Escaping the “Try Hard” Trap

Escaping the “Try Hard” Trap

written by Laura Richardson July 9, 2019

“You can’t win them all.” Ever hear that? I have, and I hate it. Not only do I want to do it all, but I want to do it all perfectly. So is there a reason God gives us limitations?


From exercise plans that are not-so-routine to budgeting mistakes and relationship stumbles, I fail. Sometimes it feels like a little thing, other times not so much. And sometimes all the little failings collect in my heart and I’m convinced God could never use a life that feels this messy.

Most recently, I went through a breakup. The relationship was still pretty new, but I was also pretty sure it would last. Except it didn’t. It was supposed to be the next step on my journey and I believed God was with me in it. So when it fell through, I felt lost, doubting everything about my life.

An endless cycle

I could have rested on God’s promises and trusted that He still has lots of amazing gifts with my name on them, but I didn’t. Instead, I decided that I needed to prove myself to myself and also to everyone around me because I felt like a mess of a person. So for the past few weeks, I have found myself on an endless cycle of trying to do better, then failing, then shaming myself for those failures. Predictably, it only left me exhausted and discouraged.

Have you ever been there? Feeling like you’ve either torched God’s plan for your life or that He has forgotten you and there’s no clear way forward? Sister, I hear you. It can be a scary and frustrating place to be.

God is always in control

But over the past few days, God has reminded me of a very important truth, one I forgot when I was focused on proving myself: He never asked me to do life on my own. Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” So even when my hopes are disappointed and when I seem to fail in more ways than I can count, God is still in control. I am not wandering aimlessly in the dark when I hold on to Him.

I love the NLT version of Psalm 34, which says,

In my desperation, I prayed, and the Lord listened; He saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!
Fear the Lord, you His godly people,  for those who fear Him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,  but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

So when I feel abandoned by God, I have to remember His goodness and focus on His character because He never changes. Sisters, you are not alone. He will always be with you in the midst of it all.

Read also: Will I ever be enough?

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