Have you ever felt like you have to prove yourself to someone? Maybe you’ve told them something you’re good at or some quality that’s integral to who you are, but you get the impression they just don’t quite believe you. If you’re like me, maybe you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time writing convincing cover letters for job applications. Or maybe you’re trying to get someone to buy into a project or dream you are building. It could have been that time you told someone you’d sell everything down to the shirt on your back and walk away from it all because of this one itch in your heart that lights you up and won’t let go. Regardless of the circumstances, your word doesn’t quite stand up on its own in the eyes of someone that you’d really like to have on board, as an ally and friend or as a co-worker and partner with a common goal.
Job applications are exhausting because they require constant self-scrutiny and manipulation to make all the little characteristics that make up the Beth that is me fit into the bullet-point list of requirements and qualifications that someone else has listed for a position they need to fill. Let’s all be honest, none of us fit in boxes. We were created by the One being that cannot be boxed up and, quite often, our skills and talents, and the things that we see as important about ourselves exceed or just don’t quite fit into the mundane lists on a job board somewhere. Our zeal and our passion and the little we bring to the table doesn’t seem to be enough when we present it to others, but it’s all we have. So we start hustling for our worth.
We hustle so hard. We use bigger words. We make passionate stands. We change our clothes. We pay more attention to what others see as important and we play that up in our characteristics.
You value attention to detail? Let me show you how I see everything down to that side-glance at that one comment. I saw that and I remember the socks you were wearing.
You value work in a team? Let me find my jersey. (Which team do you pull for? I want to grab the right one.)
You want someone who’s great at working independently? I’ll grab my headphones and jams and crank out the best work you’ve ever seen.
You want a go-getter? I’mma get you some.
You want someone good with numbers and excel spreadsheets? I’ll grab my calculator and google a few tutorials before we meet.
What do you need? I will be that.
We hustle to mold ourselves into exactly what someone else needs, even if it’s far from who we are. We hustle to prove our worth, to prove why we are good enough, capable enough, and qualified enough, but in the end there’s only one of you and that one you is special and perfect.
In the end, we were created in the beginning for the glory of God alone and, funny thing, He delights in us. He says it over and over in His word. And if you find those little cliches, like being the apple of someone’s eye, nauseating, just look at the stories. Look at the matriarchs and the women everybody points out in scripture for the little things in them, passions and dreams, that set them apart. You’ve got all of those.
He’s given you and me the same freedom as Miriam to to take up our tambourines and dance in His presence.
He’s given you and me the same faith as Rahab, to trust in Him in the face of a crumbling city and a reckless past.
He’s given us the boldness of Esther to approach the throne in safety and honor, and the same heart that breaks for the oppressed – for our people.
He’s found us capable carriers of His promises and His word, like Mary.
He’s given us family and redemption, like He gave Ruth.
He sees us the way He saw Hagar in the desert, even though she thought she was alone, abandoned, and disgraced.
He brings us the same joy that Sarah had when she had Isaac and God’s promises were fulfilled in her.
We can’t give into the lie that we have to perform for any human. He has set each of us in motion on a path He’s already chosen for us, no matter what mistakes we make or where we fall short. He continues to equip us for what is ahead and will continue to lead us on.
As a wise, beautiful friend of mine said,