How to Live a Fruitless and Frustrated Life

God knew you.

Before He ever formed you, before the world had ever laid eyes on you, before you ever said a single prayer asking Him what you should do with your life – He knew you.

He knew you and He formed you.

He knit you together with joy and with wisdom, with love and with accuracy. No mistakes. Just as He meant you to be. And He was well-pleased to introduce you to the world. You with His plans and purposes and beauty tucked right there into your tiny, squirming newborn frame.

And you started to grow.

Longer. Stronger.

Learning to take steps and form words and dream dreams.

And you didn’t apologize – for who you were or for what you wanted to be.

You were just you.

And I was just me.

And I don’t know when it happened. When that shift took place. When we reached that age where we started measuring ourselves according to everyone else. That point when we started questioning who God made us to be – wishing we could be more like him or like her. That moment we started apologizing for who He made us to be, as if who we are isn’t quite enough.

And I saw it spelled out for me in the Word this week. I saw the key to living a fruitless and frustrated life. And people can raise eyebrows and look at me like I’m crazy, because who in their right mind would sign up for that kind of life? But sometimes, we need to recognize the way we don’t want to go so we can turn around and travel the path we want to. Sometimes, we need someone to wake us up before it’s too late and we end up with a life that doesn’t truly satisfy.

Because I think most of us really do want to be fruitful. We want lives that have meaning. Lives that are significant. Lives overflowing with joy and with purpose. And we don’t have be embarrassed or ashamed for wanting those things. God wants all of those things for us. He wants us to be fruitful. He even goes so far as to say He wants us to bear MUCH fruit with our lives.  LASTING fruit. Why? Because when we do what He created us to do, when we bear much fruit, it brings Him glory. (John 15:1-16)

And therein lies the catch.

Or rather the key.

The key to being fruitful and joyful?

It’s found in us simply doing what He created us to do. 

Not me trying to do what you were created to do. Not you trying to do what she was created to do.

Just us. Back to the basics.

Back to a place where you are just you and I am just me. 

A place where we don’t have to envy each other or compete with one another because we know. We know that who He made us to be is good.

The key to being frustrated and fruitless? 

Compare yourself and end up climbing ladders you were never meant to climb. 

Because comparisons open the door to envy which leads us headlong into lives He never intended for us to live.

We see the success of others, the beauty of others, and suddenly we think we need to be who they are and start doing what they are doing. And we can end up climbing ladders we were never meant to climb to achieve lives we were never designed to live. And God’s Word tells us that kind of climbing is meaningless. Pointless.

“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 (NLT)

Trying to become like someone else because we envy them? Because we long for their fruit, despising our own? All it can ever bring to our lives is confusion and disorder. All it can ever do is steal our peace and lead us to a place of rebelling against God and His plans for us.

“For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.” James 3:16 (AMP)

And we can miss out on bearing our own fruit because we are trying so hard to grow someone else’s fruit. Pear trees staring longingly at cherry trees, wondering just how they can grow that delicate, red fruit instead of such clunky, odd shaped offerings. And what is ridiculous and impossible in the natural is also spiritually frustrating and fruitless for us.

How easily we can forget:

We were made to be fruit-bearers, not fruit-comparers. 

And I get it. I get the frustration. Some people? They get more attention for their fruit. They get more applause. They get more pats on the back for all that they do and for who they are. And so it can appear like their fruit matters more. Like your fruit must not be much of an offering after all. But that’s when we have to remember this:

appleFruit is meant to be eaten, not to be applauded. 

No one picks fruit to stare at it. To admire it. To applaud it for being so lovely, only to walk away and let it rot.

Fruit is for eating. Fruit is for the hungry, for the malnourished, for everyone.

And when we remember that is the point of our fruit – to serve, to feed, to nourish – suddenly, it doesn’t matter if the world notices. Feeding even just one person with our lives becomes important and worthwhile because we know we were made to bless, not to impress. We were made to bring Him – the Designer, the Creator, the One we can do nothing apart from – glory wherever He sees fit. Feeding many, feeding any, with all that He has created us to do.

I love this prayer from Ann Voskamp. I can’t remember exactly where I found it. It is simply a prayer for her daughters, and it is one I have latched onto for myself and for each of my girls.

“May she be bread and feed many with her life and laughter,
May she be thread and mend brokenness and knit hearts,
May she be dead to all ladders and never go higher,
only lower, to the lonely, the least and the longing,
Her led of the Spirit to lead many to the cross that leads
to the tomb wildly empty.” ~ Ann Voskamp

That’s what I want to be. Who I want to be. Bread. Thread. Dead to all ladders and Spirit-led.

A life that is truly fruitful.

A life that ultimately leads others to taste and see that He is good. 

And not that my life has been utterly fruitless and pointless thus far. Not at all. But I know I have missed out on bearing fruit because I have envied the fruit of others. I know I have brought frustration and confusion and disorder to my life because I have tried to climb ladders that aren’t mine to climb. And I know I have mistakenly thought the point of my fruit was for it to be on display for my glory.

And so I end this post with repentance. And if your life has felt fruitless and frustrating lately, maybe join me in this today? Because we have the choice. The choice to stop. To turn around. To start living the life we really want to live.

Heavenly Father, we come before you today with humble hearts asking for Your forgiveness. We have doubted You. We have looked around at the world and then declared with our thoughts and our attitudes and our actions that how You made us just isn’t good enough. That You have held out on us. That You have loved others more than You have loved us. That You have assigned them the better fruit. Oh, Lord, forgive us. You are loving and perfect and good in all of Your ways. Who You made us to be is good. Very, very good. And we say before You today we want to be fruit-bearers, not fruit-comparers. Today, we come into agreement with You about who You say we are – beautiful, beloved, chosen, purposed, created fearfully and wonderfully. We want to bear our fruit. Our own fruit. And we want to bear it with joy, bringing You glory. We trust You. We love You. We praise You. Amen. 

Today, you can just be you and I can just be me. We can bear our own fruit and enjoy one another’s fruit and trust that it really is all good.

I love you, friends. May we get these truths tucked deep down into our hearts, into a place where they can bloom true joy and produce pure peace.

Much love,