There are no trophies here

by Micha

When I was in high school I found the verse, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I wrote it in teenage cursive. I made a collage around it. I taped it to my mirror.

Delighting. It was another task to accomplish.

At some point in my childhood, I learned how to please the grownups. I learned that I was really good at pleasing grownups. And soon, it was what I lived for. Looks of approval. Nodding heads to tell me I was enough. I did my best on every sheet of homework and was nice to the weird kids and ran as fast as I could in PE. In return, the grownups gave me trophies: Hardest Worker, Best Character, Girl of the Year.

I’d found my niche. It was in obedience, the completion of tasks, hard work. I didn’t want to pray aloud in Sunday School, but the grownups wanted me to. So I did. And I memorized the verses and brought my Bible to church and counted out my quarters to stick in the offering plate.

God was the Ultimate Grownup, smiling if I could keep up with my tasks, a sweet teacher who liked me as long as I was nice enough to All the People and concerned with All the Bad Things. And if I could do it, if I could risk enough and try enough and come close enough to God, it would be enough.

I would be enough.

Yesterday at my moms’ group, the idea of “enjoying God” came up. We talked about it for a while, that mysterious possibility that God might be known and that joy, real joy, might be found in God’s presence. What does that mean? we wondered.

I thought about the girl with that verse on her mirror. How I took even this concept, this beautiful idea of “delighting” in my Creator who loves me, and added it to my list.

If I delight, THEN I’ll get the desires of my heart.
If I really and truly love God, THEN I’ll get into the right college.
THEN my life will be something great.

Read your Bible. Pray. Smile Enough. Read your Bible. Pray. Smile Enough. Be Good. Be Bold. Share your Faith. Read your Bible. Pray. Smile Enough.

Performance is doable for a long time, friends. Give everything you have for a week on a mission trip? Yes. You can do this. Work hard at your job. Be a good friend. Make your marriage healthy. Check.

But, eventually you discover the task you cannot survive. Eventually, you weep in your bathroom with a screaming baby attached to your chest and a screaming toddler in the other room and you plug your ears in the fetal position on the toilet lid, rocking back and forth begging it all to go away. You look in the mirror and realize you cannot perfect this thing, this small thing that everyone else in the world seems capable of doing. Motherhood. And there is no one handing out trophies.

Eventually, you realize God is not standing beside you screaming while you cry over your failures. God is not chastising you for your exhausted mother-fails. God is not dragging you back into line when you fall down, commanding you to try again. Try again.

God is the one in the bathroom with you. God is the one with the toddler in his bedroom. God is the one holding your baby and holding your wild head and saying, Shhhhh. Shhhhh. I know. I know.

Eventually delighting in the Lord doesn’t happen because you tried. Delighting happens because you couldn’t try any more. Because you found the task that could not be checked off. Because you discovered you were needy.

And joy comes later. After the need. Within the need. When the performance is over and the truth is spread out and that truth is your only offering. Because you cannot read your Bible or pray. You cannot be good or bold. You cannot share the faith you hardly know how to hold.

It turns out delighting isn’t a task. It’s an experience. It’s not even a choice. It’s a result of something else, something already there. We receive grace because we need it. We find life because we receive grace.

It turns out joy is there for the taking. There are no trophies here. There is no performance. There is only God.

God who fills the need and makes it Enough.

 

 

Photo Credit: jmv at Flickr

15 Responses to “There are no trophies here”

  1. kelli woodford August 22, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    Oh, this: “… delighting isn’t a task. It’s an experience.”

    And what an experience it is. Or maybe, better yet, what a long road we often walk to get to the place where we can let that experience BE ENOUGH.

    I have lived a lot of years trying to cross things off my never-ending list of what I “ought” to be … gaining, ever gaining. It was a strategy for me, really. Something like this: Enter new group of people; Find out what they value; Re-prioritize own values to fit their mold; Result = achieve rockstar status (in their eyes). And like you, I approached God in a similar way … assuming a similar result. Wanting to be ENOUGH.

