Am I Striving or Abiding?

striving-or-abiding

I’m doing it again.

The habit has become so rehearsed, so familiar, I rarely recognize it. I fall into it like a dance step.

I’m striving.

Sometimes I’m not even sure what I’m striving toward. I trick myself into thinking it’s Christ but is it really? Does a relationship with God mean constantly feeling insecure, like I’m always missing the mark?

I don’t believe it does. As a matter of fact, I know deep down in my gut this isn’t what following Jesus means.

But the problem is I usually don’t even realize when the abiding ends and the striving begins. It’s as though there should be some line in the sand where I can see if I’ve wandered over into the land of constantly feeling less than, not measuring up, and losing the gold star.

I once heard someone say the most beautiful attribute of God is also the most difficult for us to understand.

He was talking about his grace.

We humans tend to put limits on this divine characteristic, but our infinite God has an endless supply of it. In a world where we scream for what’s fair, grace doesn’t always make sense.

One moment I think I have a handle on it, and the next I know I’m grasping.

And therein lies the problem. We won’t ever fully grasp grace. It is beyond us.

Once again, I fall into the old, familiar habit of striving.

So today, I’m going to draw a line in the sand. I’m going to create some boundaries so all of us strivers know when to get off this endless, exhausting treadmill and come back to the saving grace of abiding.

In all my years of striving, here are a few things God has taught me along the way.

When I’m striving, I act out of insecurity. When I’m abiding, I’m secure in God’s approval and acceptance.

I know it’s by his grace I am saved through faith, and there is nothing I can do to earn what he already did for me on the cross. (Ephesians 2:8) Strivers believe nothing they can do is ever enough. But Jesus looks at us through the perfect lens of his Son, Jesus, and says, “You are enough. You are made righteous because of his blood.”

When I’m striving, I’m constantly worrying about my self-image. Abiders seek to glorify God, and know it sometimes costs the approval of others.

Strivers long to be accepted and loved by everyone. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with this desire, a person abiding in Christ knows she cannot please everyone. Her ultimate desire is to bring glory to God. Often in our pursuit of God’s will, there will be people who do not understand or are even opposed to our actions. In such situations we have two choices: either run from God in fear and doubt or move forward in faith.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6 NIV

When I’m striving, I feel as though I have to earn God’s love. When I’m abiding I know there is nothing I can do to make God love me any more or less.

I act out of a desire to share his love. There is an overflow and I cannot help but pour it into the lives of others. When we grasp even an inkling of how much God loves us, it changes us. We discover what true freedom really means.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16 NIV

Today, do you feel burnt out and empty, as though nothing you do is ever enough? Do you long for rest and peace?

If so, this may be a sign that you’re a striver, like me. Will you take my hand, close your eyes and just soak in his presence for a moment?

It’s time to stop striving for God’s approval and start abiding in his grace.

 

*Photo credit (text and enhancement added)

*Linking up with these communities: #IntentionalTuesday

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53 thoughts on “Am I Striving or Abiding?

  1. Oh Abby, you’ve hit the nail on the head! Just at breakfast we were talking about how grace just goes contrary to human logic. We can’t understand it and hardly believe it. I like what you say in point #2: I’m striving when I’m thinking about my own image: what others think. Abiders just want to glorify God. They’re not worried about what they look like. Thanks for this encouragement to leave off striving in favor of abiding!

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    • So true, Betsy. It does go contrary to logic. I’m so thankful we serve a God who is “outside the box” and loves us even though we don’t deserve it. Thanks for your words, friend.

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  2. Ok this —> “Strivers long to be accepted and loved by everyone. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with this desire, a person abiding in Christ knows she cannot please everyone. Her ultimate desire is to bring glory to God.”

    This is something God has been working with me on too! I didn’t ever think I was a people pleaser but God has been showing me this is a struggle of mine and I need to please Him above anyone else. Thank you for this post ❤

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    • I used to not think I was either, Rachel, but then God showed me how much I was worrying about other’s opinions. Thanks so much for visiting today, Rachel. Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Abby! I truly self-identified with your post today. I think I’m a ‘striver’ too. I notice myself getting tense and worried a lot, and that just means I don’t have enough faith that God will carry me. I like the idea of abiding…I think that’s where God really wants me!
    #RaRa Linkup,
    Ceil

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    • I am so glad to hear you identified, Ceil. It is always my prayer to encourage others and point them to Jesus. Thank you for visiting today.

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  4. Abby,
    I am so blessed by your words. Thank you for spending time with our Lord and receiving these much needed truths on behalf of us – your readers! What a blessing you are to me!

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  5. -> “When I’m striving, I’m constantly worrying about my self-image. Abiders seek to glorify God, and know it sometimes costs the approval of others” powerful words today! Thanks for sharing and encouraging me to abide instead of strive.

