Are you ever overwhelmed by the unrelenting and exhausting feeling that it’s never enough? And by “it," I mean everything. It seems that in almost every area of our lives, I need to be doing more of something. The list feels endless.
I should exercise more. I need to get to those unfinished projects in the house. I should spend more time with the kids. I should be spending more time with my spouse. I should visit my grandparents more. I really should be connecting with extended family more. I should take baking to the neighbors. I should read that book that my friend recommended to me last year. I should get together with those friends who are hurting. I should really go to the hospital to visit my uncle. I should be making more money. I should call that person back and respond to a bunch of emails. We should have those friends over.
Then you add the spiritual to the list and the weight of guilt can be even more heavy.
I should pray more. I should give more. I should be reading my bible more. I should sign up to serve in a program. I should go to church more. I should be in a small group. I should be doing more outreach. I should share my faith more.
Our society honors people who are busy. We value those who can do more. We measure people by their accomplishments and we motivate with guilt and obligation.
All that’s on our “more” list are good things. But, is this how God wants us to live? Is it His desire for us to live in a state of exhaustion and shame because all of the “good” things we aren’t doing? Arewe missing the best life because of our pursuit of the good life?
This never-ending list of more is often brought about by our absorbing the expectations of other people. Often those of us with empathy and care can’t help but feel the weight of people's wants and needs. Our happiness is unhealthily based on other’s happiness. Our desire to bear one another's burdens doesn’t automatically come with boundaries that prioritized our emotional or physical health.
While for many, religion only adds to our nagging/guilt-ridden complex that we never measure up; and I understand why. However, listen to the words of Jesus and hear the antithesis:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” - Matt 11:28-30
Incredible! The irony is arresting. While religion heaps more on the pile, Jesus takes the pile. While religion adds to the burdens of life, Jesus lightens it. While the world says to get busier, Jesus tells us to rest. He gives us rest. Among all who scream for our attention, His expectation is for us to pause, to stop being busy, to slow down, to stop performing and producing. His priority is for the health of our souls.
While this truth doesn’t make our list smaller or the expectations of people go away, it does give us a never-ending source of life and strength to face all that we face.