I am an avid rule follower.
It makes me physically sick to not follow rules, even ones which don’t matter very much.
For example, our rental agreement says we are not to let weeds get over 6 inches high (no joke). Well, this spring, during a busy time of year, we had lots of weeds well over 6 inches and my stomach turned to knots every time I saw them.
It may sound a little crazy to let something so small bother me so much, and it is; after all we have a good landlord and he would never evict us over tall weeds. I even knew it shouldn’t bother me. I knew the worst that would happen was our landlord would send a text and ask us to take care of the weeds, but it still stressed me out.
This feeling of needing to follow all the rules leaves me in a constant state of stress. Especially because there are so many rules coming from all different sources, some of them explicitly stated, but many just implied (how is it fair to be expected to follow unspoken rules?).
Can you relate?
Maybe for you it isn’t rules so much as expectations. Whether real or imaginary, placed on you by others or yourself, expectations can create the same type of pressure. (Yep, I struggle with this too).
Living in a constant state of stress and feeling under constant pressure is far from desirable. Yet, I had come to accept it was just part of life and I had to deal with it…until I read something that challenged me.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
Those questions stopped me right in my tracks (well in my reading). I thought of my very long to-do list. I thought of all the rules causing me stress. I thought of all the pressure from unrealistic expectations I had placed on myself. I examined each one and determined which things I was doing to please God, and which to please people.
It turns out I spent a lot of time trying to please people. I was trying to follow the rules of the world instead of the law of Christ. Trying to live up to the expectations of the world instead of resting in who God has made me and called me to be.
My deepest desire, my life’s purpose, is to please God and be a servant of Christ. Yet, according to God’s word I can’t be a servant of Christ if I am concerned with pleasing people.
No wonder I felt weighed down by rules and expectations! I was trying to please the wrong people and it was working against me and against God.
Clearly, I needed to shift my focus to become most concerned with pleasing God.
Since making this shift, I have discovered the joy of putting God at the center of everything I do.
You see, God promises if you make him number 1, he will take care of you.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
And while God does have his own rules and expectations for us, the stress and pressure attached to them disappears because we can be 100% confident in God’s love and care for us even when we make a mistake or don’t measure up.
So let me ask you, who are you trying to please today?