Hush. Surrender.

We’re tired.

80% of us.

Maybe that’s hyperbolic, but I don’t think so.

We pack our days like overstuffed flat-rate shipping boxes. Cramming is winning. Our logistically maniacal schedules are a badge of honor.

Hi. I’m reading six trendy lifestyle-design books, taking online classes to earn a Masters Degree, learning the art of drone-flying / cooking / painting / filmmaking / ninja-ing / helicopter-piloting / humanitarianism-ing / blogging / etc, writing a book, watching TED talks, training for a marathon, while maintaining a growing and impressive presence on multiple social media platforms, eating vegan / paleo / clean / raw, scrubbing my laundry against my stomach (abs = washboard), networking like its going out of style (it’s not), learning a second (third?) language, and traveling to a new nation every six months, taking breathtaking photos everywhere, all the time, at all hours, that will make you pee your pants with awe. Sometimes I sleep. Ta-da.

The shout – pressing into our eardrums and egos – from this cultural moment says:

Be a dozen brilliant things! Be better! Be more! Remake yourself! Gather admirers, fame, celebrity! Find the spotlight!

Exclamation point, exclamation point.

There’s more:

Be smart. Be successful. Be influential. Be well-dressed. Be cultured. Be wild. Be attractive. Be creative. Be innovative. Be relevant. Be disciplined. Be unpredictable. Be desirable. Be current. Be stupidly in-shape. Be well-liked. Be everything you can’t seem to arrive at being.

(If you’ve never felt the strain of these demands, God bless you. Teach me your selfless, liberated ways.)

The expectations we load onto our backs are limitless. How thrilling! We can be anything we dream! But we expect to be everything else too. We’re told we can be gods (little g’s). Everything’s attainable if we hustle and network and market and impress. It’s great. It’s overwhelming.

So, I’ll say this:

Hi, I’m a millennial – a child of this digital / expectation-laden / adrenaline-laced age – and I’m tired. I can’t live up to my own expectations. Ten people couldn’t. And when I’m this tired, I distract myself. (Apparently, I’m not tired enough to turn off my iPhone.)

This weariness isn’t obvious. Eight hours of sleep won’t cure it. It’s emotional, spiritual exhaustion. It’s the two-ton backpack of ego, square on my shoulders. There’s just so much (too much) to be and do and prove and accomplish and achieve. Me. Me.     me. So – facing my inability to tackle it all – I plunge into escapism. Given a spare moment, I open Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, TED talks, podcasts, Netflix [insert any digital corner]. Every interim is stuffed fat with messaging, digital comparison, internet rabbit trails, networking, videos, scraps of knowledge, and other counterfeits of “productivity.” My energy is splintered across too many diversions. Meanwhile I’m still desperate to become my ideal self, but I’m too tired and too restless to decisively act.

I’m a jack of several trades, master of none. My ego hates that.

Ergo: distractions.

It scares me that I’ve forgotten how to sit quietly for hours, days, observing the world around me without my fifth appendage in my hand or nearby. The little digital darling is so comforting. Precious iPhone. It distracts me. It siphons my awareness. I stay busy, busy, busy, thanks to my iPhone.

This is the hallmark of our exhaustion. We cannot be quiet, not for long. We’re afraid to be still, afraid to be sober-minded, relinquishing the comfort of our internet-alter-egos. We’re too frightened to face our limits and inadequacies, accept them, admit that life isn’t about the fulfillment of our narrow expectations, and set about the diligent, unplugged work of commitment and faithfulness – with no guarantee of acclaim, applause, or comfort.

In other words, we are terrified of sacrifice.

I can’t speak for everyone; I wouldn’t dare. If this doesn’t resonate, bless you. I respect you. Please teach me.

But if this strikes true for you, let’s dig our well of honesty a little deeper.

We are terrified of sacrifice.

I mean that we’d rather exhaust ourselves with myriad expectations and good intentions and digital distractions than surrender our right to headline our dreams, sidestep comfort, turn off our iPhones, and become nobodies who love other nobodies with commitment and tenderness.

We all admire Mother Theresa, but we tremble at the thought of actually having to live that way for the rest of our lives.

I’m guilty.

I’ll serve, yes, if I can document my service on social media; if I can keep one fist around my personal ambitions and the other extended to those in need.

“God, I’m eager to Love others as You love them! But I’ll need to gain followers on Instagram, and I’ll need a platform so others can see the way I love, and I’ll need to fulfill all of my expectations for myself, and please don’t ask me to give up my favorite distractions and comforts. All for Your glory. Amen.”

Yes, I’m guilty.

Perhaps this is the reason we remain so tired, the reason we cram our moments full of anything, everything: because we’re only willing to surrender this much, no more, and if we quiet ourselves too long, if we grow too still, we’ll know that He is God. We’ll feel our selfish autonomy tremble before Him. We’ll remember that life springs from the paradox of sacrificing our lives.

If we try to keep it, we’ll lose it.
If we lose it, we’ll find it.

We’re tired,
fists wrapped tight around expectations we can never – and should never – fulfill,
tethered to selfish ambitions and distractions,
running like hamsters on a wheel,
busy and numb,
chasing slivers of success,
security,
reputation.

Be smart. Be successful. Be influential. Be well-dressed. Be cultured. Be wild. Be attractive. Be creative. Be innovative. Be relevant. Be disciplined. Be unpredictable. Be desirable. Be current. Be stupidly in-shape. Be well-liked. Be everything you can’t seem to arrive at being.

-so screams this culture.

And yet, He presses up through our muddied consciousness with a whisper:

“Hush, child. Surrender.”

He touches these fists – yours, mine – waiting for our fingers to unfurl and clasp His – quieted, calmed – following Him off the hamster wheel and into sacrifice.

Into selflessness.

Into rest.

Hush.
Surrender.

 

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