Why Are You Trying So Hard?

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I believe this is something we can all relate to. Doing things for the sake of others, even when they may not be looking. Approval of others is a big draw to us as humans. It can drive us to do things in such a way that it takes all the meaning out of it. It can take all the good out of accomplishing something because we are so focused on whether or not one person or a group of people noticed and are impressed by us. I’ll share a prime example from my own life. See if you can relate.
I went to college as an adult. I was in my mid twenties when I started attending the community college in my area. I strived for excellence in all my classes while in their Paralegal Program. To the point I drove myself to overwhelming stress. Earning the grade of “B” was unacceptable. I had to earn an “A” in every class. In fact the first time I did earn a “B” I broke down crying. Why? My father. Funny thing here is that he was not a part of my life at this point. In fact I hadn’t seen him in almost a decade. But I remember him saying when I was younger, “You couldn’t get an A?” Anything less than the best was not good enough. Even 10 years later those words were driving me, not to excellence, but high functioning anxiety. I was dying for the approval of a man who didn’t know anything I was doing. Looking back now I can see the insanity, but while in it I could only see my desire for my Fathers approval.
How about you, can you relate? Do you have someone in your life you seek the approval of to your own detriment? Maybe they are seeing what you’re doing, accomplishing, or maybe like in my case that aren’t. Either way it’s not healthy. When we do things to get the attention of others, it takes the meaning of what we are doing away. At the very least it diminishes it. And it takes away from the real reason we are allowed to go after such things in the first place, as a blessing from God. Using the gifts God gave us to further His kingdom for something like gaining approval of man is diminishing God. We weren’t given abilities to gain the attention of others for ourselves, but for Him.
I know how difficult it is to not want that approval. I’m now a 43 year old woman who still wonders at times if my Father knows all I’m doing, accomplishing. I still crave his approval so much. It’s a desire I have to hand over to God when I feel it rising up. What I don’t want is all God is helping me to do get tainted by unhealthy expectations. The only approval I need to be interested in is my Heavenly Fathers. When I finally get to Heaven I’ll hear, “Well done my daughter I’m proud of you.”
I also desire the approval of people other than my Father. Those that have left my life too leaving me with feelings of even more unworthiness. There are times I find myself wanting something to succeed so they can see they were wrong about me and I was worthy after all. Do you have people in your life like that? Are you straining your voice to be heard by people who are no longer listening? Striving for worthiness from those that don’t pay attention anyways. Hoping, just hoping, they will notice. It’s not an easy thing to stop doing, I struggle almost daily with having to remember why I do what I do. And it’s not for them, it’s for you. It’s for those that feel hopeless in different situations. Today it’s for the you who is killing yourself for the approval of that person or group of people. For the one whose accomplishments are being ruined by not receiving that very approval. I know what it is to not be able to enjoy something because your focus is in the wrong place. I know what it is to go in private and cry while people in the other room are proud of you, all but the one(s) you really wanted there. It’s not fair to you, your hard work, or God. It’s time to release yourself from this invisible jail. It’s time to break free and live free with God!
The only way I know to do this is through prayer and talking to someone about it. Finally being honest with yourself, God, and another. Talking through what is really your driving force in life, the approval of ————————, you fill in the blank. Ask God daily for His help to release you from this desire. Call out to God today asking Him to help you see the only approval you need is His. It’s amazing the freedom you start to feel immediately. And when the desire to impress that person returns, go easy on yourself. It happens to me all the time. I have to quickly check my motives on why I’m doing something. I repent to God for it and ask for His help again. You and I may never get this perfect. Luckily for us God doesn’t ask for perfection. Just a heart open to loving Him and living our life for Him the best we can. The rest we leave to Him and the cross.

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