There is a time and place to be a warrior. Some mornings you’re woken up by the sound of battle. Your trust is in the Lord as you pick up your weapons that day. But for me, I have been swinging a sword at shadows for most of my life. Prepared to fight for myself, prepared to pour every ounce of energy into making sure I wasn’t crushed under the wheel or left behind. I had an almost magical belief that if I followed a set of esoteric standards I had for myself, that I would be ok. They were a mixture of religious practices and rules imported from popular culture.
The religious practices began to fall away first. As I entered my early twenties, I began to see that they offered no advantage among the believers whose faith I admired (the really FREE ones who understood God’s love), and even though they were good things, they did not get me the relationship with God or others I wanted. My journey was backwards from what it probably should have been: I saw what I wanted and tried to fight for it. But it was only through laying down my weapons, admitting that I could not give myself the life or the love I wanted, and trusting God that I have begun to find it. Now, living more honestly, I find my path has risen. It may be that in another season, I go back to the same activities with a new level of faith and find them transformed and life-giving. But for now, I’m getting back to basics.
The more worldly standards were about setting goals for myself socially and in my career that I could seldom live up to. I’m just not as cool and confident as I am in my dreams. I’m in my mid-thirties and single, and for quite a long time, I seemed incapable of remaining employed for more than 2 years at a stretch. I’m just not fantastic at doing something solely because someone in authority told me to do it, even if they are paying me. My own internal barometer has to be aligned. Mindless compliance is just not part of my DNA.
So you can see how my own standards for success that I was fighting for worked against me. Laying it down and letting it be was my own act of trust in God, the same as picking up weapons and the warrior identity is trust for others. My own self-reliance, my faith in my own effort led me to fight a misplaced war that I could never win. Instead of rules, my standard now is real life. The life that He gives that IS NOT ACHIEVED BY MY OWN EFFORT but is received as a gift.
And the further I go in life, the more I see that it’s the gifts that are the really good things. Effort gets you so far, but to break into something amazing is nothing but a gift. For example, I have a somewhat prestigious college degree. But behind the appearances, I know how it all went down: there was a lot of effort on my part, but I also caught some seriously lucky breaks. Since school, I’ve worked only temporarily in my field. After finding and losing jobs all through my twenties, the best job has been, again, a lucky break, or rather a series of them. That’s a fun story for another time, but suffice it to say, my best was not good enough to make something really good happen.
Never has been, never will be. I don’t think it’s even possible to be fully satisfied apart from enjoying God’s grace. If it’s all about me and my effort to achieve, then even when I achieve, I have to maintain. It’s better to move from glory to glory led by the author of life.
And that is why I’ve laid down the weapons of my own design. What I need is to wield the sword of the Spirit from a place of trust in God. Then it’s His power and not my own. Real power would make me a real warrior. ~ Joni
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Joni Butler has called the ‘Ham home since 2012. Officially, she’s here for employment but has found a home here at Breath. Though an avid diarist for years, this is her first writing gig. Jesus is her best friend and she loves pursuing Him passionately. You can read more about Joni in her Breath Bio.