How to Live Gracefully
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2013 2 Feb
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Emily P. Freeman's new book, Graceful: Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life (Revell Books, 2012).
Society places tremendous pressure on women to try to be perfect, or at least appear to be. So the human weaknesses and failures you experience can cause fear to creep into your life, driving you to work as hard as you can to hide your imperfections from others.
Spending your energy trying to seem perfect and hide who you really are from others is exhausting. Thankfully, Jesus offers you a much better way to live – a lifestyle of grace that leads to peace.
Here’s how you can stop hiding behind your own efforts to be good and instead enjoy a graceful life:
Stop hiding behind your performance. If you fear that you’re inadequate, you’ll hear the voice of an actress telling you that you have to perform to be loved. But God says that you don’t need to earn His love; you can simply receive it as a gift. From God’s perspective, what’s most important isn’t what you do, but who you are – and your true identity is as God’s beloved child doesn’t depend on anything you do. You don’t have to work hard to try to be perfect; you simply need to trust in Jesus, because He is enough for you in every situation. Make a habit of relying on God’s unlimited power daily.
Stop hiding behind your reputation. If you’re afraid of what other people think of you, you’ll hear the voice of a girl next door telling you that you have to impress others to be loved. But God says that He is the keeper of your reputation, so you can be free from the pressure of trying to please other people. Recognize that your goodness comes from God alone, and rely on God to defend you in times of trouble.
Stop hiding behind your causes. If you fear failing to make a difference in the world with your life, you’ll hear the voice of an activist telling you that you have to make a significant impact on the world to be loved. But God says that you should show the world the Savior rather than trying to save the world yourself. Your competence and importance comes from God, not from what you can do for God. When you focus simply on trusting God, He will empower you to do more than just pick up a cause out of a sense of duty; He will help you learn how to joyfully lay down your life – to come to Him just as you are each day and be willing to say do whatever He calls you to do. In the process, you’ll truly change the world for the better, because you’ll be in the center of God’s will for you.
Stop hiding behind your strength and responsibility. If you’re afraid of weakness, you’ll hear the voice of a heroine telling you that you have to be strong and responsible to be loved. But God says that you don’t have to be strong because you can rely on His unlimited strength in any situation, and you don’t have to have everything figured out because God does, and He will guide you. Don’t be afraid to admit your weaknesses; God sees your weaknesses, He loves you despite them, and His strength can help you overcome them. Release yourself from the pressure of trying to be a heroine by trusting God to be your Hero.
Stop hiding behind your comfort zone. If you fear exposure, you’ll hear the voice of a bystander telling you that you don’t really matter, so you’re not worthy of love and you can’t take risks with confidence. But God says that you should step out of the sidelines and fully into life because He loves you completely and unconditionally, and His great love can give you all the confidence you need to do whatever He calls you to do. Rest assured that God sees and appreciates you. Decide to put your faith fully into action, trusting that God will help you every step of the way.
Stop hiding behind your rules. If you’re afraid of failure, you’ll hear the voice of a judge telling you that you have to be perfect to be loved. But God says that your failures can show your need for a Savior – Jesus – who only asks you to have faith in Him and His power to make things right in your life. Remember that, if you have a saving relationship with Jesus, you’re not under law but under grace. Your righteousness comes not from your own efforts, but from what Jesus has done to pay for your sins and connect you to God.
Stop hiding behind your intellect. If you fear criticism, you’ll hear the voice of an intellectual telling you that you have to be the best to be loved. But God says that you can find great freedom in not striving in vain to know everything, but instead to focus on knowing more about Jesus every day through a loving relationship with Him. You don’t have to figure everything out, because God holds all things together. When you humble yourself before God and place your trust fully in Jesus, you can gain true wisdom.
Stop hiding behind your dreams. If you’re afraid of missing out in life, you’ll hear the voice of a dreamer telling you that your life won’t start until later. But God says that you don’t have to wait to pursuing your dreams; you can start living them right now when you surrender your dreams to God and ask Him to show you His dreams for you. Once you’ve discerned God’s purposes for your life and which dreams reflect those purposes, rely on God’s unlimited power to help you make those dreams come true.
Emily P. Freeman is the author of Grace for the Good Girl. Every Sunday night, she leads a small group of high school girls at her house, where they talk about real life, real love, and the God who makes a difference. Emily’s husband, John, is a youth pastor and their live together in North Carolina with their twin daughters, their son, and their crazy dog, Finn. Connect with Emily online at www.ChattingAtTheSky.com.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles. Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.
Publication date: February 5, 2013