Over the years, I’ve been on a roller coaster of spending my time in service to others and pulling back to allow myself rest and focus on the family. Up and down, back and forth, in and out of life. But no matter which hill or valley of the roller coaster I’m on at any given point in time, I find that the benefits are fairly short lived. I might feel satisfied with accomplishment for a while after spending my time in service to others and I might feel restful and relieved when I choose to focus on myself for a while. But both are fleeting. Sadly, when I’m serving myself, that sense of obligation creeps back in, pecking at my conscience, but when I’m serving others, it eventually turns to exhaustion from overwhelming myself and kills the joy of what I’m doing. So what’s the deal? Why can’t I find the happy medium?
To be truthful, it doesn’t exist. Not when I’m trying to find this balance out of my own sense of should and shouldn’t do, derived from our cultural norms. Here’s the big shocker – the right amount of serving comes only from God’s plan over your life. So what does that mean exactly?
God has been giving me a growing level of discernment about myself – I’ve started to become aware when I’m doing something that’s motivated by a sense of obligation vs. motivated by God’s request for me to act. Although truthfully, the first does provide a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I’ve helped someone through a life challenge, the reality is, that satisfaction is only a shadow of the experience of walking out something I know God has asked me to do. In the first, I get this filled up feeling, slightly euphoric, a little puffy-chested, that allows me to breathe more deeply in the aftermath.
For the second, I get the experience of being in God’s presence.
This would be a joy that flows through me like an abundant river, with an intensity that brings me to my knees. A shower of blessing drenches me, not for what I have done for someone else, but because I am overcome with the awareness that God saw me, chose me, asked me. My thankfulness comes not from what I accomplished, or even what He asked me to do, but because He turned His gaze to me. I can’t help but to ask Him to bring me more of those opportunities, ask more of me, just to experience more moments of awareness that His eyes are on me.
But He is a good God. And He will not ask too much of me. So when He is not asking, I do not bear the burden of obligation. This is my time to delight in rest.
As it is with everything in life, our first action should always be to seek God. Imagine a world if everyone did this – if everyone sought Him for their daily activities – there would be nothing that was left undone and nobody would be overburdened. What an amazing place this would be!