Mary Marantz grew up in a single-wide trailer on the top of a mountain in rural West Virginia, before eventually making it all the way to Yale Law School. But what she discovered once she got there was this: what if “success” was where the real trouble began? What if you spend your whole life running from your story, trying to achieve your way into worth, only to get everything you ever wanted… and still not feel like you’re enough? These questions led her to write her brand new book about being a person of purpose in an overachieving world. It’s a grace to welcome Mary to the farm’s front porch today…
If you run from your story long enough, sooner or later you are going to find yourself at a place in the road where you thought you would be further along by now.
It will begin with the appearance of tiny mile markers tucked just off to the side of the path, barely even visible for having gotten lost somewhere in the overgrown weeds. But as you tread along, the sound of your own two feet striking pay dirt and thudding out a heavy heartbeat of Evermore in your head, the signs all around you begin to get bigger. They start counting down to something, like those giant billboards in the Carolinas telling you it’s only 150 more miles until the next must-do attraction. You can feel the urgency rising up inside of you now, though you’re not really sure why.
All you know is that you only have so many more miles to go before you need to accomplish everything you once set out to do.
At a certain point, maybe you stop moving forward. You double over there on the side of the well-beaten path—these dug-in ruts and rules of the road oft traveled. You steady yourself with your hands on your knees, head bowed low in a posture of prayer, while you try to remind yourself what it feels like to breathe. Maybe you even go ahead and sit down there on the sidelines for a while, rest in the shadow of an old oak tree. The soft sage grass brushing against the backs of your legs beckons you, whispers to you on a gentle breeze, quietly inviting you to stay there for a little while longer.
And for one brief minute of reprieve, you forget what all this running was for.
But while you are stopped there beside lush streams in green pastures, you can’t help noticing that no one else has dropped out of the race like you thought they would. No one has joined you in this new, noble pursuit of rest. In fact, they haven’t even once broken their stride. Now you’ve not only been lapped by the hare . . . but that holier-than-thou tortoise too. It turns out, slow and steady doesn’t change a thing if all you still care about is winning.
“It turns out, slow and steady doesn’t change a thing if all you still care about is winning.”
In a world full of gold stars and these gold-medal runners constantly outpacing you, all with Olympic-sized ambitions, you realize that part of your struggle with rest all along has been not wanting to be left behind. If we could all somehow just agree to bow out of this rat race together in solidarity, all sit down at the very same time on the count of three, it feels like it would be easier. Instead, these runners blow by you in a dead heat, pushing past one another to be first, ever addicted to the endorphins, always chasing the next high, their finger forever on the pulse of what it takes to win.
And as they go by, you could swear you could see from somewhere out of the corner of their side eye—this rapid “me, myself, and I” movement—that to them you are what it now looks like to quit.
This is your crossroads moment.
And now you have to decide.
Are you going to be a person who cares more about winning imaginary races… or growing strong roots?
One of my favorite scriptures is from the book of Jeremiah: “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jer. 17:8 NIV).
I love this verse.
But I have to be honest here. When I first think about becoming a tree, all I can think about is being stuck.
The mud draws up all around my ankles, fast like quicksand. A tangle of hands and roots then bursts forth from the ground, clawing at my Achilles’ heels, intertwining with the sinew of every muscle until my legs feel heavy, like they are no longer my own. Before I know it, I’m twelve inches deep in this shallow grave. It is a monument to a
life that up until now I have lived entirely for myself, and it is at last coming to an end. But rather than resting there in the peace of what’s coming, there is one last resurrected rush of self-sufficiency. A gnawing and thrashing of the will. Just when you begin to get rooted, you try to break loose to run free once again.
This at first appears to be the tension of life: we are either running for our worth, breathless and exhausted, forever coming in last place in a race we never signed up for. Or we sit down one day and decide to stay stuck.
But then I remember the vine and the branches. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:5 (NIV).
And all I can see then is pure POWER rising up. This hope springs eternal growing out of dry earth. And at last, I realize.
This vine holding me is no shackle.
This vine is what true freedom feels like.
Rooted or running? We get to decide.
You know her. Maybe you are her. The Woman Who Is Always Performing.
She walks into every room relentlessly hard on herself, always attempting to deliver an A+ performance, because she believes this is the bare minimum standard she has to achieve just to be invited to most tables. You would never know by looking at her the hard things she’s had to overcome. She succeeds, almost compulsively, in this urgent attempt to outrun her own muddy story. But she is walking around now, reduced to this burned-out, brittle, fragile, ashes-to-ashes version of herself. She is, at last… exhausted.
When gold stars, highlight reels, and seeking approval from strangers on the internet are not enough, Mary Marantz gives you permission to stop running. You are not in a race with anyone. Good things take time. REAL things take time. For a powerful guide to finding grace, freedom and purpose in an overachieving world, order your copy of Mary Marantz’s brand new devotional filled with her signature lyrical prose and stunning photography, Slow Growth Equals Strong Roots.
[ Our humble thanks to Revell for their partnership in today’s devotion ]