Too Tired To Be Religious

My head fell gently back into the plush rocking chair, shimmering through the darkness as I hid in the corner of the darkened church nursery…storage room. This was not my family ministry desk and this was no office. I was drowning in the choppy sea of meetings, feeling the weight of my need to consistently exceed expectations, offer my highest performance at home with my family and trying so hard to be that woman God smiles down upon. 

I was following all of the rules.

God had to see me. 

He had to see how much I was doing for Him

But if this amazing, always-in-control God of the universe indeed saw me and recognized my efforts, why wasn’t my storm getting a little easier? Even a break from the rain would be nice. 

My eyes started to close slowly. I was breathing in the reality of life without brain cancer, yet suffocating from the uncertain health of our soon-to-be third child – the baby I was told would not survive past the first trimester. I was the only full-time minister on staff at the church and I was doing my best to fill as many shoes possible to keep things going until a new senior minister was found. I returned home after work to a loving husband and two boys that desperately wanted my full, energized attention. 

God, you see this don’t You?

You see how hard I’m trying to please You?

You surely see how scared I am right now.

Do You see how exhausted I am from trying to hold it altogether?

Where are You? 

 Author of “Limitless Life” Derwin Gray defines religion as – 

“Humanity’s attempt to reach up and earn God’s acceptance, love and blessings through good behavior or by keeping a specific set of religious principles or laws.”

At that time in my life, I never viewed myself as religious, but simply trying to please the Boss (God) with my efforts. I needed Him to accept me so that I could get a break from the trials I felt storming through my life without ceasing.

Hi. My name is Bethany Boring and I’m too tired to be religious. 

I knew the right verses to point to in times of need. I journaled, maintained a devotional time and strived to be the best family minister, wife and mother possible (in that order too). But it never seemed to be enough to gain a better connection with God that I so desperately desired. Nothing was ever enough. 

I was exhausted trying so hard to earn God’s favor. I wanted Him to notice me, pick me up out of the storm, dry me off and place me on solid, dry ground. 

I wanted Him to see me as His brave warrior. Yet, I was hiding in the middle of a dark nursery storage room. 

My inability to stop cost me much more than just the peace that I longed for from God. 

For 9 years in full-time ministry I never stopped. I always had to do more, reach more, prepare more, baptize more, grow more and teach more. 

During my battle with cancer, I was literally warned by my doctors that if I did not slow down, I would run my body to the ground. When my legs failed, I used a cane. When I could no longer walk, I used an electric scooter. When I was tired, I found caffeinated drinks that my system would tolerate. When I was receiving chemo, I was blogging, preparing lessons and emailing schedules. 

Hi. My name is Bethany Boring and I still have trouble stopping.

When you are stuck in the religious frame of mind, you can never do enough for God, yet you believe you must keep trying.

The difference between religion and grace can be summed up quite easily.

Religion says “You are a sinner and God can never accept you the way you are. Keep working at it.”

Grace says, “You are a sinner and you have the right to be called His child through Christ. Come rest.” 

Religion adds more demands onto your plate.

Grace allows you to be accepted whether your plate is full or empty.

Religion shouts, “You will never be good enough!”

Grace allows you to hear Him singing, “You are mine.”

Religion leads to exhaustion. 

Grace leads to freedom. 

Religion is for those that can’t stop, but grace is the only fuel source that can keep you going.

God allowed the storm to keep blowing for quite a bit longer before I finally realized that I could never do enough to earn His love. But one day, I found myself stopped, surrendering to Him while holding the pieces of my shattered heart. As I sat with my head hanging low in my time of surrender, God held me as I laid still, trembling with fear.

When you finally stop running, you truly don’t know what to do.

This was how I first met Abba. 

The moment I stopped crying to get His attention, was the moment He planned long-ago to allow me to feel Him cradling me in His arms. I had been squirming too much, crying too loud and stuck in an outrage in my own trouble for a very long time.  It is impossible to feel Abba Father’s embrace until you learn to lay fully accepted and gracefully still. His arms had always been there, I was the one that never stopped to notice. I was the one that never trusted Him enough to hold me this close

 

Once you experience the Abba’s love, there is no going back. 

