Cultivating What Matters
Unbeknownst to me, striving has always been a huge part of my life; It’s like a birthmark that I never knew I had, but has always been with me. Because of this intrinsic character trait, I was never satisfied with normal. No, I had to always go the extra mile. I couldn’t just be in the National Honor Society, I had to be president. I couldn’t just be a cheerleader, I had to be captain. I couldn’t be your average college student, I had to join countless organizations, and of course sit on the board of several of them. The striving goes on and on. In every season of my life, I had to do and become more. Now, these aren’t necessarily bad character traits, but if mismanaged, they could become tragic character flaws, and that is exactly what they became.
Over the years my striving turned into anxiety, stress, and overwhelm. I was constantly working, never taking the time to fully enjoy my life, family, and friends. It was like striving was all I knew. I couldn’t take a break without thinking about the laundry list of items on my to-do list that remained unfinished.
This “works” attitude stemmed from a fear of failure. I believed that in order to be successful I had to be constantly working toward more, and because of that mindset, my academic career soared and my business grew, but my relationships died.
I was known as the “busy bee.” You know it’s bad when a friend starts a phone call with, “I know you’re probably busy but…” Everyone knew that busyness was my badge of honor. I wore it proudly and unapologetically, and because of that, my relationships suffered.
Before I knew it, I looked up and realized that my computer was my friend. The friendships that I cherished were waning because I wasn’t taking the time to nourish them. The relationship that I had built for 5 years was dying because I wasn’t spending the quality time to tend it. I was cultivating my academic career and business, but I wasn’t taking time to be present and cultivate what truly matters.
Many of us are going through life focused on the wrong things. We’re putting all of our time and effort into climbing the corporate ladder, volunteering in organization after organization, signing up for an added responsibility that we know we can barely balance, doing things that only we pressure ourselves to do.
It reminds me of Luke’s story of Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Martha and her sister Mary invited Jesus over to their house, and while Martha was working her butt off cooking and prepping the table, Mary was being present, enjoying her time with the Lord. Frustrated by all of her hard work and Mary's lack thereof, she complained to Jesus because her sister wouldn't help. Instead of focusing on the purpose of Jesus’ visit and enjoying His presence, Martha was busy tending to things that didn’t really matter. How many of us are doing the same, striving instead of cultivating?
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Striving leads to nothing but exhaustion and emptiness; there's no satisfaction or contentment with what God has given us. These days, I’m much more focused on cultivating what matters. I would love to say that the striving has fully ceased, but it hasn’t. I’m a work in progress, but I’m starting to see what’s important in my life, and that is my life, family, friends, and relationships. Work will always be there, but people won’t. At the end of this life, I rather be remembered and cherished by the ones who know me best, not the ones who have only a snapshot of who I am.
For those reasons, my goal for this year is to strive less, be more present, and cultivate what matters. To hold myself accountable, I’ve been using my PowerSheets by Lara Casey’s Cultivate What Matters Shop. The PowerSheets help me to carve out intentional, purpose-filled goals by focusing me on what matters the most. Instead of focusing on doing more, I’m working toward stewarding what I’ve already been given well, and I want to challenge you to do the same.
Let the striving cease. Relax your expectations. Reduce the pressure. Embrace rest. Be present. Cultivate what matters.
What do you need to cultivate more of in your life? Tell me in the comments below!