‘Do better!’ exhilirating challenge or exhausting reminder?


It’s a picturesque cozy day last week– the sky is overcast gray, thunder rumbling in the distance. The TV’s on but the volume’s low (I hate when it’s up too high), tuned to some baseball movie Jake likes, and my mom’s favorite quilt keeps me just the right amount of warm. I literally hear rain falling against the window.

Totally livin’ the dream y’all.

I sit relaxed on our big comfy chair and my mind wanders to a familiar thought:

Do better.

Do better. Be more. More disciplined, more devoted, more kind, more motivated, harder working, better informed. Be a better wife, friend, coworker, citizen, Christian. Do better.

Equipped with Pinterest in hand, I formulate plans to improve; I gather recipes, research running plans and post outfits I’d like to wear in that parallel universe where I actually buy clothes on the regular. I look for reading plans and think of ways to be a more disciplined believer. Guilt sets in as I assess myself and a verdict is reached – inadequate.

And there, caught between striving for more and being content, my rest is stolen.

What. The. Heck!

Is it just me? No way. I bet some of the same thoughts rest in the back of your mind, waiting to critique you at just the moment you stop to rest. Men, women, young, old – we all have something we want to change. Maybe you want to be a better parent, grandparent, athlete, business pro. It’s exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time!

Now, the flip side is that setting goals and having ambition are excellent! I admire and respect people who excel and put forth extreme effort at their job, on the field for their hobbies or in friendship to others. It’s just, for me, the crushing weight of trying to do everything better is paralyzing.

The temptation and solution, then, has been to just give up, set aside all those hopes and settle back in to routine. Oh, the safety of routine.

But that’s not ideal either is it? I still want to do better. I still have aspirations and dream of the person I hope to be. And many of the goals I have in mind are good and good for me.

I guess the problem is in wanting to tackle everything at once. Who said I need to be better at it all anyways? Me. Our culture is one fixed on performance, and I’ve bought in completely without even knowing it.

So I decided (yep, just made up my mind) I’m going to do better AND be at peace with myself, confident in who I am, where I am, in my abilities and my skills. I’m going to try to own both my strengths and weaknesses, and focus only on those things I value, one day at a time.

Comparison is no doubt a culprit in my appetite for more, and as a human being I think that’s natural. BUT here’s the thing … I’m unique. You are too. Each of us, even if we are in the same stage of life, experiences life in distinct ways – so comparison can be pretty pointless, don’t ya think? It happens, but I’m going to make a conscience effort to not indulge.

As a Christian, I also have to remember that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, God sees me as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). I’m loved. I’m enough. After all, despite the culture of dos and don’ts that permeates the Church, the crown of Christianity is not perfection, it’s that in our imperfection God accepts us just as we are. If you too are a believer, I’d recommend Ephesians 1 for a quick reminder of who – and whose – we are.

Of course, the contentment vs. striving battle will rage on, but I’d rather struggle than give up I think. So, tomorrow I’ll go to work and give my all. I’ll stick to my healthy eating plan. I’ll work out. I’ll be positive. I’ll pick up where I left off in my reading plan.

I’ll do better.

BUT when I fail, or when I find my motivation turns from goal-smashing to guilt, perhaps I’ll reflect on this post, sit back in that lovely, cozy chair and rest … really rest.


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