Do, or do not. There is no try.
-Master Yoda, in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
But how do you ‘do,’ without trying in the first place?
To me, in this context, ‘trying’ means to give excuses from the beginning for why you might fail. Perhaps you’re hedging your bets – giving yourself some ‘backups’ in employment or relationships. Maybe someone asked you for some help and you halfheartedly say, “I’ll try, but…,” giving an excuse for why you might not be able. Or perhaps it’s in the context that this blog post speaks about, expressing deference and shying away from confidently owning your material.
In other words, ‘trying’ means that if you failed, it’s ok because you didn’t put EVERYTHING you had into it. It saves you from the shame of your best not being good enough. You can always ‘try’ again later. By keeping your fingers in many pies, if one doesn’t end up tasting good, at least you’ll have a bit of another pie.
Doesn’t this sense of trying essentially come from a lack of confidence? From a sense that who you are is basically a checklist of attributes, qualities, and qualifications – like a résumé following you around everywhere, stating what you are and aren’t capable of? And let’s be honest, we’ve all had at least one time where we DID do our best, and we didn’t win, or get the job, or have that relationship, or… And it didn’t feel good, did it? To know that your best wasn’t good enough.
But what if who you are and what you can do are not confined to that résumé? What if judging our achievements in relation to other people’s is the wrong way to go? What if the core of your being is not something developed or limited by circumstances, but is actually the way God, divine Life, is expressed?
In the first chapter of Genesis, in the Holy Bible, we are assured that “God made man in His own image.” An image of something always depends on its source. The image could never have something it’s source didn’t have. I find this so reassuring because it gives me the confidence to discard anything that tells me I need to hold back. If our status, ability, health, gifts, are all founded in God, then there is no reason why we shouldn’t go all in. Sure, we may not win every game, get that specific job, or date that one person, but we can now be assured that who we are, the basic goodness and excellence of who we are, can never be tarnished (or brightened!) by failures or successes in human accomplishment. We’ve already been declared as God’s image and likeness, so all we need to do is live like we know it.
Now we can strive – now we can do – without the distraction of holding back. Go, do, and keep on doing! Christ Jesus put it this way, in the Sermon on the Mount: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The more familiar we get with fully committing – the more aware we are of our nature as the image of God, good – the more natural it will be to dive in without a backward glance. It’s not about you; it’s about God and His glory.
Don’t try to be God’s image. Recognize that you are, and live like you know it.