Once you realize His unconditional love really is – unconditional, suddenly you want to drop everything to sit in His arms. You long to feel His heartbeat. You see His hand at work throughout your life, in the lives of others and no day is ordinary anymore.

You have a real relationship with Abba Daddy…and you start to wonder if it can really get any better than this.

Yes…it does get better.

 Why?

Because you are accepted, not trying to earn acceptance.

Because you are loved, not trying to earn love.

Because you know Who you are, not trying to prove who you are not.

In January, I accepted a passage that I wanted to define my year, if not my life. It describes this relationship I am growing-in daily and how it is transforming my life. I still struggle stopping, resting and simply allowing Him to call me His. Yet, not a day goes by that I don’t feel Him embrace, calling me to rest in His arms as He carries me through the storms of life. I am right where I want to be. 

 

 

 

This post was written for the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies “Limitless Life” Week 3 Blog Hop. Find more information about Proverbs 31 Ministries and the various online Bible studies they offer here.

 

 

Bethany is an ICF trained Certified Professional Christian Life Coach (Christian Coach Institute Graduate), Motivational and Inspirational Speaker, mentor to women and an author. Bethany defines herself as a child of God who loves to use her passion for change to inspire others. She has overcome disabilities, wading through the trials and rewards of marriage and motherhood. She enjoys being a wife to Steve for 10 years and mother to three boys (ages 7, 5 and 2). She is a double brain cancer survivor, a 9 year veteran in the field of youth and children's ministry and has published poetry, featured blog posts for numerous ministry websites and children's ministry curriculum contributions. Bethany is currently working on her first book to be released this Fall as well as various freelancing projects. Bethany always welcomes new coaching clients and speaking opportunities!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

39 thoughts on “Too Tired To Be Religious

  1. I love reading your posts, you have overcome so much and your strength and endurance is truly inspiring. I’m glad however that you realized you worn out, tired from doing so much and that it’s time to rest in the loving arms of our Lord and take a breathe, a well deserved one! Sometimes it’s so easy to get into a state of religious behavior…I too have slipped into that mode of thinking and behaving and it’s great whrn this study and the Word reels us back in and shows us that it’s nit by works but by grace that we have been saved. Take care and be blessed.

  2. Enjoyed your post. The topic hit home for me. I understand grace in terms of salvation. But sometimes I don’t apply it during sanctification!

    • Marcia –
      Yes, grace is so much more than just a beginning point, it is a continual gift from our Abba…one even I struggled to really receive for a long time. Thanks for commenting! Love how God spoke to you!

  3. A Minister carries a lot of hats, and I’m amazed at how the ones I know juggle their lives with sharing God’s word, shining his glory with serving your congregation, your community, your family . God’s strength, wisdom, comfort, endurance, courage and peace , having Him as your foundation sees you all through. You all are a WONDERFUL” Gift that God has given us all. Thank you for being and continuing to be an inspirational to us all.

    • Gail –
      You are so right about ministers being excellent jugglers. Yet, I believe there comes a time when God allows the balls to drop and remind us where our foundation lies. Love your words! Thanks for commenting!

  4. Bethany enjoyed this testimony that we can all take to heart. We get so “busy” in church and we miss Him, but once we miss Abba’s love as you said it gets better every day. I wonder how can it get better, but it just keeps growing. Thanks for sharing. Debbie

  5. Amen!!! πŸ™‚ I am so happy I get to follow and travel this journey with you and so happy Matthew is a thriving 1 year old! πŸ™‚

  6. I love your passage of scripture inserting your name…God is so good, isn’t He. What a testimony of God’s amazing love.

    • Angela –
      I love this passage as it was given to me during a time this past year that allowed me to simply be loved as I was. Inserting my name into His Word makes it so much more personal and practical. It serves as a great way to encourage others through His Word too…just insert their name!

  7. WOW, thank you for sharing, Not good enough yet! I am good enough I am a child of the King, I am HIS and HE is my daddy!! Rest in His arms and let Him hold me. I am a very visual person and I love this!

