Be Still

If your semester was anything like mine, this break was a much needed affair. Between averaging three hours of sleep a night sustained by nothing but coffee, to endless hours in the library pouring over mountains of papers and books, it was time for rest. Sometimes that’s a hard thing to admit. I don’t want to have to admit I’m tired because for whatever reason that means I’m weak.

After all, I’m American through and through… and American means hustle. That means wake up and burden myself with that calling; with that imagined sense of duty that tells me that my worth is dictated by what I accomplish. In my classes, in my church, in student government and beyond, I tell myself that my value is dictated by what I do. In pursuit of some higher sense of calling I unwittingly reduce myself to mechanized humanity and I lose my sense of self in the process of becoming.

And this is not to say that achievements are bad in and of themselves. Within each of us there is an innate desire to pursue a goal in life, and tied to this goal is our sense of purpose. The danger is when we fool ourselves into believing that the achievement of a goal is attached to true satisfaction. We tell ourselves things like: “When I have this GPA…” “When I graduate…” “When I get to law school…” “When I build that business…” “When I have that house…” “When that person loves me…” … then I will be happy. Like fish to bait we burden ourselves with ensuring we achieve these accomplishments, falsely believing that when we do we will feel wanted. 

The truth is that our deepest fears in life, whether we care to admit it or not, are tied to this sense that we are worthless. That in order to be worth more we must be more.

I love to hike. When I’m not working on something it is easily my favorite thing to do. For me, hiking is like life’s pause button. Something about being out on my own in the forest is healing. I smell the scent of cedars broken by a stormy gail wafting beneath the softly lit canopy above. I feel the touch of wind on my skin, tainted by the stench of the briny waters from which it came. I listen to the sound of crickets and pigeons singing their songs in the distance. Underpinning each of these things is an unconscious dependence on something bigger than oneself. The trees do not wonder how they will grow. The birds do not toil and stress for fear that they aren’t loved. God provides. If God will provide for the trees and the sparrow, he also will provide for me. Why? Because in the midst of every moment the world is sustained by God’s reckless love for that which he has created. The bird, which has no clue what Bio Chemistry or Anatomy classes are somehow manages to exist—merely because a loving God provides in the anarchy and chaos of creation. It is written into the fabric of the world. In the chaos of life, I can also be sustained by the knowledge that God loves me. I do not need to become more valuable… to him I am already so valuable.

This is why rest is so important. It is only when I stop that I recognize that I am already loved. It is only when I stop that I see the countless ways that he has already proved that I am valuable to Him. He has proved it in His provision of friends and family who love me even when I think that I am unlovable—and He has proved it (especially in this season) with the provision of His son who loves me more than I could ever love myself.

Rest and experience life during this break knowing that you do not need to work to become more loved. You are already more loved than you know.

Wishing you Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,

 

Jacob Sykes

Chaplain

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