The Search for Approval: A Story of Freedom, part 3

The risky choice to defy the expectations that we place on ourselves or that we accept from others will undoubtedly raise questions in our minds and hearts. Decisions are not always clear cut. What about other people’s feelings, for instance? If I choose to go a certain way, is there the potential of hurting someone?

Well, yes. There will always be that potential in life. People react. People won’t understand. People have emotions that they don’t know how to manage.

But one of the questions we must ask ourselves is: Can we give up our need for control? We can neither control our own pain nor that of others. So if we’re always feeling like we have to step on eggshells in all of our decisions, is there something deeper going on?


Trust means to let go of our need to know. To know how someone will react, to know if we’ll fail or not. To know if our actions will cause pain.

This week God reminded me to evaluate my motivations. He reminded me to ask myself the questions: Who am I trying to please? And, whose approval am I striving to gain? Myself, others’, or His? I’ve tried for a long time to please myself—to do all the right things so I’ll be happy and won’t hurt others. When I fail a person, I ultimately fail myself. Why, then, have I never ended up happy while in the pursuit of my own approval?

Because I’ll never live up to my own expectations. They are too high. I put things on myself that God never put on me. I’ve carried burdens that were never meant for my shoulders.

I have also attempted (often without awareness) to please others. I might as well admit it—all my life I’ve tried to do this. But every time I hit that wall of not measuring up, it always leads to frustration. I can’t get past it. I will always displease someone in some way, because I am not perfect and neither are their expectations.

I’ve tried to please God, too. I want to do what He wants me to do, to follow where He leads, to be like Him in the way I live and interact with everyone. I mean, let’s face it, He has some pretty high standards. After all, didn’t He say to “be perfect as I am perfect?” Whoa—is that even possible?

Nope. Anyone who thinks so is only lying to themselves, and they will always be trapped.

So, now what? Well, there are some things that we need to remember and start believing so we can have freedom in this area. For God has not called us to walk on eggshells all through this life—but to be free. Abundantly free from fear and to walk in power and love and self-discipline.

First of all, the most important thing for us to know is that God is already pleased with us. Wow. Stop there for a second. In your mind, erase everything you’ve ever done wrong. Don’t think about it. He is pleased. He made you, and He did not make you to fail. He made you to be loved, because He knew that would make you free. He has never stopped being pleased with you and doesn’t plan to stop in the future. Do you believe this?

Secondly, He knows we can’t measure up. But see, He’s already remedied this. He came and fulfilled the law that we could never fulfill. He is our fulfillment. So we are free from blame, and He is pleased.

Third, we were never meant to live up to our own standards or the standards of others, only God’s. So if He is pleased, and we know we are loved, won’t every action and decision reflect this? We don’t have to make decisions based on shame or fear. Our decisions will stem out of love.

Now, that isn’t to say that people can’t still get hurt. But where does our devotion lie? If we know God’s love, we will hear His voice and obey what He says. We can’t control people. To every single person belongs the choice to take offense or not. There will be people who don’t trust God enough to accept change or uncertainty or being uncomfortable. But if we act out of love, and keep acting out of love, will not that love start naturally pouring forth from our lives? It’s called the fruit of the Spirit. And perhaps if we embrace freedom, others will start doing the same. So we can’t worry.

Let go. Trust. Release your need to know outcomes and to regulate the emotions of those you are in relationship with.

Be free to obey God.

His expectations will never limit or hinder you or keep you locked in your past.

He is pleased.

Affection that trumps my striving for perfection,

You take the law that I never measure up to and fulfill it

So that now I am blameless forever

You can’t put something on me that has no basis

Shame only exists as the enemy’s formless weapon

It has no substance

All feelings of unworthiness are a lie

All thoughts that I’m not good enough have no rock to stand upon

But I have a rock that is my base and I can’t be moved when I stand on its face

-Excerpt from my poem entitled “The Lie” photo-1425009294879-3f15dd0b4ed5

One thought on “The Search for Approval: A Story of Freedom, part 3

  1. becstorm

    This was wonderful. I constantly find myself falling into the trap of perfectionism and trying to please everyone, it always leads to failure and misery. But the more I focus on God and realize the true depth of his love and that I am enough, the more that I become truly free!

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