Growing up, my parents made me take piano lessons. I started when I was in the 2nd grade, and they finally let me quit in 9th grade when basketball dominated my extra time. As you can probably tell already, I just loved it (insert sarcasm radar here). Both of my sisters also took lessons, and both were much better than I. We went every week, and my parents were very consistent at making us practice. They paid for it, after all! My mom would sing, “Practice, practice, practice, practice every day! If you want to get better, that’s the only way!” We would also hear, “Practice makes perfect,” somewhat often. So when I had a piece of music in front of me, I would play it many, many, many times. Over and over and over again. And just when I thought I pretty much conquered it, I would mess up. Sometimes I would try a piece, and if I felt it was just too hard, I would stop trying. And when all this happened, I would bang the keys, hang my head low in frustration, and proclaim, THIS IS THE WORST.
I was recently talking with a friend about a constant struggle that I have. It’s as if it is embedded me. From as far back as I can remember I have struggled in this way. I have relational anxiety that is exposed through people’s approval. I’ve realized that relationships are my god, and if I feel as if I don’t have someone’s approval, it can crush me. It makes me anxious. I am allowing that person to fill a void they were never meant to fill, that only Christ can fill. I’ve known this about myself for a long time, but yet, I still seem to sometimes struggle with it!
Recently, however, in God’s grace, he has revealed to me the tools to resist the temptation of people-pleasing. But here’s the thing, the temptation is often there, and I still sometimes fall. When I find myself in a downward spiral of self-deprecating thoughts associated with my desire to people-please, it’s easy to get frustrated. It’s so easy to think, “Why do I keep doing this?!” Although many times, by God’s grace, I see victory in this constant struggle, yet I still am aware that I am prone to this specific temptation. Sometimes it’s just downright exhausting!
In community group this week, we were reading in 1 John, and how the evidence of Christ in us, is revealed by our desire to run from sin and seek righteousness, although we will still sin. I do believe there are many sins that Christ conquers in us, while we are here on earth. But how frustrating can it be, to struggle with the same thing over and over again. To see small victories, only to give into the same temptations yet again.
I want to encourage you to keep at it. To keep practicing righteousness for the rest of your life. It’s so easy to look at someone who doesn’t struggle with the same sins and become discouraged and think they are just better at it. Or sometimes we get lazy, and we just don’t want to practice. Sometimes it doesn’t feel good, especially when it’s hard. And sometimes we just want to quit and give in to our fleshly desires. But how encouraging is it, that we can know for certain, that if we practice righteousness our entire life, our final state will be perfection when we meet Him in glory? To see Him face to face and get the ultimate approval for which we have longed. We get to be with Him.”For glory means good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all of our lives will open at last.” (C.S. Lewis).
So keep practicing, and don’t give up. Perfection is coming.