This year’s Thrive Conference is a celebration of God’s audacious love: What it looks like, how it overcomes our greatest fears, and how it inspires us. We’re thrilled to announce that, in conjunction with the conference, we’ll be releasing a NEW devotional! On this 31-day devotional journey, you’ll discover the meaning, power, and purpose of God’s audacious love—and be inspired to share it with the world. Want a sneak peek? Join us from now until the conference as we reveal snippets each week. And don’t forget to join us for the Thrive Conference!

Audacious Love Inspires Me to Rest

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” Matthew 11:28 (MSG)

The day I realized I was depressed wasn’t at all what I would have expected. It was a beautiful June day, and I was fresh off a weekend retreat with some of my favorite people. I should have arrived home happy, energized, even relieved that the retreat project I’d been working on for months had been a huge success. But standing at the kitchen sink, I stared down into the drain and let it wash over me for the first time.

I didn’t feel refreshed or accomplished. I felt mind-numb exhausted and soul-numb sad.

Part of me had hoped this weekend away was going to be what “fixed” me. Leading up to the retreat, I knew I was tired. And I knew the degree to which I was pushing myself was hurting me physically. So I cut a few stressful things out of my schedule. But this little getaway—time away from home and daily responsibilities, loving and serving others—felt like the perfect recipe for overcoming the “blues” that had been dogging me for months.

Arriving at the retreat, I decided I needed to get busy if I was going to kick this thing. I spent the next three days chasing what I felt I’d lost, searching for my old self, trying whatever I thought might help me ditch the perpetual chill that had settled just under my skin.

Lists. Maybe I need more lists. There’s just so much to do. So I wrote tasks down and crossed them off, trying to stay one step ahead of the darkness.

Hugs. I like hugs. Maybe I just need more hugs. So I pulled friends close and grasped for warmth.

Naps. Yes, I’m sure a nap is just the thing. So I cozied up to my pillow and stared at the wall, telling myself I’d feel better if I could just turn it all off for a few minutes.

But back at home, as I plucked a runaway blueberry out of the sink drain, I realized none of it had worked.

I couldn’t outrun, out-hug, or out-nap this thing.

I needed to rest.

I had been working myself into the ground, inadvertently slipping into a pattern of fighting for God’s favor, feeling the need to prove myself over and over again.

Psalm 103:11 (CEV) says, “How great is God’s love for all who worship him? Greater than the distance between heaven and earth.”

Likewise, Romans 8:39 (NLT) says, “Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.”

And 1,600 years ago, St. Augustine wrote, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

We humans certainly have reason to be confident in God’s love. But we have never been able to wrap our minds around this concept for long. Instead, we’ve spent our entire history trying to prove our worth.

Is there anything more audacious, or more difficult, than believing God’s love for us isn’t tied to anything we do?

Depression can make a person feel very small, like they’re shrinking. I get it now, that feeling of little pieces of yourself dropping off here and there—pieces you’ve come to depend on. During a difficult moment, you look for your right hand—your usual optimism, patience, tenacity—and find it gone.

But in a world that screams for more and bigger and better things, maybe one of the most audacious moves we can make is to become small—to stop chasing greatness and start bending low, stop trying to climb higher and start realizing a mountaintop was never the goal.

So I began.

I audaciously folded laundry and cleaned peanut butter off sticky little fingers, and I remembered that a good life is made mostly of being grateful and graceful in the seemingly endless tiny moments.

I audaciously sat on the deck with a good book and a big glass of water, and I learned that sunshine, hydration, and a story with a happy ending are great medicine.

I audaciously felt my big scary feelings and began listening to my body, addressing the physical aspect of my situation.

I audaciously looked for a big God in small places—in my sink full of dirty dishes, on my yoga mat, between my tomato plants—and I found him there, holding out the little pieces of me that had dropped off.

And I continue to audaciously forgive myself when I fall, when I fail at it all a million times, when the darkness creeps close.

I nestle into a Big Brave Love that says it’s okay to be small.

It’s okay to be broken.

It’s okay to rest.

Because there’s no way to earn what has already been given.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:

Have you ever found yourself chasing approval from God or other people? Where did it lead you?

Recall a time you felt small or maybe even broken. Read Psalm 103:11-18. How does an understanding of God’s audacious love affect your outlook on challenging situations to come? How might it impact your future goals and plans?

What is one way you can “be small” today to remind yourself of God’s no-strings-attached love?

Jen Spiegel

Author Jen Spiegel

Jen is a wife and mother of three and work as a medical editor. A cancer survivor, special needs mom, and sociologist by degree, Jen is passionate about natural health, the power of storytelling, and choosing hope and gratefulness even on the tough days. In spare moments, she enjoys reading voraciously, making music with friends, and indulging her travel and adventure bug.

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