game over

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7

This verse might just be my new favorite Bible verse. These are the kind of words I would want painted on the ceiling above my bed so I can gaze at them as I fall asleep and see them as soon as I wake up.

But if I’m being honest, I don’t feel very rooted right now.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe what I don’t feel. The amount of anxiety swirling through our lives is so great, even more so now given the circumstances with COVID-19 and all of the tensions we are currently faced with. This anxiety can be so consuming and truly steal away from this space we’ve been put into to reevaluate our lives and the way we spend our time. What we give our time to reflects what we value. I’ve learned that I value sleep more than I value consistent intentional time with God. I’ve learned that I value TV more than exercising, good sleep, and doing things that are actually refreshing. I use TV to drown out the guilt I feel from not living up to my own expectations, but really it doesn’t do anything because I still think about it all the time.

I end up walking around bogged down by the weight of my own expectations. It’s heavy and I keep trying to put it all down, but end up picking it all back up, thinking “I need these so I can be focused, successful, and not lose sight of what’s important”. All these expectations just end up creating a measurement that I can never live up to. I’m literally competing against myself. I’m being beaten up by a version of me that doesn’t exist. Have you ever thought “If I just try more” or “If I was just better I could do this”? You wake up every morning, dragging yourself out of bed– dreading a long day of trying and coming home defeated.

It’s never enough. There’s nothing that you can do that is or ever will be enough. It’s an unbeatable game– because it never ends if you keep playing it. You’ll be hunched over the joystick with bloodshot eyes staring with a crazed, desperate focus on winning the unachievable. You think “Just one more level–almost there—then I’ll have a break–then I’ll be satisfied”. But there’s always another level, isn’t there? The longer you play the harder it gets and the more determined you are to win—while the higher the stakes are, the more desperate you are to prove that you can do it. But what if you die? What do you do then? Will you be able to walk away letting someone else vie for first place or will you stick another quarter in and start the trudge up the mountain again?

There you are—still staring intently at what you’re doing. Suddenly, you get a tap on the shoulder. Someone else wants to play. But you’ve been playing this game for so long and have worked really hard. If you step aside, you’ll have to go home and all you’ll have to think about is how you were so close–at least you think you were.

You begrudgingly walk outside and everything around you has changed. The laundromat next door is gone, there’s a new restaurant across the street, and there’s faces you’ve never seen before. You realize–that while you were focused on winning, everything around you changed and you missed it.

I see you–you’re looking back at the game. You’re unsure that walking away is really the way. You’ve played it for so long and haven’t known anything different, because playing that game has basically been your full-time job.

The highscores scroll across the screen and you notice your name is second. How odd. You swear you were first. Now you’re even more convinced that you need to go back in there and win back your title.

You’re about to step in front of the joystick you’ve spent hours willing to do your bidding– then someone else gets there before you and slips a quarter in.

You stop in your tracks, not knowing what to do now. Forced to stand still for a moment, you realize that you’re kind of relieved. Protecting your high score was getting to be a lot. You didn’t have time for anything else and though a little unsure, you were curious what else could be out there beyond this little arcade. With a newfound confidence, you step outside into the light, determined to let go of being first.

After all, there’s a whole world outside waiting to be seen and known.

When we’re focused on us, on our accomplishments, on our expectations—we miss so much. We miss the world around us, that’s waiting to be seen and experienced. We miss the grace there is in being able to try and fail. We miss the freedom there is in waking up, feeling hopeful and being present to laugh, listen, and see a person the way Christ sees them.

We miss that all we’re called to do is just be with Christ—loving him and loving others. Just be with Him. In being with him, you will know him. In knowing him, you will find peace and the game will lose it’s luster. The arcade will start to look more like the rundown building it is, having no ability to draw you in. Your worth, value, desires, and everything about you will be rooted in truth. The truth is that God loves you. God came to save you so you could spend an eternity loving each other. He knew we couldn’t save ourselves and that we’d fail over and over. He knew. He loves us anyways–failures and all, and oh how thankful I am for that!!

Accepting His love for you will overwhelm you in a good way—changing you from the inside out. That love will extend more than any of our trying. When we are able to put down the piles of unrealistic expectations, we have so much more margin to love. We’ll just be big cups filled with love that has no other choice but to overflow into all the cups around it. We can all probably agree that this world could always use more love. Which makes complete sense because God is love, and we need him just as much today as we did yesterday!

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39

As always, thank you for reading and I hope in some small way that my experiences makes you feel a little bit more seen, understood, and loved.

p.s. I just realized this is my first post in 2020! Sorry it’s been awhile. I have several unpublished/unfinished posts that have just been ruminating for awhile—this being one of them.

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