If I Try Hard Enough

I’m learning that the belief “If I try harder, I will succeed,” fuels a godless, exhausting way to live… even if it does make me a fiercely competitive rock climber. I intend to replace it with, “If I turn to God, We will succeed.” What lies fuel your patterns of behavior? Is there a lie in particular, — one that may have even helped you in your life so far — that can be replaced by a better, more empowering truth?


Video Transcript (edited):

I just began reading Walking with God by John Eldridge. I’m only at the introduction, but already I think I’m going to love the book. In there he writes some of the false thoughts that go through our minds, and one of those thoughts resonated with me in a deep way! The thought is “if only I try harder, I can succeed.” That statement is a deep-rooted belief for me! I think it is responsible for much of my behavior and much of my success in life.

My mom used to tell me a story from when I was eight months old. She was arguing with my Dad while she spoon-fed me. As their argument escalated, her attention shifted from me to my Dad. I became so frustrated at the gaps between bites that I took over. I grabbed the spoon and fed myself for the first time.

There is my first life lesson in, “If I try harder, I will succeed."

Later, in college and my early twenties I loved rock climbing, the kind of climbing with ropes, straight up a sheer cliff or maybe an overhang. I discovered that I was determined beyond reason to finish a climb. I did not give up. Multiple times I stayed on a climb, pushing past the point of pain, past the point where my muscles were burning and screaming at me to quit, past the point where more reasonable climbers would quit or take a break. Eventually, there came a point where my muscles physically gave out. The collapse was sudden, shocking and without my control. As in, my brain and will were still issuing the command to climb, while my muscles simply gave out. My hands were so useless that even after lowering to the ground, I was unable to undo the ropes to get out of the harness. My muscles just didn’t work anymore. I had exhausted everything that they could do, and I could not climb again that day.

The thing is, while this belief has motivated me to be successful is many areas of my life, it also drives me to push myself and even those around me beyond reasonable limits. My husband is calmer in his life approach. He usually takes things one step at a time, and quits “while he’s ahead,” so to speak. As in, before his muscles give out and before his body collapses. I see the wisdom of my husband’s way, yet I have continued to value my unflagging determination. But in this book, John Eldridge explains that “I can do it myself” success pulls me away from God.

And the thing is, I’ve been noticing God teaching me the same lesson. I shared on another video that a few weeks ago God showed me how I push. In a beautiful, uncharacteristic pattern of behavior, I responded by saying, “OK God, I see this, will You fix it?” and He said, “Yes, I will. But not now.” So I let it go. And now, over the past few weeks, God has been teaching me the anti-pushing lessons through a variety of experiences. Including this book.

My goal is to stop trying harder and instead turn to God.

For example. A month or two ago I had a job in my church that wasn’t going well. At first I responded by turning to God. He gave me clear direction, and the ending was lovely, with results I didn’t expect and a fantastic return on investment. Later the job became difficult again, and this time I reverted to old habits. I tried harder instead of turning to God. It did not go well. I ended up frustrated, exhausted, and grouchy.

I saw the contrast again recently with physical illness. I got sick and turned to my own wisdom or the wisdom of the world, trying harder to get better, instead of turning to God. This place of trying harder is an uncomfortable place. A place where my body gets tired, exhausted and shut down. A place where I kick against the pricks, and fight just to make a little progress. A place where other people get exhausted too.

So, the lie is “If I try hard enough, I will succeed.” The truth to replace that lie is “If I turn to God, We will succeed.”

My question for you: Have you become aware of the lies that fuel your patterns of behavior? Is there a lie in particular, — one that may have even helped you in your life so far — that can give way to a better, more empowering truth?

That’s all for now.

Keep shining!


Popular Posts