The Art of Not Trying Too Hard

To say that nothing is required of us in the spiritual journey, that we are only passive bystanders, seems to me to not be accurate, but almost simultaneously (and seemingly contradictorily) it seems obvious from my perspective that if we try too hard, we will end up hypocrites and blind guides instead of bearers of light, filled with a Divine Love.

It’s easy to become confused given our (or at least my) ‘western world’ perspective on things. Capitalism encourages (forces) the idea of upward movement and mobility. To be “on top” is desired above nearly anything else. We have sayings like, “Win at all costs” and often exercise this idea, putting victory (accumulation of money, stuff, accolades and social position) before the cultivation of meaningful relationships or love and care for others and self. We have a community (America) packed with over-worked, stressed-out, love and fun deprived families and individuals who seem to have no time for actually living a full, vibrant life (never mind spiritual pursuits or cultivation of a deeper, more fulfilling inner experience or sense of self). We have forgotten, or more likely never known, the reality of the words of Jesus who, trying to guide us into divine relationship and life, said, “The yolk is easy and the burden is light.” Does life as a light, joy-filled, relationship-rich journey seem to describe your experience?

There is a place we can come to exist where our hearts are full of joy, our words are kind, our hands are generous, and seeing beauty in others is our natural response to anyone we may encounter. This is the easy and light burden Jesus encouraged us to bear. I have a feeling Jesus moved slowly; unhurried in all he did. You can’t live or love well if you are in a rush. You can’t find beauty in others if you’re thinking only of how they can be of benefit to you. When Jesus spent time with sinners (the broken people around him), he didn’t do it because they needed saving, he did it because they were worthy of loving. He saw something Beautiful in each of them that he felt was worthy of his time; a Beauty that could manifest through them if only he’d speak into their lives, give them time, and meet them where they were at.

If we are going to grow spiritually, if our hearts are to expand, it will not come through trying harder. More classes, reading, debating, conferences, adherence to rules, or more deeply establishing our already established notions of things, will not bring us to a new state of enlightenment. The journey is freer than that. The path to becoming like God (the Christian or “Christ-Like” pursuit) is one of starting to love more, not learn more; for as scripture states “God is Love.” We start by loving our friends and family and eventually and continually can grow in love to the extent that we love all people and creation. The journey of learning to see more clearly happens one day and one relationship at a time. One kind word and one generous act at a time. To be like Jesus (my personal pursuit) has little to do with accumulating more knowledge, much to do with seeing God (Love, Beauty) everywhere we look.

Live slowly, love richly and always remember not to try too hard.