Courage to Stop Striving

Updated: Jan 7

By Jen Roland

God's Brave Women - Jen's Story

I walked out of my employer’s office, tears streaming down my cheeks. I had just given my official resignation and, while I knew it was the right decision for my family, it didn’t make it any easier. My boss’s words still linger in my mind: “I hope it’s only temporary.” At the time, I believed this was true, but God had something much different in store for me. At age thirty, being brave meant setting aside my personal goals to learn the value of serving others. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Galatians 5:13-14 I stacked dozens of boxes as I cleaned out my office, my personal tower of Babel built with my own sweat and blood. To the outside world I was ambitious and successful, but beneath the surface was a girl who struggled with perfectionism and a perceived need to prove her worth through hustle. My unrelenting work ethic did more than negatively impact my health and family – it was an obstacle to my spiritual growth. To reorder my priorities, develop humility, and be made new in the image of Christ, that tower needed to be torn down.

"My unrelenting work ethic did more than negatively impact my health and family – it was an obstacle to my spiritual growth. To reorder my priorities, develop humility, and be made new in the image of Christ, that tower needed to be torn down."

Over the next ten years, God placed me in a series of challenging situations that brought awareness to my brokenness. Without my career, I felt a loss of identity. God revealed that I had anchored my worth in productivity and the opinions of others instead of who He says I am – chosen, valued, and eternally loved. The more I allowed their comments cause me to question my decision making, the more my anxiety level rose. Sandwiched between social norms and spiritual wholeness that could only come through submission to Christ, I felt restless, disconnected, and discontent. My natural response was to try to gain control of my health, the conflicts in my marriage, and even my relationship with the Lord. I thought if I kept showing up and praying, God would speak to me. But for the first few years I cried out to Him, I was met with silence.

Through plastic smiles, I tried to mask the pain, maintaining a façade of peace when my internal world was anything but. This is exactly where Satan wanted me to be – falling prey to the lie that no one else understood or would want to listen. The more I shouldered my burdens alone, the more they weighed on me, until I finally fell to my knees in surrender.

"At age thirty-five, being brave meant releasing control, recommitting my life to Jesus, and inviting God to chip away at the thoughts and behaviors that didn’t align with His Word. My situation got worse before it got better and the chiseling process was often painful. Rather than deliver me from it, God took me through it so I would develop a deeper reliance on Him."

At age thirty-five, being brave meant releasing control, recommitting my life to Jesus, and inviting God to chip away at the thoughts and behaviors that didn’t align with His Word. My situation got worse before it got better and the chiseling process was often painful. Rather than deliver me from it, God took me through it so I would develop a deeper reliance on Him. As I prayed for direction, He connected me with Godly friends who provided a safe place to share my struggles without feeling judged. They led with their own vulnerability, listened intently, responded with empathy, and also spoke truth. Most importantly, they saw the real me and accepted me in spite of my flaws. They modeled what it means to be Christian by showing compassion and loving me the same way our Heavenly Father loves His children. Over the past five years, as I have partnered with Christ, He has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. He brought healing to my marriage, gave me a new identity as a Daughter of God, and is showing me what it means to live for His glory. In slowing down and allowing margin in my life to minister to others, other women have come forward to share their story, and God has given me the opportunity to be that safe space for them. This year, my youngest child started school and I had the option of returning to my former career or continuing on my current path of writing, speaking, and coaching. One is guaranteed to bring worldly success; the other healing and wholeness. I chose the latter. This is where I felt the Spirit leading and what I believe is best for my family. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:25 At age forty, being brave means choosing to live counterculture, expecting comments from others, but not allowing their opinions to distract me from what God has called me to do. It means recognizing how God is using every part of my past to prepare me for what’s to come and shape me into the image of His Son. I still have moments where I catch myself striving and periods of heightened anxiety, but those relapses serve as a reminder that I am human, in need of a Savior, and that my goal is not perfection, but continual communion with God.

Bravery is not the absence of fear, but moving forward in the presence of Christ. He goes before us, walks with us, and is our constant source of courage.

"Bravery is not the absence of fear, but moving forward in the presence of Christ. He goes before us, walks with us, and is our constant source of courage."

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

Brave Woman Manifesto

Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!

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About Jen

Jen Roland is a writer, speaker, and health coach specializing in whole-person wellness. Her ministry was inspired by her passion for healthy living, her faith, and her desire to help women move from frazzled to focused and from a full, busy life to a fulfilling, purposeful one. Jen encourages others to build positive habits for their mind, body, and soul with their faith as the foundation for sustainable change. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children. To learn more about Jen's ministry and receive practical strategies for simplified, healthy living, visit her website at www.jenroland.com or find her on Facebook or Instagram.

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© 2019 by Becky Beresford, Author