    But if the Christian life is only about achievement then grace is a joke. If the ones who have it together ENOUGH are the ones who finally receive His smile, then woe be to us all.

    I love how you brought it down to where the rubber meets the road, Micha:
    “And joy comes later. After the need. Within the need. When the performance is over and the truth is spread out and that truth is your only offering…. ”

    Oh, yes to all this. I have found so much more peace in letting go of my place as the achiever and settling into the honesty of the human condition. The truth of my need. Perhaps God isn’t standing there with a clipboard and a tally sheet after all. Perhaps all He ever wanted was to love me – just as I am.

  2. Diana August 22, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    Ah, yes. The trophy-seeking-modality. Sigh. Man, have I been there. For a whole lot of my life. Be grateful you’re beginning to grasp this now, Micha, dear friend. The next couple of decades will be less stressed and a lot more healthy. As always, beautifully written. Thank you.

  3. Paula Gamble August 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    Oh my goodness! I relate to all of this. I was so good at performing and pleasing but never felt good enough! So I tried harder and harder but then I totally broke. Failed relationships, needy kids, and I was an emotional wreck. And I quit. I told God I can’t be a Christian, it’s too impossible, I’m done and I’m dying. And I was afraid He would punish me, but He captured me & held me, showing me His love. And I love how you said grace comes because we need it, we’re spent. And then, life and delight! And we finally can rest!

  4. Sarah Bessey August 23, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    I’m still absolutely and utterly breathless over this, Micha. So much more than enough.

  5. Bev Murrill August 25, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Micha, what a story! What a grasp, finally, on the character of God. This is a story to set people free and a story to bring grace and humility to our lives. It’s been a long time since I had my babies and sat on the toilet seat crying because I couldn’t be enough… and it took me longer than you to realise it, but thank God for transparency and willingness to be open and honest, because … God knew all the time, even if other people didn’t… and He didn’t/doesn’t love you or me or anyone else less because of what He knows. Thank God for grace and love that transcends all our disillusionment with ourselves, and with Him, and with everyone else for that matter. Love it!

  6. mamadeano August 26, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    When you wrote this, you were basically describing me ! Really helpful to read some of my thoughts thought by someone else :)
    Thanks, I love reading your blog x

  7. Joanna August 27, 2013 at 6:48 am #

    Fantastic, beautiful post. Thank you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks:

  1. There are no trophies here - August 22, 2013

    […] I’m over at A Deeper Church thinking about a faith without trophies.  Join me […]

  2. A Gathering of Links XVI | Rachael Gathers - August 23, 2013

    […] From A Deeper Story, There Are No Trophies Here […]

  3. In which I link you up (vol. 32) - Sarah Bessey - August 23, 2013

    […] There Are No Trophies Here by Micha Boyett […]

  4. Let’s be ordinary. Let’s be extravagant. - September 11, 2013

    […] spent a lot of my life trying to good enough to earn God’s approval, good enough to earn the grown-ups’ approval. I’ve heard a lot of sermons on how North American Christians aren’t doing enough, […]

  5. [Guatemala bloggers] Let’s be ordinary. Let’s be extravagant. | WORLD VISION BLOG - September 11, 2013

    […] spent a lot of my life trying to good enough to earn God’s approval, good enough to earn the grown-ups’ approval. I’ve heard a lot of sermons on how North American Christians aren’t doing enough, […]

  6. Lingering Letters [counter-culture] | Little Did She Know... - September 28, 2013

    […] There are No Trophies Here by Micha Boyett on Deeper Church. […]

  7. Lingering Letters [counter-culture] - Little Did She Know - December 18, 2013

    […] There are No Trophies Here by Micha Boyett on Deeper Church. […]

  8. Let’s be ordinary. Let’s be extravagant. « Micha Boyett - March 20, 2014

    […] spent a lot of my life trying to good enough to earn God’s approval, good enough to earn the grown-ups’ approval. I’ve heard a lot of sermons on how North American Christians aren’t doing enough, […]

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image