Finally, after three months of working long hours i’ve earned this vacation.
I need to earn enough money so I can live the life i’ve always dreamed.
If I work really really hard on this, he’ll have to notice my hard work, and finally i’ll earn his approval.
I only need two more baskets to beat my scoring record, then i’ll earn their respect.
They probably don’t want me around, but if I try hard enough to fit in, i’ll earn my place here.
If I win this competition, that’ll earn me bragging rights forever.
If i’m good enough, I’ll earn their love.
Our lives are marked by performance. By earning. An incredible amount of our self-worth comes from the grades we get, the things we achieve, the job we have, the places we go… It seems that the main goal of our existence is to earn our right to do just that… exist.
In your school
In a sport
In your job
In your family
It often revolves around the earning of something.
Performance can be an amazing outcome of the different gifts and skills that we have inside of us, but why do we feel like we have to earn everything?
Why do we have to earn respect?
Why do we have to earn the right to rest?
When we are always trying so hard to make ourselves count, to make our lives count for something, do we ever see our value in just existing?
What happens when we fall short?
What happens when our crutch of performance can’t hold us up?
I like to be that person who can fix things. The one to save the day when something goes wrong, or the one to pull through when no one thought it could happen. I like the shock factor of creating something amazing, and I like when i’m the one who was able to make something successful.
Sometimes it’s a good thing. I really do like to help, and seeing others having a great time because of something that i’ve worked hard on does bring me joy.
But it also can be the way I try to earn acceptance. I can work myself into the ground and make my exhaustion visible, in order to earn awe and sympathy.
I can depend on what I bring to the table as the only way I have any value. That if I were to take a break, or rest, my presence wouldn’t be needed.
Maybe you feel that way during sports. Maybe you feel that in order to earn love and acceptance, you have to be the best. For every goal you score or race you win, you’ll be that much more valued.
Maybe you earn value through school.
Maybe you don’t feel valued at all because of what you haven’t done.
Maybe you think if you were just good enough at something than you would be deserving of love.
But you can’t earn it.
Although our lives may revolve around performance, you can still be at your absolute best as you rest.
Think back to when you were a kid. Maybe you haven’t felt like a kid for a while, but back in the day before you began the cycle of performance, there was a time where you happily accepted love as it came, and expected it to return each day.
You didn’t know yet what you were good at, or what you were here for, but it didn’t matter because someone provided for you, and you accepted everything that was given. You screamed for attention when you wanted it, you cried for sleep when you needed it, and you yearned for love and affection to comfort you.
In those times, there was nothing you did or needed to do to earn those things.
And you need to still believe that to be true now.
Love is something that exists outside of performance. It isn’t a reward, it isn’t the finish line, it isn’t acceptance.
Love isn’t a result of your hard work, nor is it recognition of what you’ve done.
Love isn’t held for those who succeed, nor is it saved for those who come out ahead.
If your relationships are built on love as a reward, they can’t sustain the pressure of performance.
There are people in your life who love you when you are contributing nothing. When you aren’t the best at something, when you fail, when you lose, or when you don’t have the answer.
Maybe they don’t say it. Maybe you don’t say it either.
Maybe this is the first time you’ve been told that you have value outside of everything you will ever do. But it’s true. It is so hard to believe, and I have to remind myself everyday that it’s true.
But you need to believe it. You need to be free to do what you love, and to love what you do, but know that you don’t need to do it to be loved.