Why You Can Stop Trying So Hard to Please God

It’s like a buzzing, this low grade anxiety that keeps my muscles tight and my brain spinning. My jaw tenses and sets slightly to the right, teeth clenched as the message that’s played through my brain for most of my life plays once again.

You’re just not doing enough. You can do better.

So I try. I take on more responsibilities, keep my emotions in check, overthink about what the right thing actually is in this situation. I spin and spin and spin my wheels, hoping that all this effort results in the one thing I’m looking for.


I didn’t know that’s what I wanted. Not until a few days ago. When the word leaped off the page as the author spoke about seeking approval from God. I can’t remember what I was reading or who wrote it, only that it shook me up and left my heart squinting, as if someone had pulled the chain on a light bulb that shone truth into a dark space.

Getting the approval of people matters to me to some extent. I want people to like me and appreciate my gifts, talents, skills and personality.

But I want God’s approval even more.

Which is a funny statement because I already have it. God has already given me his approval. And really, that word “approve” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what God thinks about me.

Approve means to agree or accept as satisfactory.

Looking at that definition it feels unsatisfactory. That’s really all I’m wanting from God? A stamp of approval that declares me satisfactory?

No. I want more than that.

In fact, I already have more than that.

God doesn’t just approve of me.

He is pleased.

He loves me.

He treasures me.

He delights in me.

His pleasure in me is found not in what I do, but in who I am. I am his child, his beautiful creation, his workmanship and masterpiece. I am far more than my capabilities and skills and whatever I can accomplish in this life.

God loves me.

He–the Creator of the universe, Lord of the heavens, King of all Kings–he loves me. That love is true and deep and real, but so often I can’t receive it. I can’t rest in it because I’ve convinced myself I have to earn it.

Grace tells me differently.

Grace says that no matter what I do or don’t do, I am loved.

Grace tells me that my value lies in my identity as a child of God, not in a list of rules I keep or a list of disciplines I practice or tasks I mark off my list each day.

I matter. I am valued. I am far more than satisfactory. I am loved.

And so are you.

Dear heart, I know that struggle of resting in the hands of a loving and gracious Father when the rest of the world tells you that you have to earn approval. That you have to be good enough. But hear when me I say that you are enough simply because you are you.

Beautifully and wonderfully made by your Father who loves you just as you are.

Stop trying so hard. Say no. Quit a few things that have become burdens. Create some space. Let yourself fall once again into the overwhelming never-ending reckless love of God. He loves you. There is nothing you can do to change that.

And in case you are still doubting, here this word from Micah:

“With what shall I come before the Lord,
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

~Micah 6:6-8 (emphasis mine)

Just walk humbly, dear heart. Walk humbly with your Father and receive his grace and love. That is all that is required of you.

Related: “I Want you to be Free…”

Live in his love!

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