The cliché saying of “I’ll sleep when I die” is a headstone many will carry to the grave.
“When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me.”
Wake-up calls are sometimes the worst, especially if you’re warm and tucked away in the bed, dreaming sweet dreams, then your alarm clock on your smartphone screeches like a wild man. But imagine a different kind of wake-up call that, if left unheeded it would cost you your life.
Arianna Huffington is one of the world’s richest people and the co-founder of the Huffington Post. She is one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people, and appeared on Forbes Most Powerful Women’s list. However, she nearly died due to America’s fatal and misguided rise and grind culture.
Huffington launched the well-known news site the Huffington Post in 2005, where its current net worth stands today at 100 million. But in April 2007, Arianna Huffington almost did not see the fruits of her labor; she woke up after a weekly eighteen-hour work binge in a pool of blood and a bruise on her right eye. Earlier, Huffington had collapsed, hitting her head on her desk after pushing her body to its limits. Upon receiving medical attention, Huffington had learned she had broken her cheekbone and received four stitches for her eye. The doctors deduced she was suffering from over-exhaustion, overworking, and deprived of sleep, rest, and proper diet.
That was when Arianna Huffington decided this rise and grind lifestyle, this hatred towards setting boundaries and physical limitations needed to stop in her own life. This aversion to human weakness, all for the sake of success, was not worth it, and Huffington made the necessary changes in her life and mindset to prevent such an event from happening again.
We’re all victims of this rise and grind culture. It does not matter if you’re black or white, Chinese or Hispanic, wealthy or working-class, America was built on capitalism. It is a machine churning out the businesses and entrepreneurs of tomorrow at the cost of our mental health, our relationships, and our values.
The cliché saying of “I’ll sleep when I die” is a headstone many will carry to the grave. In my opinion, America or Western Culture is utterly terrified of weakness, of lacking in any area, of appearing to not have it altogether, so millions of people live lives and seek lifestyles that act as if human beings have 24/7 batteries.
Is it so hard to admit we do not have it together? Is it so hard to admit we are weak that we are deficient in specific areas?
If you’re a Christian, a believer, you’re called to adhere to a different code, a different mentality. A heart and mind not despising your personal weaknesses but learning how to thrive and be sufficient in God’s grace while existing in them.
God wants us to learn how to depend on Him when we are weak and ‘strong.’ To grow in the knowledge of accepting our limitations and to consider how boasting in our strengths leads to stumbling, how it leads to sleep deprivation, forgetfulness, mood swings, outburst, and self-harm. Therefore, it is always safer to look to Jesus as the source of our strength. The Christian life is unique, a complete antithesis to Western culture in that the kingdom of God promotes humility, brokenness, and sincerity over arrogance, power, and compartmentalization. The world is hostile towards the weak. If you’re weak, then you’ve labeled a liability, a burden, a handicapped, a person who is unable to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and attain the American Dream.
But God’s kingdom is different. God’s kingdom is built upon what the King considers valuable and important, like a humble, contrite heart. Individuals who freely admit their weaknesses to God are like clay. God is free to mold, shape, and work the lumps of clay into an original masterpiece, but what can God do with an already self-proclaimed showpiece. If you’re strong in yourself and believe your strengths are enough to work three and four jobs, to begin three businesses from the ground up, to survive a career schedule on five hours of sleep, then you do not need God. You are your own source of strength and power. Don’t expect God’s assistance or favor; you proudly proclaimed to Him you can do bad all by yourself.
God speaks in Isaiah 57:15, “For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” The Lord God is willing and able to meet the call of the tender-hearted, of people who tragically lost loved ones, of the humble, of those who need financial miracles and investment bankers for their business. God is willing and able to show favor on those who desire a well-balanced life with Him at the center. God wants us to learn that He wants to be here for us in the middle of our grieving; God wants us to realize that He wants to be here for us as we transition to the new phase of our life; God wants us to learn that He is here while we endure these rough seasons for He is above all, high, and worthy to be praised. He reigns alone in absolute control and completely content in eternity, where He is Holy and eternally enthroned. God wants us to learn how He returns life, the will to live to dried spirits. He extravagantly provides grace to people, professing their need for His strength and presence in their life.
True success and victory should never come at the cost of a dejected, weary spirit and a broken, exhausted body. True victory calls for us to live a life of dependency and complete confidence in Jesus Christ and His power to strengthen us daily. We have to be comfortable setting our ego aside, admitting our weakness to Jesus, and not putting confidence in our skills, human wisdom, or abilities because we are not self-sufficient beings. One of the ways we can apply this truth is to stop trying to predict what God will do in our lives or how or when He is going to work His promises in our lives. How much fun and adventurous would our lives be if we trusted God with our pain and secrets instead of putting on a fake front and pretending to be strong. How less fearful and apprehensive of the future would we be if we truly saw God as the refuge, the haven that He is instead of climbing the ladder of success to hide our weaknesses.
Our spirit often grows faint within us because we count on ourselves to be our hero, savior, comforter, emotional support, and way maker. What I have come to find out is we’re unqualified and inadequate to fulfill those positions. We’re not wired to fill those capacities. Our spirit grows faint when we act as the sole supplier of our emotional and financial needs. If we do not make a way, no one else will!
The sheer pressure we put ourselves under is staggering! When we take God’s duties as Heavenly Father and try to meet them using our merits, the situation always ends horribly. Essentially, we are all guilty of trying to do God’s job instead of enjoying our beautiful, private place as children of God. It is, of course, not to say we should not work hard, plan cautiously, and build our craft, but it is the perspective from which we approach money and success at the cost of our bodies and souls that God calls into question. Are we hungering after success and advancement because we crave notoriety and attention, or are we trying to improve the lifestyles of the impoverished? Will our wealth be used to break generational curses and disrupt the cycle of poverty?
In this production called life, God wants us to play the role of the contrite and humble, while He continues being the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy. Because this is the natural order, the correct order of things. And I know when I stop second-guessing God when I stop anticipating a crisis if a situation heads south, when I stop analyzing His moves, then I am free to receive His grace because my weakness is making room for it. God gives a great metaphor of describing the distance between our thought life and ideas to His in Isaiah 55:9. He declares, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
My brain capacity has a limit, and as I learn new information, my brain automatically forgets old information to make more room. My finite mind trying to figure out the plans of an infinite God is like a clownfish trying to swim the entirety of the earth’s oceans in the span of its lifetime.
I can’t figure God’s plans out because His plans are birthed in the mind of God, and His ways and thoughts are higher than my own. Meaning all of God’s ways and who He is–is beyond my human comprehension, for God sees the big picture. He is the Alpha and the Omega, and I trust in God to write my story, to carry me to the end because He is God and I am not.
The blessing of bowing and exposing my weaknesses instead of pretending to be strong is I find the joy and glory of hope. Because God’s grace makes me sufficient, and the beauty of admitting my need for God is that I look to God Almighty to act, fight, protect, and deliver me on His behalf. I have the joy of waiting with eager expectation to see what God will do and watch as He manifests His plans and promises in my life. Life becomes an adventure instead of a 100-meter sprint. I have to run over and over until I die of exhaustion. Thus, I learn how to take every new event at face value. I try, attempt, stumble and try again to submerge myself into the waters of unexpected surprises, awkward exchanges, novelty realizations, the joys of new friendships, and the victories of overcoming adversity.