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Driven to Impress

Have you ever felt burdened with the continual expectations of perfection you need to meet up to day after day? Are you tired of feeling like you need to hide behind the fake facade you display for others to see?

It's a never-ending battle to feel accepted in this world we're in. We live in a society that tries to include everyone, but by doing so it is impossible to effectively please everyone, resulting in people feeling upset and overlooked.

As a graphic designer, I've found it challenging, and very belittling at times, with the constant influx of opinions and ideas thrown at me day after day. I put my heart and effort into a project to make sure it's the best I can do. I spend time trying to focus on what each client is desiring, and create something I think they will like. It's a struggle to not become discouraged when things don't meet up to the expectations of others. When others voice their negative feedback of my work it feels personal. It seems as though my work wasn't good enough, making me not good enough. I've carried this aspect into various areas in my life.

I don't know about you, but I find myself constantly basing my worth by my performance. I allow how others perceive me to become truth in my mind. I conjure up thoughts in my head of what I think others may be perceiving me as, and at times, I probably let them grow way out of proportion. This leaves me feeling insecure and leading me to become discouraged, all because of what I imagine others are saying or thinking.

People pleasing is extremely tiring. Once we begin to feel accepted, it seems like we're always awaiting a drastic rejection to occur. If you've ever ridden a roller coaster, consider it smooth sailing in comparison to the act of pleasing others. When you take a ride to please others, you're in for some mountainous road ahead.

I have recently come to realize that no matter how many people may be watching or expecting me to rise up to their expectations, I only truly have an audience of One. I can find rest knowing that when I'm fulfilling the task at hand I only need to be focused on doing it for God, and nobody else. It relieves me from the pressure and opinions thrown at me from every side that expects me to perform with perfection. I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. God sees our heart and our sincere intent. Others may mistake our actions, but God sees our true intentions. Knowing this truly puts things into perspective and allows me to remember the drive for my effort. It gives me peace knowing that I don't need to be perfect or flawless to be used by God.

It is a constant battle to fulfill the need to please others and consistently meet up to the endless levels of perfection we see around us. In today's society, ideas of who we are and where we should be in life bombard us from all sides. Expectations choke us in discouragement when we cannot fulfill the accomplishments of who we think we should be. I've let so many of these thoughts grow at insurmountable rates into debilitating truths that feel so defining of my worth.

Thoughts like: 

  1. You have to be perfect all the time. Mistakes define you. Admitting your faults shows weakness. 
  2. You can't admit you are feeling upset or struggling. You can't be real. 
  3. You have to be at the top to be successful. 
  4. You have to be making good money to be happy. 
  5. You have to be married early in life, if not, something's wrong with you. 
  6. Rejection displays that you are not worthy of love. 
  7. You need to blend in with society, different is bad. 
  8. The amount of friends you have determines your value. 
  9. You need to be good at everything and if you're not the best, you need to be. 
Now, let me take a moment and switch those worldly perceptions into truths God has given us.

God's truths: 

  1. You have to be perfect all the time. Mistakes define you. Admitting your faults shows weakness. I sent my Son to die for you, so through Him you don't need to be perfect. I choose those who are imperfect and weak in the eyes of the world for greatness. 
  2. You can't admit you are feeling upset or struggling. I understand what it feels like to struggle and face the pain you're in, I created it, so I know. You can be honest with Me, I already know what's on your heart. 
  3. You have to be at the top to be successful. I desire to use those who are willing and humble. I choose the lowly and outcasts to do amazing things. 
  4. You have to be making good money to be happy. True joy is only found in me. Money and fame will not bring long-lasting contentment. 
  5. You have to be married early in life, if not, something's wrong with you. I have an amazing plan for you. I will provide exactly what you need in My perfect timing. 
  6. Rejection displays that you are not worthy of love. Others will reject you, but I will never leave or forsake you. My love for you will always remain the same. Nobody loves you more than Me. 
  7. You need to blend in with society, different is bad. This world will not accept you, it's okay. Because you live for Me, others will reject you. Choose to shine in this dark world, because you were created to make a difference. 
  8. The amount of friends you have determines your value. People or possessions don't determine your worth. I created you in My image and you are valued in My sight. I'm on your side. 
  9. You need to be good at everything, and if you're not the best, you need to be. Others look at your performance and focus only at what they can see, but I look at your effort and your heart's intent. 

