Everyone wants to feel fully loved and accepted. I am no different.
Growing up, I was desperate to earn people’s approval by performing well. I lived in constant fear of disappointing others and earning their disapproval. I was hard on myself; I kept trying and failing, and was continually running on the performance treadmill.
I grew up going to church, but saw God as someone I couldn’t afford to upset. To me, I needed to somehow earn God’s favor so I wouldn’t be rejected. I relied on myself to get approval both from people and God. It wasn’t working well. I was never good enough.
During high school, my life consisted of striving to earn approval and success. One night, after my performance in a girl’s dance group, the student body president talked to me and confronted me about how I was living. He brought to light the fact t that I could not earn both God’s and man’s acceptance by what I did. Prior to this, no one had challenged me with this truth. But how do I live otherwise?
This was the beginning of a change. He invited me to a small group Bible Study. I learned God is not like people; I cannot earn His acceptance by my own efforts. God knows who I am, my shortcomings and failures! He loves me unconditionally and accepts me because Jesus took the penalty for all my failure! God wants 100% of me, not all my efforts. I needed to surrender all to Him.
Change and growth continued over a long period of time. In college, a mentor helped me understand more about God; I acknowledged who He is and slowly grew to understand for the first time what it means to be loved and given grace. I found freedom in that grace, and left behind the dead-end street of seeking acceptance in performance. I took my struggles to God and He helped me.
There are people in my life who still don’t know how to really express love to me, but I no longer hold that against them. God’s love did a work in my own heart, and I can love people as they are.
Life isn’t always rosy; problems abound. But being filled with God’s love has given me freedom to be all God created me to be, and love others like He loves me. I’m off the treadmill of performance, no matter what comes my way.
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