If you've done your best, then rest

I love the way God speaks. He always emphasizes a message more than once.

God gave me the word RELEASE for 2018. And I have been working on releasing all struggles and all outcomes to God. 

I am not talking about denial or avoidance or slacking. I believe God has given me a task of consciously releasing everything that is not within my control to Him; including thoughts that are not constructive, thoughts that drain me spiritually and emotionally, thoughts that discourage me and rob me of contentment.

There are times I catch myself in mid-thought and remind myself audibly to release whatever is troubling me. Interrupting the internal dialog is powerful and it does work. It's been a valuable exercise already, even though there's still a lot of room for more progress.

I have been listening to a podcast this year called Typology. The host of the podcast is Ian Morgan Cron, the author of The Road Back to You, which helps you find and understand your personality number on the Enneagram. I love the podcast and I enjoy learning about other people's numbers; not just my own. I see some of the challenges in certain numbers' relationship struggles (incompatibilities, perhaps). Each podcast I listen to confirms that we are all struggling internally in some way, shape or form. Some of us bear our souls to others (writers, for instance) and some of us internalize. But we all have developed strategies to navigate life, relationships and getting our own needs met. What makes the Enneagram different from other personality profiles is the spiritual application. It doesn't just type you. If you study it, it can help you identify your unhealthy behaviors; where you go "in stress." It can help you move toward healthier behaviors. And it can help you understand others.

I have taken several tests and have gotten both 2 (Helper) and 9 (Peacemaker) as my primary numbers. I had already tested as a 2 before reading Ian's book. But I realized that I self-identified more with the 9 description (as far as motivations) than the 2. I also feel more driven to merge than even to be loved. But they are close rivals. I am not a 1 (Perfectionist) but I have the internal critical voice of the 1 big time. This won't mean a lot to you if you are not familiar with the Enneagram. I'm sharing this for those friends who are also intrigued by what it reveals in us and in how we relate to others. Ian emphasizes that you have to find your number through recognizing yourself; not just being assigned a type. I had wondered why I felt like his description of a 9 was so close to who I am at my core after I had been typed as a 2 by another test. Ironically, it was when I took the test on his website that I got 9 for the first time. Maybe I'm a lot of both and so close that I score differently depending on how the questions are posed.

I have listened to the existing Typology podcasts out of sequence, bouncing around between topics. I tuned in to one today and heard a song (written with the Perfectionist in mind) with this line: Grace requires nothing of me. I loved that line and the song One (Sleeping At Last) because I have been trying to show more grace to myself. Showing grace to others comes so much easier. And if you are anything like me (hard on yourself to the core), then this blog post may be helpful to you. 

I had several days last week when I was aggressively wrestling with myself to practice the releasing of specific unhelpful and unproductive thoughts. I'm so prone to guilt, often false guilt. I look for fault within myself and ways to blame myself in almost every situation. I don't know if I'm hard-wired for this or if it's more about past conditioning. But it's hard to overcome. And although I have gained much ground in recent years, I can still fall back into severe self-scrutiny. My shame triggers are alive and well. I am not inclined toward extending compassion or grace to myself. So when I heard that song, it spoke to me. 

God extends His grace to me. 

If no one else ever extended grace, His grace would be enough ... sufficient. I believe He is trying to get that across to me as I walk through my most difficult challenges.

As I rode my exercise bike earlier this morning, I had all sorts of thoughts bouncing around in my head. I was thinking about how far I've come and how much healthier (emotionally) I am than I was a year ago. I was thinking about how good I felt today and how the heaviness I was feeling just a few days ago had completely lifted. After struggling with chronic nausea and vomiting since October, I was also enjoying feeling good physically today. Not just okay; really good. 

And then, for some reason, I began to do what comes most naturally to me. I reflected on something unresolved and felt that familiar tugging to go back into self-critique mode. But I caught myself and focused my thoughts on releasing everything -- every relationship, every situation, everything that is behind me -- to God as I press onward and move forward with my life. In joy. In gratitude. For I have been given so much. No life is free from pain or struggle.

In the middle of my own thoughts, I heard these loving words spoken to me internally: 

Haven't you tried to do the best you could? Haven't you loved with all your heart?

I answered the voice I believed was God: 

Yes. I know that I truly have. 

And the voice said: 

If you know you've done your best, then rest. You don't have to find answers. You don't have to figure things out. You don't have to fix anything. Your best may not be good enough for everyone, but your best is all you can do. So just rest. 

My internal critic was silenced and I felt released from the temptation to engage in a struggle that is not my battle to fight.

The voice could have been my own internal voice, of course. But I am not in the habit of speaking lovingly to myself. That is usually the biggest clue that God is speaking. God convicts us, but He does not condemn us. And He loves us even at our worst.

It was after this experience that I tuned into the podcast and heard the words "Grace requires nothing of me" in a song written for perfectionist thoughts. I was reminded that God does not need my help in His work of grace ... unless we define help as trust.