When others criticize something I've done or reject me for who I am I allow it to dig deep into my heart and grow into seeds of humiliation and discouragement. I empower those thoughts to define who I am, while I'm losing sight of God's perspective of me. Others perceive me through only what they can see, while God looks past the appearance and delves deep below the surface. He sees the real you and doesn't focus on all that you've messed up, but sees you as valuable and loved. You don't have to perform or meet up to His expectations to make Him proud.

I've always found great consolation in Moses's transparency with God. I've never been good at expressing my thoughts through spoken words, so this passage with Moses has always comforted me in times of speaking.

Exodus 4:10 

But Moses pleaded with the LORD, "O Lord, I'm not very good with words. I never have been, and I'm not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled."  Then the LORD asked Moses, "Who makes a person's mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say."

God chose to use Moses because he was willing and humble. God chose Moses, not because he would accomplish the task with flying colors, but because God could show His power through someone who was imperfect. God doesn't place expectations of perfection upon us. He will supply what we need, but we just need to have trust and a willing heart.

God doesn't love or accept us for who we are or what we will become, but loves us despite our mistakes and imperfections. We no longer have to feel defined when someone criticizes us. We don't have to feel unworthy when we can't fulfill the expectations others burden us with. We can be reminded that no opinion should ever take the place of God's view of us. He wants to protect us from the weighty load of carrying everyone's opinions and judgments and refocus only on what He sees. We can rest in God's truths in how He sees us, because they are unchanging and flawless. People's perceptions and opinions are based solely on whims, one-sided thoughts and faulty ideas, while God's perceptions of us are based on truth, remaining the same amidst the test of time.

Proverbs 29:25

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.


New Devotional Study!

I'm excited to announce the release of my latest devotional study entitled "Enough."

In a world that constantly drives us to find our satisfaction in anything but God, it can leave us feeling empty and our attitude fluctuating with our circumstances. In this devotional study I share ways in which you can look at your life full of stress, worries and unmet desires and find a steadfast joy knowing that God is truly enough.

Check out this study, along with additional products online...

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Growing Weary in the Wait

Some days hit us hard and leave us with a lack of motivation to continue on. We try to be positive when frustrations come our way. We try to find a fresh focus, knowing God is working even through things that just don't make an ounce of sense. We try to find hope, even when the future is dark. Some days just drench us in negativity and weaken our worn out hearts.

In the consistency of the mundane struggles it is a constant battle to find strength and motivation to continue on. It takes effort and endurance to keep a mindset that is focused on God and not focus on all that seems wrong in our lives.

My life has been far from perfect recently, but even amidst the raging chaos of my mess, I felt God was supplying me with strength and helping me try to keep a positive perspective. It came to a plundering nosedive when emotions came rushing back in of discouragement, frustration and impatience for God to fulfill the longing desires I've been seeking to give Him.

Sometimes it feels as though it takes so much effort to stay focused and keep trusting. Days come that just trip me up and pull me right back to feeling discouraged and run-down from constantly trying. To be honest, I've grown tired. Tired of living for God in a world that takes Him out of everything. Tired of doing the right thing against the opposing current of the world. Tired of trying to encourage when I feel overlooked. Tired of getting "no" answers to my prayers. Tired of feeling like God is silent. Tired of feeling like my life is meaningless. Tired of feeling invisible. Tired of waiting for great things to happen. Tired of enduring through trial after trial, with no end in sight.

I've been earnestly trusting God to provide, but there are times that I grow so impatient. I am worn out of the waiting. The constant wondering if He will ever finally provide for my desires. It causes a deep ache in my heart to see others so easily getting their desires met, while mine feel like they've been cast to the side and never treated with the same importance.

Maybe you've grown weary in the waiting and feel like you're surrounded by the deafening silence. Maybe you've grown tired in pressing on and continuing to fight day after day with no end in sight. Maybe you are tired of hoping for God to work, and it seems like every day is filled with the same mundane tasks. Maybe you are lost and seeking for direction on what God wants from you.

As a person who likes a planned out future, uncertainty irks me to death. During these times I find it helpful to remember these truths:

  • God supplies all of our needs, probably thousands more than we may ever be aware of.
  • God's timing is flawless and shouldn't be questioned or tampered with.
  • God is working in the silence, that's usually when He works in us the most.
  • God has purpose for where you are right now. You're there for a special reason.
  • God uses even the most mundane of tasks to strengthen our character.
  • God is attentive to our prayers, not one of them is forgotten or missed.
  • It is impossible for God to ever fail us.
  • Trials aren't punishment, but opportunities that God wants us to draw closer to Him.
  • If God is saying "no" or "wait," He isn't withholding something beneficial from you, but rather protecting you from something that could possibly be hurtful or harmful.
  • God's future for us is perfectly planned out, nothing is out of place.
  • Satan uses any opportunity to get us discouraged, but God desires to give us hope.

