There is a tunnel called chaos. Have you ever been in it? It’s a place where you get lost in an endless feeling of never enough – never enough time, never enough resources, never enough support, never enough people, never enough. This tunnel of chaos makes you feel like you are running, running, running without an end in sight. In this tunnel, sometimes it seems like you could maybe try to step out of the race for a minute, but then you immediately think: “Who would I be? And how would I know if I were worthy of love and belonging?” All of your life you’ve proven your worth through striving and performing. You are a capable one, you are a talented one, you are a strong and able person. You’ve got this, you’ve always got this.
In the beginning it was fun. You felt a surge of energy to be able to offer something of value to the world, but then over time it felt more like an addiction than a calling, and now it’s just a habit. This is how you live: busy, driven, preoccupied, isolated, addicted. Addicted to outcomes, addicted to work, addicted to an image of perfection. Perfect leader, perfect parent, perfect online profile, perfect life. You don’t like to admit it, but you’re addicted to proving your worth through performance. When people ask, “How are you doing?” you answer, “Busy,” and if they probe further, you honestly don’t know the answer.
Of course, it’s not always that way. Moments of honesty, vulnerability, and truth make you long for more. The tunnel of chaos that initially felt so thrilling has gotten increasingly dissatisfying. You want something truer, less forced, less phony. You want to shed the racing gear that has served you well through your 20’s and maybe your 30’s, but it is hard and scary, because who will you be without those clothes? Will you be enough without the pretending and performing? What if people think you’re a slacker? And since all of the running involves using and sharing your “spiritual gifts,” would it be spiritually irresponsible to slow down?
This conundrum is part of growing up. Richard Rohr said, “Unless you ‘weep’ over your own phoniness, hypocrisy and wounded-ness, you probably will not let go of the first half of life.”
Maturity feels like leaving our false selves for our true selves. Maturity involves leaving the tunnel of chaos filled with rat races and hamster wheels to enter the unknown land of your good and worthy self in Christ. Discipleship includes realizing that you were born worthy of love and belonging, not because of what you can do, but because of who you are. It takes courage and daring to live with your whole heart wide open to God, without any pretense or performance layers, but the gifts of such vulnerability are rest and contentment.