I’m a hustler. I grind through the week with the intention of working my butt off in every single area of my life that I feel called to grow in. My early mornings are scheduled appointments with my Creator, to be reminded daily of His greatness amidst my everyday weaknesses. My marriage, my family and my home are sacred; so I work to keep them Spirit focused, healthy and full of love. I strive to be the best I can be at my job; being efficient and accurate, productive and precise – that’s the goal. In the gym, I make it a priority to push myself, because I know that physical strength and healthy habits aren’t given, but earned through tons of sweat, consistency and a whole lot of swear words.
Those four things that I have listed, even though they may not seem like much, take up an entire day. Do I execute them all perfectly? LOL – not even close! I’m not telling you this because I think your priorities should match up with mine. I’m telling you this because my definition of “hustle” used to fit the standards of this world rather than that of my Maker. Do you want to know what I think our definition of “hustle” should be? Hustle happens when a strong, secure woman is seeking the voice of Jesus in her life and allowing Him to list her requirements, rather than striving to fulfill the requests of the world around her. She is content and fearless in her ability to say “no” to commitments that take time away from the areas in her life that Jesus is calling her to step into. She finds peace in knowing that the opinion of her Maker far outweighs those of the people around her who don’t understand her “no”. She hustles toward grace and stillness, and finds her worth in Jesus as she draws closer to Him and further away from the chains of busyness. Her focus is locked with intensity on the eyes of her Creator and what He is requiring of her in this season of life, while everything else fades into the background without anxiety or worry.
So how do we move toward this version of “hustle” and away from the lie that the busier we are, the more productive we are? We get really comfortable with being uncomfortable.
The Lord has been hardcore challenging me in this area of my life recently and let me tell you, it hasn’t been easy! When I began waking up every Monday, dreading my week and feeling spiritually, physically and mentally anxious and exhausted, I knew that something needed to change. I was running on empty, and even though I was constantly moving, I really wasn’t accomplishing anything. The impact I was making on the world around me was slim to none because I was giving my attention to everything, so that when it came to the things that actually deserve my time, I was too exhausted to deal with them! When it came to saying “no”, I struggled with it because I felt selfish and I was afraid of what that person on the reciprocating end of my answer was going to think. When I finally sat down defeatedly one early morning and asked the Lord why I always felt so drained… He whispered, “Where are you putting your focus?” The four things listed above are non-negotiable – things that I truly believe that Jesus has called me to center my focus on in this season of my life. If there is a commitment taking me away from one of these four things, I am making it a goal to say “no” and trust that this is where He has me right now. Does it mean I don’t make time for friends or take a weekend to go out and have fun? No! It simply means that there is a purpose behind my “yes” and a personal intention behind every “no”.
If you get on dictionary.com and type in the word “hustle”, it literally says, ”to push or force one’s own way; to jostle or shove.” Um, what? That sounds exhausting! This word has become an anthem in our culture for those of us who like to take pride in our stride, rather than revel in our rest. Let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with working hard – I am all for it! I start to have a problem with it when you begin to break your back trying desperately to please everyone else around you, rather than lining up your priorities with what God is requiring of you. There is no pride to be taken in working yourself so hard into the ground that you find yourself spiritually, physically and mentally drained at the end of every single day, struggling to accomplish things that you have no business pursuing. We’ve started wearing busyness like a gold medal around our necks because we fear what might happen when we stop to look at ourselves in the stillness. We should fear the lack of stillness because it creates an absence of Jesus’ voice in our lives. When we get in the habit of saying “yes” to everything and everyone, we are training our minds to say “no” to the stillness and true peace of God. We grow the most when we are seeking His voice, and you cannot find the time to do that if you are constantly running a race He hasn’t called you to run. So, yes, work as hard as you can at the things you feel called to chase, but do so with the fuel you’ve gathered from spending time in the presence of Jesus. Not because someone else has placed a request on you that you’ve turned into an unnecessary requirement.
I’m going to tell you something that I don’t believe to be a popular opinion, but I feel like you need to it hear anyway. It is not selfish to say “no”. Do you want to know what is selfish? Thinking you are entitled to be enough for everything and everyone in your life, all at once. You were not meant to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, and you certainly are not required to pour all of yourself into every single opportunity or commitment that comes your way. People can be draining – yep, I said it! Guess what? If there is a toxic person in your life that is constantly feeding off of your emotional energy, you have the power to respectfully set healthy boundaries and say “no”. If that person doesn’t understand and disrespects your boundaries, then that is more of a reflection of their heart than it is of yours. To put it bluntly, that’s their own problem and you have no business making it your business! What’s even better, is that when you shift your focus on Jesus and His requirements for you, loving the people around you becomes so much easier. You stop putting the pressure on yourself to be enough for the person in front of you, and you are able to pour out that love freely because you understand that it’s not up to you to make that person whole. The fear of not pleasing everyone around you is keeping you from experiencing the Lord in a very personal and intimate way. If you are ignoring the call to reprioritize your life based on what Jesus has set before you, then that’s your choice. I’m going to be the first to tell you, though, that on the other side of your fear of displeasing could be some seriously cool doors that the Lord can’t wait to open for you. By learning to say “no”, guilt-free, you might actually have the energy to walk right through them!
I’m heading into a season of life where I’m leaving the guilt of my “no” behind, and stepping fully into the freedom it truly offers me. I am learning to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and taking a stand against society’s definition of “hustle”. There is a purpose behind every single “no” because I now walk with the steady truth that behind it lies a “yes” that is going to bring Jesus the glory. I can now run the race He has set before me with intent focus and peace because I’m not constantly distracted with the fear of missing out or the guilt of declining an invitation. Do I still fight the guilt of “no” and struggle with what that person may think of me? Yes! But I am choosing to hold fast to the immovable truth that His gentle voice is more important to me than the things around me screaming for my attention.
So, I leave you with a challenge this week – seek Jesus. If you are finding yourself like me, depleted and anxious, I encourage you to ask Him to realign your focus with what He is requiring of you in your current season of life. What if you miss out? What if they don’t understand? What if they think you’re boring? What if they call you selfish? What if, behind your fear of letting go of unnecessary requests, lies your purpose? I’d say that’s something worth being temporarily uncomfortable for.