“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” -Viktor Frankl
The weekend is almost here! This is a thought that motivates me through my work day because, for me, weekends are a time for rest and fun. I recognize that not everyone has this type of schedule, but the promise of a break or time to rest is often one of the things that drives us the most. We work hard all week, looking forward to the dinners and events with family and friends, the projects we are excited to work on, the trails to hike, the plane to get on, the movies to watch, the book to read, and the (possible) extra sleep that time off affords us. We are motivated by rest. But what else motivates us? And should we seek rest only after the work is done? And where does our faith fit into this topic?
Motivation is the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. In my field, we often talk about motivation in two ways: intrinsic (coming from within us) or extrinsic (inspired by an outside situation, or person/people). Examples of intrinsic motivation are: our faith, love, feelings of pleasure/enjoyment, achievement, satisfaction, or increased sense of competence or confidence- as well as shame, guilt, “shoulds, musts, or ought to’s,” or fear. Some examples of extrinsic motivation are: money/compensation, rewards, or praise- as well as disciplinary actions, sanctions/penalties, or avoidance of punishment.
Motivation is a force or reason that we do something, and motivators often cause us to want to repeat our behavior.
Motivation is the thing that we grasp for when we fail, lose, get rejected, or feel defeated, tired, and weary.
J.S Park says it well:
“I know, it feels like you need to get your life on track. I know, it feels like you should be further ahead. I know, it feels like you’re stuck in that rut. You want to get it together and get over the inadequacy, uncertainty, missed chances, and all the should’ve-beens. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Pace yourself, relax your fists, make steps, and don’t run. Let the dream breathe. Should-be is still could-be, and though time is short, time is left. Your moment is any moment you say now.”
The second half of this quote inspires and encourages! It offers hope and perspective shifting.
It’s not over yet. You still have so much life ahead of you!
I can still remember when one patient of mine came in and wrote on their intake form- “My goal is to name my insecurities, conquer them, and get back on track!” This was one of my favorite ‘goal-statements’ from a client. She and I worked hard for several months to banish the lies of the enemy who had stolen positive self-talk, and had twisted her identity to the point of fracturing. We worked to undo false beliefs, challenge fear, and obliterate apathy. After some hard work, she eventually got out of the rut and got her dream job, accepted a ‘new normal’ as she confronted long-standing grief that had been weighing her down, and most importantly- her view of self came into alignment with what God was saying about her.
Motivation to Persevere – How did she do it?
This woman had a tendency to want to “run” or to “shut down” to protect herself from feelings of being overwhelmed, exhausted, and hopeless. She began counseling with a skewed perspective of self and feelings of hopelessness. Then one day she looked in the mirror and said… “Enough!” She pressed herself deeply into the challenge of Philippians 4:13; she decided that she really could “do all things through Christ” who offered her strength!
Maybe her story resonates with you, or maybe today…
… you’re facing some uncertainty in your future
… you’re wrestling with familiar thoughts of “you’re not good enough”
… you’re getting distracted by the past-focused howls of should’ves, could’ves, and would’ves.
… you feel “stuck” in a rut that seems inescapable and daunting.
Or maybe you can’t identify with any of this right now, but you have a friend or family member who is going through it.
No matter what, there is something that can be done, and there is hope!
The uncertainty you’re facing looks like “fear,” but it’s actually an opportunity to trust God and experience a miracle! These thoughts of unworthiness are ones that you have defeated before when you used the promises of God to slay them. Remember?
- I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jer 29:11
- “Call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” Psalm 50:15
- “ I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ez 36:26
- “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Cor 5:17
- “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.” Psalm 107: 13-14
The rut that you are stuck in that feels irreversible and beyond-repair is something you can and will overcome because God is in the business of restoration, refreshment, and newness for those whom He has chosen, and He has chosen you. He says:
- “ I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland… Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.” Isaiah 43:19-20
- “The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4
- “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8
If you are in a time of your life that is filled with joy, abundance, and assurance- you have an opportunity to love, support, and lend hope to a friend or family member: suffering through grief, facing deep fear, battling insecurity, or attempting to climb from the depths of a despairing “rut”. Even when it feels like there is nothing that you can “do”, you can always pray and offer a word of encouragement.
- “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal 6:2
- “In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Phil 2: 3-4
- “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Romans 12:15
It’s not over yet. You still have so much life ahead of you!
“We boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5: 2b-5