Psalm 34:17-18: The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

We may not understand the reason for our current circumstances and the incessant wait we are enduring through, but we do have God's promises and truths to provide us with peace amidst the uncertainty. Knowing that God's got it all under control and is working things out, allows me to find rest and relieves me of the insurmountable pressure to take control. Whatever struggle you may be feeling engulfed in, remember that God is near. He's got this all under control, and when you've done all you can do, you simply just need to seek after Him and trust that He will lead you when His timing is right.

Dear Lord, I may not understand the purpose for the circumstances you have placed me in, but I trust that You've got it under control. Give me the strength to let go and hand over my desires to You so You can direct me and lead me right where I need to be, in Your perfect timing. Remind me that even when the waiting gets long, You are using this time for something of great purpose. Give me wisdom to use my life right now for Your glory. Help me to find contentment in my present situations and remember that You are working even in the silence. You remain by my side even no matter how dark the road gets. Keep me focused on You and not lose sight of the end goal. Reveal to me what you desire to teach me during this waiting period and strengthen my relationship with You. Help me to overcome the wait and come through it strengthened and refined.


Why Hope?

When we're in the midst of life's darkest storms the hardest thing to find is hope. How can we hope for anything good to come from something so dismaying? Why should we find good in this situation? How can we have faith knowing God is going to ever answer our requests when it feels like He's continually disregarding our desires? Will He ever bless us with joy instead of the constant struggles that never seem to cease?

We may be in a place of utter despair. We may feel like our world has been shattered. Even though we may feel trapped in the current discouragement of our present circumstances, we can find hope.

Hope doesn't involve security. It doesn't require you knowing the certainty of your future. It doesn't involve a planned out future with perfect happy days. True hope is when we have an unknown future, with a secure faith in God, even before our circumstances change. We can rest in God because we have His promises to root our faith in. God has promised us that He will provide exactly what we need, in His perfect timing. He has promised us that He will direct us when we place our trust in Him. We don't have to worry when terrible things happen or our future is unclear. We can have hope knowing that He is directing, protecting and providing just what we need, in the timing we need it. He's taking care of things and has it all planned out, we don't need to worry.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hope doesn't just involve a happy longing for the future, it runs much deeper than that. Hope is a tight-knit bond with faith and belief. We need to believe in the object we are placing our hope in. Why would we get our hopes up if we were afraid we would only be let down?

I have found that my heart gets so much more broken when I allow my mind to run ahead of me and I get my hopes up for what "could be." I struggle often in letting my mind run ahead of me with the desires I have, only to be discouraged when they don't turn out the way I had imagined them in my mind. It's because I was placing my hope in my dreams, my desires or in something that continually will change. I wasn't placing my hope in something secure. Something that never changes. Someone who will never let me down. Someone that's got it all in His hands. I allow my hope to be controlled by the earthly satisfactions and pleasures that will one day fade away.

Romans 8:18
I will wait for the Lord, my whole being waits and in His word I put my hope.

We can have hope for the future because there are circumstances and events that are worth looking forward to, but we shouldn't let them consume us. We shouldn't allow them to define our happiness and be our only drive to live out each day. I have allowed so many earthly desires to be my motivation for living. I have given in to the deception of thinking possessions, people, a relationship status, etc. would bring me lasting satisfaction. I've fallen for the lies that "If I just had that, then I would be happy."

Hope is not defined in earthly possessions, it is achieved through a steadfast trust in God, knowing He is working for our best even when our life feels at it's worst. We not only can have hope in the life God is working through here on this earth, but we can find an eternal hope in our future home in heaven.

Maybe you are uncertain of your eternal future. Maybe you believe in heaven, but you're not actually convinced you are going there if you die today. In God's Word it states in Romans 10:9 that: "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Although it's a simple act, it requires a heartfelt belief and a sincere confession. Believing in God isn't just words said, granting you an access ticket into heaven, it involves a personal and long-lasting relationship with Him. As Christians we weren't promised an easy life, we were promised that it would be worth the struggle we face here when we arrive into our heavenly home. Not everyone has that hope for a future in heaven. Although we all will have eternal life, not everyone will be blessed with living in heaven with God one day. It requires belief and a need for a Savior. If you confess that you need a Savior to forgive your sins, truly believe that He came to save you and you desire to have a relationship with Him, you can find hope knowing that eternal glory is awaiting you when you leave this earth. I admit that some days that is all that I am able to find my hope in.

