DURING THE EARLY YEARS of my life on a farm, I learned from my mother that there would be no rest for the weary. If I couldn’t find something worthwhile to do, she would give me an unwelcome chore, like weeding the garden, mowing the lawn, or cleaning the kitchen.
She insisted that I should not sit around our home like a sluggard, but must always be doing.
We moved to the city when I was fourteen and I got my first job at a pizza parlor. I worked as many hours as possible after school and on the weekends, not so much for the money, for most of that went to my dad, but because it gave me a respite from the chaos in my family of seven.
By fifteen, I became the assistant to the manager of the pizza parlor, and I got my first sense of power. I learned that doing well and having power had rewards and I believed that I needed both in order to get ahead.
Powerlessness is a good word to describe how I felt for most of my life until that point. It appeared to me that the more I did well, the more power I was given.
At sixteen, I graduated high school and got a job at a grocery store. Soon I was bringing home more money than my mother, who had a job as a secretary. Later, I was promoted to the position as manager over the cashiers and sackers, many of which were as old as my parents, and I could not help but think I was grown up.
I started believing the key to success in life came through work, money, and power.
The education I received through community college over a three-year period didn’t seem necessary to continue so I dropped out and by twenty-one, with success in real estate, I thought I knew how to climb the ladder to freedom simply because I could do anything with my strong work ethic.
The adventure set before me was cast and before I heard Stuart Smalley make his declaration on Saturday Night Live, I was living it. I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.
What I did not know is that my ladder did not lead to freedom, but instead through Death’s door and into a kind of self-made prison. While I believed I was free, I was not. I was confined by the walls of my taskmaster, who cracked the whip every morning, charging me to get up and do.
It was there, in my self-made prison, that Jesus would find me, like a hamster running on her wheel. Over time, he taught me that real freedom was not found in doing but rather in being.
I continue to struggle with being instead of doing—as a way to feel loved, respected, significant, and secure—but when I return to my crazy thinking, I know the key that unlocks the door of my self-made prison.
That key is found in trusting His words and not my own.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”—Jesus (Matthew 11:28)
How do you define success?
How do you define freedom?
Is your freedom found in your success?
It is always my intent and hope that my words may encourage you wherever you are in your journey.
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If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.–Jesus(Mark 4:23)