At What Cost?

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

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Jocelyn came down to dinner last night saying, “I’m so stressed out! I’m trying to do my homework the way the teacher told me to, but I forget some of what he said.”

My response was that all she could do was the best she could do. She’s doing well in school and has excellent grades. The purpose of homework is to practice what you learn. It’s also good feedback for the teacher to see where she needs help.

It’s as if she didn’t hear me, and responded, “I want to do really well. There’s this girl in my class who’s so smart. She gets amazing grades. I want to be like her. I’m so stressed out!”

She wouldn’t step away from the cliff until I asked, “At what cost? What’s the point of trying so hard if it just leaves you stressed out and miserable all the time? That’s no way to live.”

A day later, my own words are ringing in my ears.

Jocelyn’s classmate may be the one Jocelyn’s trying to emulate now, but I’m certain she got her compulsion to strive from me. I’m always seeking to do better, be better, help more, achieve more. That may be a noble pursuit, but at what cost?

When our days are spent in the quest for perfection, juggling everything at the highest caliber possible, our shoulder muscles are tense, our breathing is shallow, and a low-grade ache hums in our head. Do we think, for even one second, that’s how God created us to be?

Jesus didn’t die on the cross so we could look at all the ways we fall short, and forge ahead, pursuing perfection. God already made us perfect. Jesus died on the cross to redeem and reclaim that perfection for us. The rest is all trappings.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross so we could look at all the ways we fall short, and forge ahead, pursuing perfection. God already made us perfect.

So, the next time our kids, or we, are stressed out and striving, we need to call it like it is: just wasted energy stealing our lives, lives that Jesus paid an enormous ransom to save. We can’t let His sacrifice be in vain.

Questions for Reflection:

  • Am I fueled by stress, letting the pursuit of perfection dictate my days?
  • Or am I fueled by gratitude, basking in the gift of the life Jesus reclaimed for me?

4 thoughts on “At What Cost?

    • Amen to that, Jess! There’s a reason Jocelyn’s words resonated with me. I’ve been a mess of stress ever since my computer got wiped clean on Monday. I keep trying to put it in perspective, but it’s an uphill battle.


  1. Beautiful reminder, Claire, through the honest angst of your beautiful Jocelyn,
    that striving anxiously, stressfully, stubbornly for perfection goes against every
    teaching Jesus taught!!! Each of us, when giving in to such energy, that’s so readily at our doors in any given situation, become our own versions of Martha, whom Jesus truly loved, but whom He challenged to stop worrying and being so frenzied to get that meal just perfect!!! Your question to Jocelyn, “At what cost?” we each need to ask daily of ourselves, remembering what Jesus did to restore our inheritance as daughters and sons within His perfect kingdom, as our loving Father originally planned!


    • So true, Jackie! Constant striving does go against what Jesus taught. And your tie in of Martha is perfect. It seems this Martha is raising a mini-Martha. God willing, I can help us both get closer to our Mary side.


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