When I was growing up, I quickly learned that life was all about dealing with life’s curveballs. I grew up in an impoverished neighborhood in L.A. There were always voices, disguised as statistics, telling me the things I would amount to because of where my parents and I came from. I never saw people in my community leave and become successful. That was unheard of. I was often told where I was going to end up; in jail, addicted to drugs, or deceased. I didn’t believe any of those lies. In fact, they only inspired my dreams and drove me to work harder than anyone else. But it still felt like life was against me, always dealing me the worst of hands.
This past year I started to believe the lies in those voices. Anxiety crept in as those lies started to weigh heavy on me. I knew I had so much to be thankful for - how far God had brought me, being the first in my family to go to college, and having a stable job. But I still couldn’t shake the anxiety that came with my past.
Have you ever felt like your success in life was only a mistake? That sooner or later someone was going to realize that you’d faked your way there. That’s how I felt this year. I was always carrying the anxiety of proving myself, striving for accolades, and asking, “how did I get here?”
It was in my tiring pursuit of happiness that God kept coming after me with these verses from Matthew 11. I’d read these words of Jesus plenty of times but could never understand their true meaning, until now.
“Come to me…
All who are a weary...
Take my yoke upon you...
Learn from me…
I will give you rest…”
I’m learning that Jesus calls us to Himself in everything we do, but especially in our self-worth. We can easily fall into the trap of trying to manufacture our own purpose in life. To feel like we’re in control. To feel like we’re the ones who’ve achieved all of our success. But the byproduct of those tendencies and pursuits only breeds anxiety.
In a world offering various solutions for escaping our deep feelings of unrest, Jesus simply offers us Himself. Using the imagery of a “yoke” where two oxen are tied together, author John Mark Comer comments that Jesus is offering to “do the heavy lifting … at his pace.”
Take a moment to read Matthew 11:28-30, using The Message paraphrase. Read each verse, unhurried. Take a breath after each phrase. Feel the freedom of Jesus’ words as he offers “real rest” in taking our burdens today:
28-30“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)