The hopes of this world just don't seem to satisfy the emptiness that follows being let down with the ever-changing pleasures I desire. When I place my hope in the temporary desires of this world, I am left craving for something secure. Something that won't fade with time. Something that won't let me down. That can only be found in Christ. He's the one thing that will never change. His love will always remain the same for me no matter how bad I mess up or how old I get. He promises to always provide exactly what I need. He will never abandon or forsake me. He understands the deep aches that I tuck deep inside. He accepts me and values my worth. You can have hope knowing that if you've accepted Christ as your Savior you will be awaited by a loving Father, accepting you in and desiring to spend time with you for eternity. How amazing will that be? Knowing the God of the universe loves us and we will have the opportunity to live in paradise with Him forever. No more pain. No more insecurity. No more rejection. No more discouragement. No more stress.

Romans 8:32
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

So as our heavenly Father awaits our arrival, we can have a hope knowing that our current struggles are achieving us eternal glory that will be revealed in time. God is using this time, whether a dark storm or foggy future, to strengthen our character and draw us closer to Him. No pain is worthless. No struggle is unseen. Every circumstance we encounter is being used for eternal purpose. Find your hope in knowing that God has everything in place. Nothing is out of order or forgotten. God is never surprised. He's known your future since time began. He's using this for something amazing. Rest in His promises. Remember His character. Find hope in knowing He's got it and is using it for something far beyond anything of this world.


Feeling Distracted by Discouragement

I look at my current circumstances and seek to find purpose. How can the pain be used for something worthwhile? How can my lack of success help me achieve what God has in store for me?

I struggle to keep my perspective focused on Christ, and that is where my attitude gets impacted. I allow my circumstances, treatment and opinions of others begin to define who I am. I give Satan the opportunity to nestle in and make his home in my heart. Once I fall for his schemes, I'm letting him keep getting more comfy inside my soul. 

This world so easily entangles our focus and thoughts in anything but what is eternal. Some days it takes everything within me to keep a positive outlook on life. It is so easy to not get discouraged when it seems as though everything always ends up in someone else's favor but my own. 

I look around and it seems as though everyone else is getting that perfect job. The perfect spouse. The perfect kids. The perfect talents. The perfect opportunities. The perfect life. I seek to have a glimpse of what that "perfect" might feel like, but it seems like something so utterly unattainable. Maybe because I'm looking to find perfection in all the wrong areas. I seek to aim for perfection only in the temporary aspects of my life, while forgetting that there's so much more than what I can see. 

Maybe why I'm so easily discouraged is because I'm looking for satisfaction in things that will boost my happiness, only to be left with utter discouragement when I can't keep it. If I could only secure my joy in something that would remain constant and steadfast. Knowing that God is the one source that will never let me down sounds like it would be an easy solution, but often times it feels impossible to focus solely on Him and not get distracted by my unmet desires. This world picks at our heart and causes our mind to be misled in so many directions. We were made to desire something that would fill our aching empty hearts, but yet we are looking in all the wrong areas. 

One way I have found to help overcome the distractions of this life is to recall that we are in a spiritual battle. The problems that we face everyday are just tiny glimpses of what is truly going on in the spiritual realm. The struggles, pain and difficult circumstances are only a glimpse of the amazing picture God is painting. If we can view our trials and tragedies as opportunities for growth we can begin to find a fresh perspective. When we let our discouragement overtake us and withhold us from making the most of our opportunities we are giving Satan the credit of achievement in our lives. Don't let him win. Don't let him control you. 

Root yourself in God's promises, they will remain secure in life's darkest of storms. Remember who your enemy is. Don't let him overcome. Let God fill those empty cavities that just can't seem to be satisfied by the temporary desires you crave, with an eternal perspective. Replace the negative thoughts and faulty perceptions you have of yourself with God's truth of who you truly are. Find joy in knowing where your eternal home is. This isn't the end, we're only on the brink of something so incredibly amazing!


Why Endure?

