#PreApproved Writer of the Week: Susan Stilwell
#PreApproved Sisterhood Series
Welcome to a new series, hosted here on the blog. Every Tuesday night, one of our PreApproved sisters will share her story on letting go of a love idol.
Together, we’re giving up our love idols, and we’re not taking them back.
We are already approved; we have nothing to prove. In Christ, we are #preapproved.
When Life Feels Like A Game Of Whack-A-Mole
It started simply enough. Please someone, be appreciated, feel loved. Easy peasy.
For a time. Then it got out of hand.
My life felt like a game Whack-A-Mole. You know how it goes: a mole pops its head up and you smack it back down. Then another mole, and another. Before you know it, moles are popping up all over the board and you’re wearing yourself out trying to beat them all down.
People pleasing was like that for me. One expectation popped up and I triumphantly smacked it down with a good performance. Then another expectation popped up. And another. Before I knew it, I was frazzled and frustrated.
I’m the oldest in my family, which, if you know anything about birth order, makes me a perfectionistic people-pleaser. Most first-borns are. We also tend to be highly driven. That’s good because we accomplish a lot. It’s bad in that, according to some health professionals, it puts us at a higher risk for problems such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
It’s little wonder, isn’t it? You can only whack moles for so long before something gives.
Sometimes it’s your physical health; other times it’s your sanity. Mole-whacking also takes a toll on relationships, including our relationship with God.
If a good performance pleases the people in my life, we wrongly conclude, then it surely must please God! After all, Paul instructed,
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men… ~Col 3:23 (NIV)
So whatever I did, and I did a lot, I did with all my heart. At church, in my community, with my family. But only a handful of people noticed, and even fewer cared.
I stumbled across Revelation 2, the letter to the church at Ephesus. God knew all the things the Ephesians did, and He knew the good things I was doing. I stopped cold at verse 4:
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” ~Revelation 2:4 (NLT)
Excuse me, God? Of course I love You! Why else would I be working myself to half to death?
Little by little He revealed that much of my busyness was an attempt to prove my worth. My head knew that I wasn’t working for the applause of men; but, deep down, my heart longed for someone to acknowledge something. I not only yearned for validation from the people around me, but also from God.
I felt convicted to reconsider many of my obligations and took a closer look at my priorities. With fewer “moles to whack,” my life became more manageable and my relationship with Him, my love for Him, became deeper.
I wish I could tell you I’ve pulled the plug on the game, but I can’t. I have to keep a careful eye on my commitments, lest those pesky moles get out of control. I also have to watch my motives. I want to be sure I’m doing the things He wants me to do, not just work so that others will love me.
God loves me no matter what, and that’s enough. My name is Susan, and I’m preapproved.
Susan Stilwell is a freelance writer, motivational speaker and Bible teacher who loves discovering God at work the ordinary, day-to-day stuff of life. She loves listening to other’s stories and gets to hear plenty of them when she makes rounds as a hospital chaplain associate. Married to Steve since 1987, they have a young adult son and daughter, and tend their empty nest in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Connect with Susan through Twitter, Facebook, and her blog, susanstilwell.com
THE LOVE IDOL MOVEMENT
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