Friday, August 14, 2009

Teach Us to Sit Still

Hello. My name is Leta, and I’m an overachiever.

This is not a new revelation for me. It’s something I’ve been working to change for a long time. (Please note the irony that I’m working on not working too hard.)

Even though I’ve known this for a long time, it hit me anew the other night, when one of my friends commented, “You know, all of the really good things that have happened to me have just happened. I didn’t do anything to make them happen.”

The truth of what she said struck me immediately. In my life, as in hers, good things have come when I haven’t expected them, much less deserved them. So I asked myself, once more, why on earth I keep trying so hard. I have seen, again and again, that blessings are just waiting for me to stop running after them.

Jesus promised, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). Whatever yoke it is that I keep trying to carry, it is obviously not this one. I want this one.

I’ve decided to give up on praying that God will help me to achieve whatever little goal I’ve decided that I must achieve next. Now I’m praying a new prayer. Lord, give me the grace to stop trying so hard.

While I in no way endorse some aspects of T.S. Eliot’s life and thought (and I frankly don’t understand many others), lately I've found myself praying these words along with him:
I no longer strive to strive towards such things….
And I pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain….
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will…
-- “Ash-Wednesday”
This is what I want, and this, I believe, is what God wants for me.

The first of the 12 steps of recovery programs is to admit that we can’t control the things that control us, that we are powerless over our own lives. I’ve decided to take that step—to stop running around frantically trying to fix everything.

Lord, teach me to sit still.


  1. Hey Leta...I read this after seeing your facebook post and it was quite timely. I'm just finishing a book called the "Accidental Asian" by Eric Liu who talks a little about the stigma of "overachievers." He makes something of a joke concerning the idea that someone can achieve more than a set amount or acceptable limit of achievement...I don't think I ever pondered the idea of "over achievement" much until today, really. Perhaps "over" should not be allowed to precede "achieve." After all, would we be where we are if we didn't strive for more?
    But if you hope to stop trying too hard, I hope you are successful in your endeavor! :)

  2. Thanks, Neesha! I think, really, what I'm trying to change is my attitude toward achievement, rather than trying to stop achieving, if that makes sense. :)