    W/Love,
    Tayrina from TGAWrites

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    • Thank you for visiting today, Tayrina! This is something God has been laying on my heart, and from reading others posts on FB, etc., I knew I was not the only one who needed to see there really is a difference. Blessings to you, friend.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ellen, as one of my other friends said, I am a member of Strivers Anonymous so I will need this lesson again too I’m sure. 😉 Let us strivers unite!

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  6. Thank you for laying it out for us, Abby! It’s so easy to drift over the line from abiding to striving. When I’m feeling weary, it’s usually because I’m not abiding.

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    • Yes, it is so easy to cross that line, Anita. I’m so thankful that God gives wisdom to anyone who comes before him and asks. What a gracious God we serve!

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  7. I’m currently reading a book by Christine Hoover called From Good to Grace, and it addresses this very issue. When I’m striving, it’s as if I’m pulling away from God. We try to save ourselves when we are striving but the fact is that we need to recognize the grace of God all the more. Blessed to be visiting from #RaRaLinkup.

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  8. Abby- This is wonderful. Thank you for so beautifully and graciously drawing a line in the sand for strivers like you and me. A relationship with Christ should not feel like we are always missing the mark. Thank you for reminding me of that and for calling me in to the joy that is set before me in the gospel. Grace is outrageous and inconceivable, but it’s ours. I’ll take hold of it, and your hand, and pursue it by abiding instead of striving. Beautiful piece!

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    • Amen, Karen. Grace is outrageous. What’s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey is one of the best books on this topic that I’ve ever read and it truly changed me. Thanks so much for visiting today, friend. Let us stivers unite! 😉

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  9. Abby,
    As a charter member of strives anonymous, it’s been a life long journey to get to a place of more abiding (abide is my favorite word by the way) And less striving. Abiding says…it’s been done. Striving says I still have to do it. Great and thought provoking post!
    Love you,
    Bev

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    • Strives Anonymous. I love that! And I am definitely a member too…but working to not be. Thanks so much, Bev. You made me smile with that one.

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  10. Abby- Your post was confirmation that I’ve indeed been hearing God correctly…to BE STILL, to cease the striving, and to rest on grace. Sigh. That’s so dang hard!

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  11. Abby, I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear this. Not just for the encouragement of your words- but to know that I am no alone in this struggle to leave the striving behind and simply bask in His grace-full love. I will hold onto this piece for a while, savoring it as a reminder to abide, not strive.

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    • Dolly, this is so true and profound at the same time: that we need his grace to abide in his grace. Thank you for sharing and that’s something which will stick with me for a long time.

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  12. Abby, this is a fantastic post! I love your words and you speak with power. Thank you for defining this fine line that I know I can be so prone to cross over. You bless me with your words today. Cheering you on from the #RaRalinkup! Go Abby; your writing is God inspired!

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  13. Love this, Abby. I love when God brings us to that place of enough is enough and urges us to be done with that “thing” that is making us work, that is pursuing our affection and stealing our worship. And then He gives us the power and strength to lay it down. Makes me think of Phil 2:13 “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Here is to laying down and letting go!

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    • This is so true, Tiffany. It does steal our worship. I always love hearing your thoughts and thank God we crossed paths in the writing world. Much love to you, friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I have been learning this lesson lately as well. I wrote about this recently in my post, ‘Surrender to the Wave’. How true that God is a loving Father with an infinite supply of grace – it is beyond our comprehension. We do not need to gain His approval, we need only to abide in Him. Thank you for the reminder.
    Blessings,
    Kamea

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  15. What a good word, Abby! Yes, I find myself again and again going after what is unattainable and instead find myself in need of His grace. And that is where we are to live… in His grace. Not our own striving but in Him working through us! Thank you for this reminder and yes, I am taking a break to breathe Him in! Thank you!

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    • It is such a fine line and easy to wander into that path of striving. That’s why I found it so helpful to make these distinctions. Thanks so much for your continual encouragement, friend. You bless me!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. So many truths in this post. I want to grasp how much He loves me. It is hard sometimes when life struggles mire you down. God is good though because He can place messages in your way just when you need it. Thank you.

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  17. Wow Abby! The striving vs. abiding debate continues in my head. You did a great job of settling the issue in this post. I’m thankful for your honesty and your wise words. Blessings to you!

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  18. Gosh!! This is GREAT Abby..so important to know that thin line that exists between striving and abiding! I need to paste this on my mirror!!: When I’m striving, I act out of insecurity. When I’m abiding, I’m secure in God’s approval and acceptance. Excellent blog today..
    visiting from #IntentionalTuesday today! So happy to visit again!

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  19. Well said Abby! I tend to stray over to the “striving” side of things. I think it is impossible to understand God’s grace because it is so contrary to the human condition. I am trusting God in everything and learning to stop striving and abide in Him. I know when we do abide we are much more effective in accomplishing His will for our lives. Thanks for sharing such a thought provoking and much needed post. I will be sharing this today. Have a wonderful week and blessings to you and yours!

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    • So true, Horace. It is impossible to understand. And yet, that’s what makes God so amazing. Thankful we don’t have to understand and can simply be loved. Thanks for your words of encouragement here!

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