“You don’t have to try so hard; you don’t have to give it all away….You don’t have to try, try, try, try, try….”
The lyrics streaming over the radio caught my attention. Ever get tired of try, try, trying? Wish someone would say you don’t have to try so hard? Don’t get me wrong. I think putting forth our best effort—no matter what the task—brings both success and satisfaction. But sometimes our trying gets tainted. We become harried waitresses attempting to serve too many entrees at too many tables. Our attempts —either to meet self-imposed ideals or others’ expectations—wear thin.
Our longing for God’s approval can be even more damaging. It can thrust us on a treadmill of thinking we have to do more and more to maintain his favor. Our pursuit of the acceptance we already have distorts God’s image. It moves him from a loving Father whose directives are for our good, to a difficult-to-satisfy master. It causes us to miss the point: he values who we are over what we do.
I’m a new grandma. My weeks-old grandson doesn’t have to try one single thing to make me love him more. Whether he’s sleeping, fussing or nursing—it doesn’t matter—he has my full approval. An approval based not on what he does (or doesn’t do), but on who he is…he’s my daughter’s son. My grandson. How sad if somewhere in his little baby-mind he started thinking Maybe if I didn’t cry, or if I slept through the night, or if I didn’t have to eat so much… they would love me more. Ridiculous, right?
About as ridiculous as our futile attempts to earn either God’s approval, or man’s. It’s funny how the more intimate our relationship with God becomes, the less we care about proving ourselves to others. That’s why Paul could say if he were still trying to please people, he wouldn’t be a servant of Christ.
The truth, my friend, is you don’t have to try so hard. Never compromise who God has created you to be to win the approval of anyone. Trust in the wisdom of a Father who created you for his unique purpose. Don’t run yourself ragged…
Stop try, try, trying…and start trust, trust, trusting.