When I was younger, I wanted to be the best at something, and be regarded as an expert in some field. The drive was just too intense that it made me miserable. There were days when I’d just be found crying in my room, because I wasn’t the prettiest nor smartest nor the most talented singer or writer nor the best at something in my school. I thought it was the only way to be “seen”. I thought it was an antidote against rejection.
Then, the Holy Spirit made me realize how personal Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was a week before my 16th birthday. While watching a documentary on the crucifixion, I was just given this knowing that His love for me is real and that He saw me on the cross. It prompted a decision to surrender what I thought was my everything and greatly reduced the gnawing frustration to be at the top. Somehow, I was weaned off comparing myself with others.
Perhaps unknown to me for most of my life thus far though, I may have still given off that vibe, as I ran for posts in student organizations. And though I kept on winning and I did have some noble intentions for my bids, m victories were at best hollow. In college, though President of one of the biggest student organizations in my university, I was bullied. In law school, I was well regarded during my term as student council President, as well (I feel that God used it to redeem my confidence as a leader, somehow); but the highs were temporary and superficial. A year after my term, I realized that everything I had poured my heart in didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
When I became a lawyer, I wanted to find a field where I can be regarded as THE Philippine expert in my generation. My not-so-stellar academic performance (subpar vis-a-vis expectations built up since childhood) in law school further fueled such drive. Since I am both an accountant and a lawyer, I thought that it made sense for me to specialize in Tax law. I thought that would do the trick. Somehow, by God’s grace, stakeholders began to take notice of me. Just as my learning curve was quite steep, my promotions were consistent and workplace transfers fast-paced. After 8 years of being exposed to tax practice in the Philippines, except for my gratitude to God for keeping my testimony as a Christian tax lawyer intact, it felt unexplainably hollow. On auto-pilot, I trudged the daily grind…until last year’s big thud.
Suddenly laid off (no I did not job-hop again) due to unexpectedly dismal performance attributable to depression, which I was battling against, I found myself descending to a newer low. Thank God, though, for providing a halfway workplace through which He sustained our daily bread. Mostly, I was thankful, yet there were a lot of times when I just felt the heaviness of the workplace…or perhaps it may have been the heaviness of my heart as I asked: what happened to me?
As I continued to ask God what happened, I finally got it. There I was, straining, striving and exerting immense pressure on myself. What for? For men’s applause? (Did they actually notice? And even if they did, was it worth it and lasting?) For myself? (I didn’t even find fulfillment in what I was doing anymore). So what if I didn’t have stature in the world’s eyes? Did that make God love me or esteem me less? Asking those questions made me realize how extrinsically motivated I was, when all along my motivation should have been intrinsic: to know how God sees me, ascertain His purpose for making me and from there, by His grace walk it out, taking comfort that He has already prepared the good works in advance for me to do.
Then and only then did the strain lift. I literally felt myself traveling lighter, as I purposed one thing and one thing alone: to do as I see the Father doing. It means being purposeful in what to engage in, as well as the manner and effort I was to put in, knowing that because Jesus is the King of my heart, His spirit of excellence is likewise in me. It means taking confidence, not in my own brilliance, degrees or ideas, but in knowing that as His daughter, whose mind is being renewed by Him daily, I have the mind of Christ. The motivation ceased to be focused on temporal rewards (they still are welcome bonuses, although I prefer the more long-lasting eternal rewards). Instead, the desire was tranformed: to be found faithful to what He has called me to do. Nevermind if others don’t see me; what matters is my Abba Father does (He is my El Roi, the God who sees me) and that He is well-pleased with me.
How exactly this heart change took place? I can’t fully explain, and perhaps may not be able to. All I know is only God can transform a heart with a penchant for selfish ambition to one with a bent for Godly vision and decision. With Jesus as my anchor, may I be steady and found faithful to the end.
All this, only by God’s grace.
God, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain. I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans. I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content. Wait, Israel, for God . Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always! – Psalm 131:1-3 MSG
Abba Father, You are the God who sees me. Thank You steadying my heart. Keep my heart rooted, grounded in Your love, in constant cadence with Yours that it may always be content. Content and always rested in You. Let me see and hear You always, Lord, that I may only dabble in matters that You want me to take part of…and that I may learn from Your word and Your ways. For now, I pray for the grace to be steady and faithful, where You have placed me for this season. I wait for You daily with hope, and beckon at Your word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.