Learning to Lean
“What is your occupation?” she asked. This seemingly innocent and sterile question echoed around the chambers of my heart as I struggled to pin the answer down.
I was simply filling out medical paperwork. I had done this hundreds of times before. It was supposed to be a “no-brainer.” But this time, it halted my eager pen and made me catch my breath and furrow my brow.
The form explained my options: Employed, Self-Employed, or Un-Employed. Circle one, it said.
I must confess, my first response was anger. Why on earth were those my only options? I mean, seriously?! I was tempted to circle ALL of them, if only to gain the chance to explain. The fact that I don’t earn social security or a paycheck shouldn’t quantify whether or not I am adequately “occupied.”
My occupation? There are many titles that occupy the space of my life.
Yes, there are many “occupations” that I can legitimately call mine – I occupy myself as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister…an Army wife, an officer’s wife, a chaplain’s wife, a minister’s wife, a vocalist, a performer, a worshipper, a dreamer, a hope-er, a gratitude grasper, a trying-my-best-er.
There are just so many ways in which I am occupied, so many ways in which I set my hands and feet and heart to flesh out faithfulness in this life. I “work” really hard at those things. They are important to me.
My second response to this questionnaire was actually a whisper of a terrifying thought…“But of all those occupations, what are you doing well enough to qualify yourself at any of them?” (insert mighty grimace).
Now, I knew immediately that this whisper came not from the Lover of my soul, but the enemy of it.
Nonetheless, the arrow hit the intended mark and my shield (of Truth, that is) was down. Feeling good enough is a soft spot in my armor, for sure. My enemy knows this. His aim is deliberate and it rarely misses.
I confess that I heartily struggle with perfectionism. My standards are high for many things in life, but they are cripplingly high for myself. I am not exactly sure where this impossible standard came from, but nonetheless, it is where I wrestle most for perspective and truth. This persistent disappointment in myself is something that Jesus has been working on within my heart.
It’s a battle, but I want to share with you what I have learned….and am learning again.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
I wear this verse in a ring around my finger, flanked by one that reads, “Hope.” It is a good reminder. One that I need, over and over again. But I am learning. Every day, I am leaning upon Him more and myself less. Every day…
I am learning to lean.
I am learning that what qualifies me in this race is not my ability or success in running it.
I am learning that He who calls me is not inept to equip me.
I am learning that His standards are not my standards and that the difference is found in the presence and practice of grace.
I am learning that though I may feel like I am not enough, His anointing upon me to do the things He has called me to do is more than enough.
I am learning that I may fall short over and over again, but His arm is longer and stronger than my need could ever exhaust.
I am learning that leaning is not a sign of weakness, but an expression of trust.
I am learning that I don’t have to have it all figured out, but an understanding that revelation will come when I am ready to receive it.
I am learning that even when I struggle to find anything good in me, He is the Author of everything good in me.
I am learning to let go.
I am learning that it’s ok to learn and to lean.
(Insert slow exhale here.)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
It is no coincidence that “rest” is the root for the word, “restored.” I think that’s pretty fitting. I am learning to lean, to rest, to find my way into the restoring, redeeming arms of Jesus.
He is reshaping my thought life, as much as He is restructuring my priorities. He is shifting my focus off of myself and into His eyes. It’s a beautiful view, actually. For it is in those eyes of tender mercy that I find endless supply each and every morning.
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”
And in that scripture, I have found the words to pray, to release…to lean.
So, when I heard this song from Nichole Nordeman, entitled, “Lean,” I just had to smile. I guess I am not the only one who is learning and growing. I pray that as you read this post, as you listen to this song, you might find a little breath of fresh air for your own journey towards Jesus…and permission to lean in a bit more.
With joy for the journey,