    • Stacey –
      I’m a visual person too and I believe Abba knows me very well and chooses so many visual ways to show Himself. Rest in His arms!

  8. Bethany thanks for sharing that great reminder that we need to not seek acceptance of others but allow God our Father to be our Abba. To allow God to transform us and to learn to rest in His Presence. That was something I needed to hear and remember that God has me where He wants me to be at this moment in time . Thank you for reminding us
    Because you are accepted, not trying to earn acceptance.
    Because you are loved, not trying to earn love.
    Because you know Who you are, not trying to prove who you are not.
    Marilyn (Proverbs 31 OBS Mimistry Team )

  9. Bethany, thank you for writing this post. I really enjoyed your religion verse grace list. It touches home so much with me. Being still and resting is so hard for the ones of us that like to be busy, but oh how refreshing are the times each day when I stop and enjoy my relationship with my Heavenly Father!

    Enjoy your day!

    • Bath –
      Yes…I do believe I am one of those that like to be busy, which makes resting in stillness even more crucial. Thanks for your encouragement!

  10. I love reading your posts. Thank you Lord for speaking to my heart today through Bethany. I need to be “gracefully still”

  11. Shewww, that performance based loved gets us every time. I still have a such a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that Jesus did this for us already and no matter how hard we try, our Daddy won’t love us any less or any more. The price has been paid!! Awesome post, loved reading it!! Thank you so much for sharing and so happy to be on this journey alongside you. Blessings to you sister!!

  12. Bethany,
    From one too-tired-to-be-religious girl to another – Amen. I’ve never hidden in our nursery storage closet but I have been known to retreat in exhaustion and desperation to my own closet. Thankfully, I, too, have discovered those arms of grace. And now when I’m tempted to succumb to the pull of religion without relationship I can politely say, “No thank you.” Been there, done that. I don’t have anything to prove; Jesus already did it all.

    Thank you for sharing in the Blog Hop. What a blessing to have you in the OBS Community! Blessings ~ Shelly

    • Shelly,
      Your comment means so much to me! I love participating in the blog hop! I’m glad I can share but also peek into the lives of women just like myself. Thank you for all you do!

  13. Thank you for sharing your heart, Bethany. I learned a lot about your life and I didn’t know you had experienced so many things in your life. You are inspirational! πŸ™‚

    • Melissa –
      Thanks! We all go through life differently, each with a story to tell. I love sharing what God has done and what He continues to do!

  14. My favorite part that you wrote is this: “Because you know who you are, not trying to prove who you are not.” I’ve spent much of my life trying to prove I am not ____ (fill in the blank), so that resonated with me! And I admit I often STILL try to prove who I am/am not, even though I know in my head that my identity is not in what I do. Old habits die hard, don’t they?
    P.S. I am in children’s ministry and have been for 2.5 years. Woooo, baby! πŸ˜‰

    • Elizabeth –
      You hit on a huge struggle for I think a lot of us…the entire “trying to prove to others and myself that I am/am not that.” I’m raising my hand over here…well, I wrote it in there in my own admittance that yes – you are not alone! One thing I have been attempting to do is catch myself when I enter to this mindset and allow God to remind me Who I belong to. I’m not saying I get it right every time or even half of the time, but admitting our struggle is allowing His promises to take root.

      Children’s ministry is a blast, isn’t it?! If I can be of any assistance and encouragement, please let me know!

  15. Love this, Bethany. Seeing God as a boss to impress is exactly the words that came to mind for me this week too. Working on accepting that he is not impressed with me regardless of my accomplishments or to-do list. He just wants me to hang out with him. Praying for strength to be still.

    • Paige –
      Your words are so beautiful! When I read this, I could hear your prayer to Him. I pray He will reveal Himself to you in an entirely new, personal way this week. Breathe in the peace that only He can promise. Praying for you friend!

    • Sandi –
      Wow…thanks for your encouragement! I love writing and seeing how God simply is in control of this entire adventure. I’m glad I have the opportunity to share! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  16. beautiful! I have been so busy over the last month that I have forgot to just rest in my Father’s arm.
    Thank you for the reminder.

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