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What does God want from me?

by Alyssa Robinson

I tend to put too much pressure on myself. I’m always looking to what’s next and examining the things left undone. At work, home, or even with hobbies, once I finish a project, I’m immediately reflecting on how I could have done it better. Historically, I’ve put everything I have into everything I do, and that worked for me for a long time – until it didn’t. Like many people, I powered through the pandemic and thought I was doing okay. Then in June of 2021, I hit an emotional wall. I felt burned out in my job, I isolated socially, and I experienced a deep depression like I had never felt before. That depression began far sooner than I realized, but that’s a different story for a different time.

My entire life I’ve been told things like, “just do your best” or “give it your best shot.” I know they’re meant to be comforting phrases, simply encouraging people to try their hardest today. But in this performative, overly productive culture we live in, doing my best everyday started to feel daunting and exhausting.

I just want a break. I want to sit in contentment. I want to stop looking to the future and enjoy the present. I want to be unambitious and feel okay about it.

Do you ever feel this way?

These feelings apply to my spiritual life, too. In the Methodist tradition, we embrace spiritual practices. I’m encouraged to work on my prayer life, read more scripture, participate in worship, volunteer, serve, join a small group, and more. These are great aspirations, but as a person who puts too much pressure on herself, sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the perceived responsibilities of being a Christian.

I start to feel like it’s never enough. I’ll never be in scripture enough. I’ll never pray enough. I’ll never volunteer enough. Then guilt starts to set in. For example, if I don’t go to church for a few Sundays, I feel like when I return, I need to have a good excuse ready for why I wasn’t there. Guilt is followed by resentment. If I’m feeling overwhelmed and guilty at the same time, I’ll become resentful when people ask me to volunteer – and then I feel guilty for feeling that way. It starts to feel like a never-ending cycle until I break down and ask, “What does God want from me?”

Jesus gave us beautiful messages of God’s grace, forgiveness, love, and mercy in so many different ways.  In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus delighted in rest and encouraged us to step away, leave our chores undone, and simply sit at the feet of God. And somehow, I still manage to turn it into a spiritual to-do list that needs to be completed and perfected.

What does God want from me?

I know I’m not the first person to ask this question, and I’ve heard many pastors respond with Micah 6:8:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good,
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice and to love kindness
    and to walk humbly with your God?

But I think when we pull one verse out of scripture, we miss the magnitude of the message. There are 3 verses in this section of scripture, which is entitled, What God Requires:

With what shall I come before the Lord
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O mortal, what is good,
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice and to love kindness
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Seeing the full message strikes an emotional chord with me. The writer is basically asking…What does God want from me? When have I given enough? Tell me the tangible things I need to check off my list! So relatable.

And the response is intangibles that, on one hand, feel so much more complex, but on the other hand, perfectly describe the God I want to know. Did you notice that it ends with a question mark?

One of the things I love about the mystery of God, but can also feel infuriating at times, is that there are no easy answers. These verses are a beautiful reminder that it’s okay to remove the structures and systems that society has placed on you. It’s okay to let go of institutional rules of religion. It's okay to ask questions. God is not giving us a grade, performance review, or final exam at the end of this life.

I personally need “walk humbly with your God” as a daily mantra. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t understand how this world works. I need help, and I need guidance.

Rev. Karen Chraska and I had a deep conversation about this topic in the Life+God Podcast. Listen below or wherever you get your podcasts and ask yourself, “What does God want from me?”

Posted by Alyssa Robinson at 2:35 PM
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