I’m presented with countless buy-in opportunities every day. At every turn, I’m invited to invest the whole of my life in eliminating chemicals and preservatives and gluten from my life, chasing goals without apologizing, and sparking joy with sparse closets and perfectly-folded t-shirts. I’ve looked to many of them and pleaded, fix my life. I’ve turned to Powersheets and PiYo and really nice skincare regimens for Holy-Spirit transformation, spending my money for that which is not bread and my labor for that which does not satisfy. Each time, left wanting.

I’ve found that I can organize my closets and minimize my screen time  and swap all of my beauty and household products for chemical-free alternatives and find myself still deeply discontent and disappointed. You can schedule out your ideal week and prep a bunch of Pinterest-perfect Whole 30 meals and check off all of your goal boxes and never escape the cavernous ache for abundant life.

I have to remind myself often —Minimalism is not a substitute for Gospel transformation. Social media boundaries are not a substitute for Gospel transformation. Time management is not a substitute for Gospel transformation. Self-improvement is not a substitute for gospel transformation. Clean eating and goal-planning and habit-tracking are not substitutes for Gospel transformation.

I don’t believe these things are inherently bad –I actually think some of them are really good, when rightly ordered. In their proper place, these tools have the potential to make us better creation-stewards, healthier disciple-makers, and kinder neighbor-friends. They’re good things, or they can be, but they don’t make dead things come alive. I often catch myself believing that my best self and best life are on the other side of them. On the other side of Whole30, of perfecting my house or creating a capsule wardrobe, of becoming the kind of person who goes to the gym every day. I’m looking to habits and programs and new products to do what only the Gospel can.

It’s Christ in me, not a social media fast, that can make me more present. Christ in me, not the latest fad cleanse or workout system, that can make me more disciplined. Christ in me, not a well-ordered life, that fills me with peace. Christ in me, not a different set of circumstances, that breeds contentment in any and every situation. God who brings us from death to life is the one who equips us for every good work, who is conforming us into the image of Jesus, who will carry to completion the work He began –to the praise of His Glory. In a world full of products shouting this will make you better, the Savior says I am making you new.