The ring of one of those generic alarms sounds in my ears. I should probably get up and get going if I want my day to look anything like productive and if I want to be at work by 8:30. I hit snooze instead. Just a few more minutes. The same alarm sounds 15 minutes later. I open my eyes. While still laying in bed, I stretch all the way from my toes to the tips of my fingertips. I don’t want to leave this bed. I turn over, grab my glasses, smudged with yesterday’s dog sniffles and fingerprints. As I get up and rub the crusties out of my eyes, my body is slowly awakening. I grab my pink polka dot robe that I’ve had since my freshman year of college and wrap it around myself as I shuffle across the hard wood floors to our living room that is just slightly colder than the rest of our house. As the dawn of this new day is almost too eagerly approaching, I grab my lighter and light a single candle, smelling of hazelnut coffee and a little vanilla. I know my day is about to be filled with meetings, emails, lots of details, and a few frustrations, but in that moment with that single flame, I invite the Light into my day.
In that small moment to begin my day, I take a breath.
I recently made a late night discovery. One of those where I was laying in bed and nearly gob-smacked my spouse because of its magnitude. I discovered that I am a 3 on the enneagram instead of a 2, which is what I believed I was for nearly 3 years. This was huge for me because once I discovered this, things started making sense. My incessant desire to accomplish, my fear of looking like I’ve failed, my need to find value and meaning in all things and even myself, those all made sense. My never ending sense of striving to cope with the fact that I don’t feel like I am enough, and that I don’t believe I will ever be enough for the people in my life, for the things I am tasked with, for God. I was given a lens into my own soul that late night.
Striving has always been my way of forging forward. Somewhere along the way I discovered that I am only as good as my latest accomplishment. I am only valuable if my life looks a certain way, and that way is usually success, beauty, and qualities worthy of admiration. When I had this realization I started paying attention. I started noticing the striving even more. Then, I started to notice the unrest in my soul. I never rested. I’ve never truly rested because I am always moving on, striving for the next thing to be accomplished, the image I project to be maintained. That striving infiltrates even the corners of my life that I would love to keep protected, leading me to forget the truths that actually tell me what I am to believe about myself. Leading me to trust the darkness, even though I know very well that is not of God.
But each morning that I light my candle, I remember. And I take a breath. In that breath, I sense God releasing me from striving, at least for a moment. The Light reminds me that the darkness is not the Way. That by inviting Spirit’s presence into my day, I create margins that my striving is required to remain within. I light my candle, and my sense of not-good-enoughness doesn’t cease, but it doesn’t rule me. I don’t strive in that moment. I just exist. And I breathe.