Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Outgrowing Your Motivation (Or, Reasons You Might Feel Stuck)


"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30,31

In my 40's, I've become more comfortable with Life, people and the ways things work (or do not work) and even with God (in some ways). And as the above verse says it's correct and proper to do, I've grown to love myself--not in a me, me, me kind of way--but to accept and forgive myself, to pamper myself for a couple days, take naps even, if I feel ill or have experienced a huge disappointment. To research ways to care for my body, this temple...to keep it healthy, purring--not crumbling on the path so early that God must drag me Home way, way before He meant to.

I've discovered we cannot truly love and accept and forgive others until we've truly learned to love and accept and forgive ourselves. Some people preach we should detest and be critical of ourselves, but I so disagree. The scariest Christians I know are those who hate themselves and in turn, hate the rest of us imperfect slobs, too.

So anyway, in all this learning and relaxing of my nerves and releasing lots of self-imposed pressure, I've often found myself, well, stuck. Without motivation. Wondering where I should go and what I should do next. And because I've grown comfortable within my own skin, I find that skin gaining some extra weight and my overall appearance, around home anyway, can get pretty sloppy at times.

I mean, for decades, my motivation came from desires to keep-up with my friends and people who intimidated me. I tried to dress myself (and my daughter) as nicely as they did and I was driven by not wanting to appear as less or strange or poor (or fat). And I'd buy things for our home for the same reasons--I'd redecorate because that's what all the ladies at church were doing. I turned college catalog pages because all my friends were returning to school or I'd sit at the kitchen table and read the job classifieds and consider getting a job, not because we needed money, but because I wished to appear like Mrs. Busy Career Woman who had it all together.

Back in my 20's and 30's the majority of my actions and decisions were made according to what people did and how I'd appear if I didn't do as they did. Throw in with that, some caving-in to people's expectations of me and ok--sometimes just doing things because I was young and could get away with it.

But while in my 40's, that is changing. And what I'm finding is that--now--my motivation must change as well because I'm no longer that same, insecure woman. Like I told you, I'm much more comfortable in my skin now, sometimes to the point of being too comfortable, too uncaring of what others think of me--the 'me' they see on the outside. It's as though the carrot of selfish ambition no longer dangles in front of my nose, or if it does, it's fading to invisibility.

But always there must be balance, I know that. Yes, we're not to be led by people's opinions or expectations, but neither are we to skip around not caring and oblivious to the godly example we're to be setting, the one outlined all over the Bible.

So here's what I am learning now--as I have changed and grown-up, so must my motivation. Instead of being driven by desires to keep up with everyone or getting away with bad habits, I need to be led by God.... to do what I do simply out of obedience to what God asks of me. I need to be led --not by fear--but by love, the unconditional kind written about in 1 Corinthians 13... a love which can simplify and soothe all those tendencies inside us to make everything so darn complicated...

...because He never meant Life to be as complicated as this world has made it. You realize that, don't you? And I like to think I'm doing my part to calm it by calming myself and walking--simply--in obedience and love and allowing both to become my new motivation for the remainder of my days.


***
We would frequently be ashamed of our good deeds if people saw all of the motives that produced them.
La Rochefoucauld, Francois De

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

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