Did you feel like Sally had you in mind when she wrote today's devotion? I sure did. As soon as I read her introduction to today's devotion, I felt like this could be a prophetic nudge from the Lord about an all-too-familiar topic.
Because, you see, I've always been someone who wants to be not only good at things, but distinctively the best. I'm naturally driven and inquisitive, and find peace in lists and accomplishments. My default is please others and follows the rules. This propensity to overachieve easily went in to hyper-drive when it came to school. In fact, the only intentionally disobedient thing I remember doing in elementary school was to sneak into the forbidden teacher's lounge and steal extra homework from the recycling bins. Later in high school, I took high-level classes and worked hard for straight A's. When people at church told me God would take care of all my needs, I would sneer, "Oh yeah? God's going to write this paper for me?"
Clearly, I have problems.
While my parents praised my grades, they knew that I sometimes let stress rob me of confidence in God and ultimately of my submission to him. One day, I found a note on my bedroom desk. During his morning devotional time, my dad had been praying for me and felt strongly about Titus 3:14, which says: "Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive." Dad jotted me a note (below) which simply reads, "Titus 3:14. Live this out and let the grades fall where they may."
I think he knew that my perfectionism was breeding self-centered anxiety instead of concern for other people. He was telling me that true productivity happens when we love others like God loves them. And he was enabling me to be free from a bondage to overachievement.
For me, this verse and memory are what Sally refers to as "antidotes to overachievement." Like her, I think prayer and meditation ? taking the time to refocus and let God get a word in ? are invaluable solutions to anxiety. When I really open myself to God in prayer, I begin to feel so small compared to him?and it's wonderful. That insurmountable task doesn't necessarily solve itself while I pray, but God gives me the ability to see its importance for what it really is: not very. Do you ever feel this way when you pray?
I think I'll take Sally's advice and take an extra helping of the Psalms this year. And her suggestion to take your devotions outside and pray while you walk is a great one! Here's another suggestion for those of us who are Type-A, left-brained, overachieving, or whatever you want to call us. A rocking chair. I often sit on a glider while I do my devotions and find it to be a non-distracting way to occupy the body and the over-active part of the brain, which enables me to focus more fully on prayer and meditation.