I often compare the risk of releasing a book with jumping off a cliff. I don’t know what waits over the edge, how far I’ll drop, or how I’ll land.
As I prepared for Write without Crushing Your Soul to release, I had an epiphany of sorts: anything related to my work isn’t an actual cliff. Yes, my work is important, but the stakes aren’t “cliff jumping” high.
A major challenge at work or with a family member or some other situation in life may appear to be a leap off a cliff. It may feel like a major leap in the moment. The reality is that such situations are more of a ledge or a wall, not a massive leap into the unknown that could make or break us.
I have made the mistake of assuming too much was riding on the success of my work.
My work is important, but it’s not a cliff.
The cliff I’ve had to jump of off, sometimes every day, revolves around my identity, whether I know that I am God’s beloved, and whether I can let something wholly beyond myself carry me to safety when I leap.
Each day I can find my identity in my work, in what other people think of me, or in some other talent or skill. I can take the leap into my day and expect these accomplishments or people to carry me to safety.
Richard Rohr reminds us that you can’t really do anything to find your true self in God. You can only nurture it and give it room to take hold in your life.
Each day I’m faced with a decision to work harder at validating my identity or resting deeper in my identity as God’s beloved.
Life can be terrifying sometimes. We face pain, loss, disappointment, and struggle. We can feel like we’ll never dig ourselves out of the mountain of work, debt, and failure we’ve amassed.
As I jump off the cliff, the reality I am slow to realize is this: I am already held even before my feet leave the ground. I am held safe in Christ as his beloved child, and if that isn’t good enough before I jump, it sure won’t be good enough after I jump.
Every failure, every stumble, every time we fall flat on our faces after a giant leap is painful, but these are never the end.
Write without Crushing Your Soul is primarily addressed to writers, but the central message in this book extends to any kind of work that threatens to supplant your identity as God’s beloved.
Sustainable work that doesn’t crush our souls means we fight tooth and nail to preserve a place where God can whisper the truth about ourselves.
Sustainable work means we stop listening to every self-crowned master, expert, super-ninja, and high flying CEO who weigh us down with impossible to-do lists and impossible goals that may well only crush our souls.
Sustainable work means we work to set and reset boundaries and more limited goals because we understand that our calling to work is below our calling to God and our calling to others.
Failure isn’t just an option. It’s inevitable. And when you do fail at your work, there’s nothing that can touch the furious longing of God for you. There’s nothing about your work that has to end your relationships.
You are held and loved today, so take the leap, use your talents to do your best work possible, and don’t worry about the moment after you jump.
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