As general rule, the harder you work to control things, the more you usually lose control. The harder you try to impress someone, the more you force the conversation and come across pushy or awkward. The harder you cling to a person, the more likely they are to pull away.
Sometimes trying harder helps. But what about:
Try harder to relax. Try harder to fall asleep. Try harder to not worry. Try harder to choose joy.
There are limits to trying harder. JOHN ORTBERG writes that
“often the people in the Gospels who got in the most trouble with Jesus were the ones who thought they were working hardest on their spiritual life. They were trying so hard to be good that they could not stop thinking about how hard they were trying. It got in the way of them loving people.”
The problem with always trying harder is that I get fixated on my own efforts. Often I grow judgmental. I capitalize on perfectionism, and find myself spending too many moments in comparison.
Maybe instead of making grand gestures to God, I should surrender my will to the Spirit for just today. Softer.
Trying softer means focusing more on God’s goodness than our efforts. It means being more relaxed and less self-concious. Less pressured. When I try softer, it leaves more room for humility and grace. It means asking God for help.
If trying harder is producing growth in your spiritual life, keep it up, friend. But if it isn’t, meditate with me on this.
A little softer.