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Striving for God’s Approval Can Hurt Your Faith

Striving for God’s Approval Can Hurt Your Faith

Are you trying your best to measure up—yet you still feel as if you’re not enough, and you’ll never be enough?

You are not alone.

The quest for perfection in our world is crazy-making—and endless.

Every day there is something new to chase after, some new look, weight, answer, thing or person. And we wonder all the while, Why am I so imperfect?

But we get on that treadmill—literally and figuratively—and go after perfection anyway, because there’s always a fresh trend to try; a new diet to implement; an innovative product to buy; or a trendy “it girl” to emulate.

There will always be something to strive for or someone to strive to be. And it feels like a whole lot of pressure doesn’t it?

As middle and high school students, we strive to be popular amongst our peers by being whoever it is we think they want us to be. In college, our ideas change a little bit but we struggle for perfection in other ways. We still want to be seen as beautiful and smart, but as young adults the pressure comes from other sources as we try to establish our places in the world.

As a young married person, we may attempt to keep up the façade of a perfect love story. We want our relationship to be admired. And then as young moms, we try so hard to keep up the impression that we are faultless mothers of flawless children. And so it goes. The phases of our lives change but the desire for perfection does not.

Mostly, we want others to think we have an ideal life, an existence that appears to be coming together nicely. It’s all about what others think of us, even though we know we’re far from perfect.

Another thing that doesn’t change? The pressure and the feeling of discontentment. The world tells us, “When you’ve got it all together and every aspect of your life is impeccable, then you’ll be happy.”

The enemy hums in our ears, “You won’t be free until you prove to everyone that you are important. You won’t be fulfilled until you have every scrap of your junk under control. You won’t be content and at peace unless you find a way for everyone to like you.” Proven, controlled and, most of all, liked.

And we listen to the enemy buzzing in our ears instead of the still, small Voice in our souls. We lunge for the brass ring, over and over, but we never quite catch it. It’s a never-ending feeling of being pushed and prodded, urged on to the next pursuit.

But our Father invites us into a different life, one in which our souls spill over with peace and gladness. Because running after our culture’s next idea of perfect is a burden we were never meant to bear. You and me? We were crafted to travel lightly, carrying burdens only the size of say, a medium-weight tote bag. Instead, we find ourselves crushed under the weight of a steamer trunk we were never supposed to pick up.

How do we begin to lighten our load? First things first: We need to be at peace with what we cannot change.

One of the healthiest habits I’ve ever incorporated into my life is holy self-talk. When I’m harried and feel undone by life, I am a huge fan of speaking truth out loud: “I am a daughter of the King! God, You love me and made me special! I know You have good for me regardless of how I feel right now! You are enough. Period.”

Challenge yourself to divest from whatever makes you strive and invest in authentic you. Dedicate time to prayer and seeking your Father’s face. Make it your goal to know and love Jesus, then watch what He does in and through you. Fill up with the truth of your identity in Him. Step off the treadmill and take a deep breath.

Here’s the truth: God can’t love us more based on our performance. It’s not in His nature. It’s not how He works.

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (1 John 4:10).

God is not in His heavenly tribunal, pronouncing us worthy because of our efforts.

He’s not saying, “That young lady is a real gem because she graduated at the top of her class or is making a fortune or was on the front page of a prestigious magazine or is a size 2.” He is saying “My girl is a gem—and I love her more than she will ever know.” But we just can’t wrap our minds around a love like that.

God is the Creator and definition of beauty. He does not need your money. He does not need your ability or achievements. All those things add nothing to Him or to you, His glorious workmanship.

Leave your striving at the curb. Park your fears of letting people down. Ditch the performing and the pretending.

Hand over your steamer trunk to the only One who can lug that thing around with ease. Better yet, just look up and say, “Take it.” No need to heft that load even one more time.

Tune out the buzzing and tune into the Voice that says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

You were built to depend on God, not yourself. You were made to travel lightly.

Adapted from the book You Are Beautiful: A Model Makeover from Insecure to Confident in Christ by Ashley Reitz with Lorilee Craker. Copyright (c) Ashley Reitz by Faithwords. Reprinted with permission of Hachette Book Group, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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