That desperate urgency to explain. That grim dread of questions. That awkwardness of trying to fill the space with more words. We’re not strangers to feeling like we must prove that we measure up.
And in some ways we’re more susceptible to this than the rest of the world. The homeschooler. The stay-at-home mom. The college student taking a different route. The young couple choosing accountability. The single who’s not focusing on a relationship. Because we’re different, we’re choosing a different path, so we think others inherently look on us with distrust or disappointment. We have this ever-constant pressure to explain ourselves.
I should know. I’m a graduated homeschooler, living at home, on an alternate route to my degree, and 100% single. I know they aren’t true, but in the back of my head I still hear the whispers, They think you’re a failure.
And I’m desperate to show them I’m not. If people ask me at all about my future, I’ll smile and launch into my speech about how my route is so much cheaper and faster, and how I’m not really interested in many of the things other people my age are, because I’m so busy with other work, and how I’m involved in this and that and succeeding in this and that and how planning to do this and that. Then they’ll smile and nod and go “Oh, that’s nice” and hopefully never ask me any questions ever again. I have my script, ready to rush through it at any time. But that desperate dread still sits in my stomach.
Because, really, it’s not their questions I’m afraid of. It’s not really their opinion. The fears and whispers assaulting me aren’t from outside. They’re my own.
Why are you doing this? Are you sure this is the way you want to go? Why are you doing this so differently from everyone else? Do you really think you can do this? Look around. You haven’t even gotten around to getting your license. You’re no where near where everyone else is. You’re failing. You’re failing at adulthood, you’re failing at being responsible. You’re falling right into all the bad stereotypes, of Millennials unprepared for the real world. You’re failing in your witness. You’re failing your parent’s hopes. You’re failing your friend’s high opinions. You’re failing Him.
And I run from the sound, pouring harder into my work, into the pulsing busyness of every day, trying to drown out the sound. I use the everyday to drown out the ominous stamp of the approaching decisions and big challenges I need to face. But they still come. And I slip up. And the whispers catch up to me again. Until they’re not whispers anymore. They’re a constant beat in the background, “The drums, the drums in the deep” driving me mad with worry because I want to escape them to silence them but I don’t know how because everything I do seems to take me one step forward while they dance five more steps ahead and I’m desperate to catch up but seem forever behind and want to shrink into a corner of tears but even then all they do is remind me that I’m still so very young and I’m supposed to be the old responsible one and people are looking up at me that I’m supposed to be the example to and I’m supposed to give them advice and I don’t even know how to handle this stress and others offer answers and options but the number of things to do and things that I could do is overwhelming and — I can’t. I can’t escape them.
Because you can’t escape something inside of you. The fears are my own. They’re me accepting and trying to conform to standards that I created. Perhaps I adopted them from an outside world, but nonetheless, I made them my own. But those standards are not reality.
The true standards are so much more impossible and yet so much easier than mine own.
Because He tells me to be holy, as He is holy.(1 Pet. 1:16) But He also tells me that it’s His death that has made me holy in His sight. (Col 1:22) So I need to let Him work. He tells me to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, but He also says He’s the one who works in me so that I want to and can do His pleasure. (Phil 2:12-13) He requires perfection. But He’s already purchased it for me.
Jesus doesn’t see you as a failure. He sees you as someone who’s following where he leads, even when it is unconventional. The unique path He’s given you is to glorify Him. You are filling your mind with truth. You are raising powerful warriors for the kingdom. You are using your talents and resources in the best way you can. You are holding yourselves to a higher standard, setting an example. You are using your single years to serve Him.
There is nothing to be ashamed of in choosing a different path. In fact, He’s told us again and again to beware the wide, easy, popular way.
You are not failing. You are overcoming. Overcoming the mediocrity set by the world. Overcoming the temptations of the flesh. Overcoming the voices that cry “Me, me, me; mine mine mine”
Don’t cheapen the work of God. Don’t devalue it because it’s different. Not following the paths of your peers isn’t failure. God has a unique story for you. He has a unique place for you to be. And it might not be same as the people around you. His plan isn’t for you to match others, or to be a success in their way, or even to be a success in your own way. You’re calling isn’t to prove yourself. It’s to prove His love. Your calling isn’t to never fail. It’s to never fail to glorify Him.
You have nothing to prove. You are a wretched sinner, whose best works are filthy, bloody rags. But He has redeemed you. He has made you new. You are a king. You are robed as royalty in His righteousness.
You have nothing to prove, because you have done nothing. You have nothing to prove, because He has done everything. You have nothing to prove, because in Him you have everything.
You don’t need to prove your worth. The Cross already has.
Do you struggle with feeling like you’re not doing enough? How do you deal with it? Let me know below.