Are you driven by your pressures? Not the healthy kind but unrealistic expectations?
May I confess something to you?
For the latter part of last year I felt myself buckling under the pressures and demands that were thrust on me everywhere I turned. My passionate nature grabbed hold of a spirit of excellence and ran with it.
But even in good things—and God things—the dirty Thief comes to try and steal wisdom right out from under you. He saw this weakness and the trouble it was leading me in before I did and craftily put on more pressure right at the exact time when I felt it couldn’t get any more impossible to finish tasks, organize projects, or perform in any of my responsibilities.
I’ve always been a sucker for wanting to have all my ducks in a row, and it drives me crazy when they’re not. So I move heaven and earth to try and make it happen.The enemy puts on pressure at the precise moment you feel it is impossible to move forward.
I was in the midst of righting unruly ducks (it’s always their fault not mine) when I got my blood test back. The doctor had run more extensive tests to determine why my white blood cell count keeps getting lower and lower. Besides some numbers to note that were of a minor caliber, there were some other results to the test that cast a shadow on my optimism. It revealed that my immune system had taken a hit from recently having Epstein Barr Virus, also known as Mono (say what??), and then the doctor said the other part was making her think “blood disorder.” So she ran more tests.
In the middle of this, I was plagued with bad headaches whenever I was behind the screen. I needed to get an updated prescription from the eye doctor. On top of that my family got sick with a bad virus that still hasn’t packed its bags.
All this piled on to getting ready for Christmas. It swapped places with having time and energy to prepare for new ventures God recently laid on my heart, December offline break notwithstanding. I was still a slave to pressure.
Pressure to keep pushing my body. The demand from my goal to get ahead. The mental load nagging me that someone somewhere was continually expecting something from me.
Despite the new blood test coming back dispelling the threat of a blood disorder (thank You, God!), there was still enough eating my energy to make me realize that my carefully laid plans had unraveled.
Yet God used this whole setup to do a work in me.
Captivities from Pressure
During this season, in between down in the dumps thinking, God led me to finish reading Priscilla Shirer’s book, Fervent. One day I reached the chapter on “Your Pressures,” and those words were electric. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I underlined a lot of it, but here are some quotes that helped me realize God had already given me the key to the cell I was locked in:
“Pressure that makes us feel like we might be wrong…or selfish…or coldhearted…or snooty to enforce margin and boundaries in our schedule so that we can actually maintain enough time to be obedient to what the Lord has called us to do?”
“Fear that we’ll fail and will no longer come off looking as perfect as we want to appear. Fear that somebody else who’s working harder and moving faster will get what was supposed to be ours.”
“Your Father just wants you to be you. And that means not having to be two of you to get it all done.”
It was time to let go of my expectations and others’ suppositions. Obedience to Him is the key. Although I knew this was His message to me, I still bounced around in fear’s playpen for awhile.
And when I was out, I wanted to stubbornly hang on to what I needed to let go. After all, working hard is ingrained in my DNA. Nobody’s going to tell me I can’t do it all.
But God would whisper to my heart, “There’s freedom in margin.”
These pressures were hindrances to pleasing God. I only needed to be directed by Him and not the unreasonable demands of myself, of others, or of society. I found myself praying, “God break all my chains.”When God says to let go, the enemy wants to keep you bouncing around in fear’s playpen.
So I took a deep breath and resolved to yield. And little bit by little bit, I began to walk into freedom from the pressures and demands that held me in captivity for so long.
I can’t say I’m 100% there. Habits, you know. But in grace we grow.
Yesterday God dropped in my spirit that my One Word for now is FREEDOM. I don’t always ask for one or look for a word or phrase; there hasn’t been one for quite some time now. But especially on the heels of this recent walk into it, this word sounds good to me!
I’m ready to thrive in that freedom!
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 NASB
I’m looking forward to a year of more freedom in Christ!
How about you? What unhealthy pressures do you need to let go of? “God break all my chains.” Pray it with me?
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