By Janelle Baker
Have you ever felt this way? Where did this belief develop? I reflect on my youth and notice how my interpretation of my experiences in my own youth somehow reinforced this belief.
I began playing softball at the age of six and played competitively up through college. I played the position of the pitcher. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed how I can still automatically play the role of the pitcher as I connect some of my perceived self reliance from that place on the mound. I felt the pressure to pitch strikes over and over and I did again and again.
I can remember being very present in the moment. Carrying all of that pressure, focusing on the task, holding the ball the same exact way every time by feeling the stitches of the leather go in a certain direction, then throw that pitch. Driving the lead in the defensive game, receiving praise and great sense of accomplishment for the strikes, and crowd sighs for balls, and a very large enormous portion of not wanting to ever disappoint others.
The victories were temporary. Each inning that mound waiting for me, again and again. The longer lasting effects however could be described as self induced pressure, perfectionistic, the expectations I have for myself, retracting back into isolation into a story of perceived aloneness, self reliance and a belief that others only value me if I have the perfect pitch.
I think back to the scripture in Matthew 11:-29-30. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
Why did Jesus say his yoke is easy and his burden is light? Jesus recognized that his listeners would know how a yoke keeps two oxen together as they plow the fields for a new season of crop planting. The stronger ox leads the weaker ox, one row at a time toward the completion of their task. Humans are unquestionably the weaker ox in this illustration, as we stumble and fall short, which raises the provoking question, what am I yoking to? Is it with God and his provision?, or in my own strength?
Only within the awareness of seeing what we were are operating out of, we can then actually choose. I can choose to lay down the self pressure, the fear of disappointing others, lay down the self flattery, lay down the the lie that I don’t need others. Lay down that I can do it all myself from the mound. I can yolk with God and allow him to guide me and provide provision. I am only then in relationship and community. Not alone on the mound.
We were created for relationship. I invite you to ponder the same, what are you yolking to? His leading us? Our own strengths ? Performance?