Sometimes struggles hit us hard and they leave us feeling paralyzed. Those debilitating thoughts and memories of the trial resound like a never-ending echo that just won't seem to cease. Once you think you've overcome the pain, it returns like a crashing wave of emotions flooding incessantly and feeling more oppressive than ever before. You just can't seem to rid yourself of the constant ache of the pain. What can you do to overcome? How will you get through? How are you supposed to endure? And better yet, why should you?

Maybe you've faced a circumstance that left your heart broken and feeling emptier than you ever could have imagined. Your trust was stolen and feels like it can never be restored. Trust is something so fragile and runs ever so deep. When trust is broken, it leaves us with disappointment. Not just with close relationships, but even more so in our relationship with God. When something tragic happens in our life we begin to ask questions, and in many cases, we question God's authority. We grow reluctant to hand over the intimate desires of our already battered heart, in fear of Him crushing our soul like it seemed He did in the past.

When we endure hardships, time after time, it is hard to continually recover from the intense blows thrown at us. It is in these times that we question our endurance. Why should we continue to fight? Why move on? If every time we get back up we are slammed to the ground yet again, why should we find the strength to get back up?

It's so easy to let hard circumstances get the best of us. It can seem so paralyzing to feel so out of control of your circumstances. We grow weary in the constant struggle of living in a world where it seems like evil wins and anything moral is viewed as corrupt. Where justice seems non-existent and integrity is disregarded. When effort is unrewarded and laziness is applauded. When the loudest is heard and humility is viewed as a weakness. How do we endure through the daily struggles and not lose heart?

Have you ever felt like your life was controlling you? Your thoughts and desires were overtaking your contentment and joy? Did you feel defined by your circumstances? Maybe the lack thereof? Control is something that we naturally desire. Having control over something makes us feel in authority. We don't feel helpless or uncertain when we have the control. I have found that when we have the control, we are not putting ourselves in a good position.

My first inkling when enduring through a rough situation is to take control. I want to know all the answers, details and information. I want to have insight into why it is occurring and the reasoning for God allowing it. I want to find out how it impacts my future and what lies ahead. Above all, I want to take the Driver's seat and lead my life in the direction I want it to go. I want to have full access to the details of my life and rewrite my story to be easy and pleasant. When things don't go as I had planned I feel like my desires and dreams are going unacknowledged and unheard. I want my requests for my life to be heard. It's my life so why shouldn't I?

Isn't that where we get carried away? We think this life is our own. We want our life to go our way. We want our life to be perfect like we see with all our friends. Our life is more meaningful than just being guided by our dreams and desires. It runs much deeper than that. God has called us to more than an easy life filled with perfect days with no struggles or hardships. If we didn't have difficulties what would shape our character? If we didn't have heartbreaks what would show our strength? If we didn't fail what would show our endurance? If we didn't grow weak what would show God's strength?

When terrible things occur it leaves us with many questions. Although we may never understand the full extent of our pain, we can rest assured that it is being used for an amazing purpose, in fact, probably thousands!

We can endure through our struggles knowing that each of the scars engraved on our heart are shaping us into refined gems being used by God. If we weren't faced with trials we wouldn't have the ability to seek Him and continually strengthen our character. Even though every day may seem like another mountain to trek, and the pain seems incessant, we can rest assured that it is achieving us eternal glory that we often think goes unnoticed. Each circumstance God is using to test our endurance and refine our character. We only see a tiny glimpse of the meaning our lives hold.

When we are overwhelmed with all that seems wrong in our lives, we don't have to worry because we aren't in it alone. God has promised to be by our side. He promises us that He is working for our best. He understands our pain. He never overlooks an offense. He sees every effort. He's using whatever you're enduring through to prepare you for what's ahead.

Deuteronomy 8:2

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

It may feel like you're stuck in a "prison" with your circumstances and there's nothing you can do to escape, but God's using you right where you are so you can touch others around you that only you can do. He's placed certain circumstances into your life, although they may seem insignificant and damaging, but they are being used in remarkable ways. God is using the mundane in your life for something spectacular.

It may feel like He is withholding things from you, leaving you feeling trapped and imprisoned in, but even Paul touched millions through the letters he wrote through a time of imprisonment that he viewed as unproductive. Those letters have been used to touch so many and later became the book of Corinthians. God is using your life, although it may seem insignificant, for great things. It may seem like everyday is filled with the same daily frustrations that never cease, but He's using these tiny tests to see what's in your heart and if you remain committed. You never know just what God's using to shape you and how your actions touch others. Don't lose heart in the long lulls and enduring struggles life throws at you. This world is only temporary, but all this pain will be worth the reward!