I have a guilty confession … I love to go out for Chinese buffet. And I usually eat too much. But I can’t resist the little steamed dumplings and fried cream-cheese thingies. And so I add some beef and broccoli to say I had vegetables, and then help myself to another scoop of almond shrimp and fried rice.
Oh my, I am so full after that. I can barely waddle to my car. Hand gripping my stomach … promises to never indulge like that again. Ever. I’m stuffed!
But fueled? Far from it.
After dinner at a Chinese buffet, all I want to do is lie on the couch. In misery. Have you ever been filled but definitely not fueled?
If so, you might enjoy my devotion on Encouragement for Today about how easy it is to fill our lives up to overflowing. And to feel full … but not be fueled.
There is an important difference between the two. However, the hard part about being full but not fueled is it’s almost impossible to diagnose the problem. Your life might be full of good things. Things you love. Things that honor God. But if you are seeking satisfaction from those things, you’ll always be left wanting.
In the devotion today, I promised to tell a bit more about the move that revealed this truth to me. So here’s the short version:
It was 1998 and my husband and I had a pretty good life, living in Phoenix. We had three wonderful little boys (ages 3, 5 & 7), both had jobs we loved, our family lived nearby and we were active in our church. I had cut my work hours to part-time in order to spend more time with the boys, but was working my way back to full-time.
At church, I was involved in almost every activity: helping to lead women’s ministry, singing in the choir in one service, leading worship in another, teaching Wednesday nights at the children’s program and co-leading VBS in the summers. In addition to teaching adult Sunday School occasionally, etc, etc.
Even though my life was full, I was always frustrated. Although I LOVED my children and husband, there was a constant anxiety that I wasn’t doing enough. I wanted to be able to complete projects but nothing ever stayed done at home. There was an underlying drive to push myself to prove that I still had “it”. That I could still do all I could do before children. It was exhausting.
Then my husband’s company closed their Phoenix office. It didn’t take long for him to get another offer – but it was all the way across the country. Charlotte, North Carolina to be exact.
Some women would respond to that kind of opportunity with graciousness. They would be the godly wives who smile sincerely with pride in their husband for getting a job so quickly. They would prepare their children for an exciting adventure. They would trust God had a plan to bring good to them.
All I thought about was how far my husband was taking me out of God’s will. We were only going for two years, but I was certain they would be two dark years. But somewhere in my ranting, I heard God speak, and tell me to go. So I gritted my teeth, committed not to complain, figured I could get through two years, and we moved. With me crying a trail of tears across I-40.
Charlotte was beautiful, but I didn’t appreciate any of it. In spite of how accomplished I had been before the move, I was blind-sided by low self esteem and depression. I felt like a nobody.
I never thought I had a self-esteem problem until no one knew what my talents were, that I could sing, that I could write, that I could successfully organize a special event.
All my accomplishments up until that point meant nothing to anyone.
When every accomplishment was stripped away – what was left was an unhappy, self-centered woman who didn’t think God could make anything good out of a situation not of her choosing.
I know this isn’t a flattering picture, given I was a committed Christian, but it’s the gut-honest truth.
When I wasn’t crying, I was trying to make some kind of a home to live in. At a local Christian bookstore, I found a book called “No Ordinary Home” by an author named Carol Brazo. It was subtitled “The Uncommon Art of Christ-centered Homemaking.” Since I was going to be a full-time homemaker for two years, I decided to figure out what it meant. My plan was to keep trying to master something, to achieve something.
What I learned from reading the book was more than dusting techniques or time management tools. I learned a life-changing truth about how God sees me and I how should see myself. The author wrote:
“If there were one biblical truth I wish I could give my children and lay hold of in my own deepest parts, it would be this one thing. He created me, He loves me, He will always love me. Nothing I do will change who I am.
Being versus doing. The error was finally outlined in bold. I was always worried about what I was doing.
God’s only concerns was and is what I am being – a child of His, forgiven, justified by the work of His Son, His heir.
He did everything that needed doing; I need to relax and concentrate on being. The only thing I need to do is come to grips with God’s way of seeing me.”
I remember setting down the book because tears blurred the page. She was talking about me.
This truth redefined my understanding of what God wanted of me. And I was free from all the expectations I had placed on myself.
It is an ongoing process to live according to this truth. There’s still something in me that drives me to achieve. But now I’m able to see it for what it is, and hold my internal desires up to God’s truth.
I don’t have to prove anything to be loved by God. And He alone desires to fuel me with significance, worth and value.
Perhaps you feel this same frustration I did so many years ago. If so, my prayer is these same three words – being versus doing – will help release you to embrace the truth about your value.
Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you’ll leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
In His love,
P.S. There’s more God did in that move to Charlotte. We did go back to Phoenix, but His plan all along was for me to get to Charlotte – not just my husband. I met Lysa TerKeurst within and month, and connected to Proverbs 31 Ministries, which changed my life and my family’s lives. Now 15 years later I’m an executive director at P31 and so thankful God got tough with me.