Confessions of An Addicted Achiever
Warning: If you have never struggled with feelings of worthlessness, questions of your purpose or overwhelming doubt, this blog is not for you.
For the rest of us, here we go.
This blog has been embarrassingly quiet lately and there’s a reason why. Get ready for some real life confessions ahead.
Back in January, I racked my brain to come up with a word for the year and landed on the word Hallelujah. It sounded so full of promise and spiritual. Immediately, we did the Christian thing and found an etsy shop who sold said word on a piece of reclaimed wood. I was ready.
What I had not anticipated, however, was the implications of this word as a theme. Here’s where the confessions start:
Honestly, a few months into 2019 and I wanted to pick a new word.
I’m a doer, an achiever (what’s up, fellow enneagram 3’s!) and an accomplisher. I don’t like to be still. I feel guilt when I sit for too long. If I flip on Netflix, I’m immediately assaulted with feelings that tell me I should be writing a new book instead of binging TV.
Since God knows me inside and out, why in the world would He ask me to pick Hallelujah (which simply means Praise God!) as a yearly theme and then seemingly force me to be still? Force me? Well, let’s just say this year hasn’t exactly been dripping in new opportunities. If you recall, last year my word of the year was Courage. It turned out to be an amazing year of stretching and growth in all of the best ways.
But when the clock struck midnight to usher in 2019, the whole climate of my life seemingly changed, as well. Gone were the opportunities of the previous year. Auditions that I had been nailing were DOA. My phone stopped ringing. Even my words seemed to dry up as I desperately sought to put them down on paper. I started to panic.
Fueling my panic was the fact that in addition to having less opportunities, I also seemed to have more time on my hands than ever. My kids are now all in 5-day-a-week school. I couldn’t use the fact that I was a stay-at-home mom as my excuse for not producing or advancing. I was shaken to my very core with feelings of my own worthlessness.
Adding more angst to my seasonal stress was the ever-present comparison game. I watched as everyone I knew seemed to advance in their careers and opportunities. I fought (and honestly lost…a lot) feelings of jealousy and anger that my life was going no where. This sounds dark, I know it does. But the truth is that the first part of this year, one of the only words I could use to describe my emotional state was lost.
In Luke 10:41,42, Jesus goes to hang at the home of some of his closest friends. Sisters Mary and Martha were both in prep mode for the Lord’s visit, but in vastly different ways. Martha was stressing and striving and doing all the things. Mary was simply sitting down and experiencing Jesus. Can I be honest? I always sympathized with Martha in this story. Like, I know that we’re supposed to be like Mary, but Martha didn’t seem like she was doing anything wrong. She just wanted Jesus to have the best, right? I relate to that on a soul level.
But Jesus, as always, has such a different set of priorities.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
The achiever in me has an almost physical reaction to this verse. Hearing the words of Jesus as He basically reads me right along with Martha. How many times have I been “worried and upset about many things” and yet, it’s not needed at all?
When you’re addicted to achievement, your life can experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. When our value comes from what we are accomplishing rather than who we are, our very sense of worth can fluctuate and leave us with plummeting souls.
My escape can come either temporarily from the next “hit” of achievement, or permanently by a re-routing of my soul toward a new sense of completion. I have to change my wiring to disconnect achievement with worth and connect daily connection with Jesus to “enough.”
So how do I do that?
I’ll admit this is something I’m learning and not something I’ve mastered. I do, however, notice things that seem to make my effort harder or easier and I’d like to share them with you:
- Keep your eyes on Jesus. This sounds cliche but hold on. Keeping your eyes on Jesus is a two-fold blessing because while you are keeping your eyes on Him, you are also NOT keeping your eyes on others and/or your circumstances. This helps so much. Friends, I cannot stress this enough. So much of what fuels my dissatisfaction with my own life is comparing it to what I think it should be instead of what it is. Keep your eyes on Jesus! In Him, you always get love first!
- Shut out the noise. I am so distracted. I find it harder and harder to focus in a world of ever-increasing stuff that vies for my attention. The more distracted I am, the less in tune to God’s presence I am. Similarly, the less in tune to God’s presence I am, the more time I have to move into my own head and out of God’s voice.
- Just be. Be still. Write in a journal. Turn on worship. Clear your mind. I spend so much time worried about accomplishment that I forget to simply sit still and be. It’s a lost art but not without hope of revival.
Are you an addicted achiever? I truly believe there is hope for us. We can move from a place of achievement-based-worth to a circumstance-exempt reality. It is not a miracle fix. It is not a fast fix. It is not even an easy fix, but we can get there. When we add God to any life equation, our efforts go from pathetic to empowered. He is the difference. He is the change. He is the one who can help us sustain a life that values being over doing.
Addicted achievers, take heart! We can make a change! Let’s start today, together!