, I pray. Amen.
This guest blog is written by Mary DeMuth. I’m happy to be giving away a copy of Jesus Every Day, Mary’s newest book. Leave a comment below to be entered to win. If you haven’t already, be sure to listen to her new daily prayer podcast. It’s very encouraging!
Kathleen Belleman says
This blog brought tears to my eyes. It hit home so much, I have been living a life of running. This has been a real struggle for me, because of my past, from my father and than a marriage of 22 years of abuse. I still struggle with it even know I am a new child in God, especial when my sister comes over and makes comments that are hurt full. So I try and prove myself all over again. Please pray for me.
Alison A. says
Love this! Very helpful.
Cheryl Barker says
I’ve struggled with performing too, Mary. So thankful we can rest in the Father’s unconditional love for us — even if it’s something we have to remind ourselves of frequently. Blessings to you!
Saundra Dalton-Smith says
Congratulations Cheryl! You won a copy of Mary’s book! I will contact you by email to get your mailing information.