Be, Not Do

Last weekend, when I was supposed to have posted this, I was at a young adult retreat out in the middle of nowhere. No signal, no wi-fi — only massive bugs that bit like none other. On my 4-hour drive down, I could see messages flashing on my phone – questions, comments, and concerns from students, their parents, and school staff. Because the retreat occurred over a long weekend, I was unable to work for almost 4 days, and it bothered me so badly that I sometimes found it difficult to focus on the sermons and enjoy “free time” with the other attendees.

So now I’m one week late in writing my VOICE blog post, it’s 5:20am, and I’m at the airport on half an hour of sleep. After a few more legs of flight, I’ll be in China for a two-week mission trip, teaching English in universities as a means to build relationships for Christ.

Six years ago, on the same mission trip, our missionary contact shared three words that I have since spoken to others and myself countless times: “be, not ‘do’.”

Be, not do.

This phrase may very well summarize my greatest struggle. My life has been about “doing” for as long as I can remember, and for anyone like me, society calls for a relatively-conservative, performance-based, Asian, female Christian to be nothing less.

This spring, after months of sleepless nights and early mornings and “almost-sick” and “still sick” and being stricken with deep fear to the point where I could only sit and think of how scared I was of every day, I took a week for recuperation. (Granted, it was Spring Break, so my break was mandatory, but.)

During that time, I pushed aside the majority of work waiting for me, read a few chapters from Shauna Neiquist’s “Present Over Perfect,” and went to a different church to escape “being” and to simply hear and be. And I heard. God knew what I needed to hear from Him because the pastor spoke on how fear is a result of pride, pride the child of a lack of humility, and humility only gained when we allow God to take complete control of our lives through daily surrender, basking in His word, and choosing to let go of any incidence that causes me to bristle in defense.

It’s been better, since. Better, but a far cry from the complete surrender I want in Christ.

Yet the more I see my human incapacity to let go of all the tangled threads I’m clinging to, the more I know that God does not call me to do anything by myself.

A snippet from one of the messages at the retreat reads: “Godly character finds its identity solely in the Lord your God.” My frazzled doing, if it fully believed that all my worth rested in what God has done, is doing, and will do for me, would morph into a trusting being.

In Christ, we are both called to strive 100% to complete the tasks He has given us and to allow God to take 100% control of all circumstances.

We are human beings, not human doings.

And so six years after the words “be, not do” were spoken into my life, I’m encouraged to know that in my constant struggle to surrender my fear and pride and idolization of control, God is slowly but surely working His will into my life. I have been called to complete the good works in Him that He ordained for me before creation, but I have been saved in grace and faith, and it. Is. Not. My. Own. Doing.

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