“Here, would you like some grapes? I’m sorry. I didn’t have the time to go buy organic.”
“You’re buying greeting cards? I just buy them in bulk at the warehouse down the street. It’s cheaper.”
“My hubby and I got a new car. The old one was going to need a $1000 tune-up. We needed this new car. Doesn’t it look swank?”
“Do you grind your own wheat? If not, let me know and you can use my grinder. It’s so much better for you.”
“My husband and I are now mentoring four couples each week and we also meet with our own mentor too. We just feel God is using us as a tool to help others grow in the Lord.”
You should be more frugal. You should live in this neighborhood. You should homeschool your kids. You should send your kids to this school. You should spend this much time in the Word. You should be serving others in the community this often. You should be mentoring others so many times a week. You should be serving your husband by keeping the house clean, the chores done, and cooking a hot meal every night. You should. You should. You should.
You ever feel the pressure? It’s everywhere. Pressure to be this or that. Pressure to live a certain way, do a certain thing or buy a certain product. All the quotes above are from dear friends of mine–comments they have made to me in the last month or so. While they often shared with the intent to be helpful, can you hear the underlining pressure in them? It’s disheartening to think that they may have thought that I might expect a certain standard from them or that they may unknowingly expect a certain standard of me. No, I’m not cheap enough, organic enough, frugal enough, swank enough or godly enough to meet every person’s standards. Oh the pressure…if I were to give in it’d be more than I could bear.
Thank goodness God does not pressure us like that. He loves us and wants the best for us. He guides us to be and do our best only out of love but not out of the need to display an “I’m better than you” attitude. How encouraging the following verse can be in times like these.
“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30
Now let me take a few steps back. It should be noted that I’m not saying these friends meant to display an “I’m better than you” attitude. Quite the contrary. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they may not even have realized how their comments wedged into the small corners of my heart. Yes, I’m nearly positive they only meant to “help” me or provide me with “some good advice” or to share ” how God’s blessed them.” Yet, the impact it had on my soul remained nevertheless…
…or maybe I should say, the Holy Spirit seemed to use them to reach new depths in my soul because they made me wonder, “when I share something I’ve learned, do I sometimes come across like that–holier than thou…more organic than thou…healthier than thou…more frugal than thou…?” Oh God help me if I do. I am only a sinful human being just like any other excited to share what God is teaching me as the opportunities arise. Who am I to give sound advice to another?
That in turn got me to thinking–even this blog could sometimes come off as pressure-giving. “Look at Kathy,” you might think, “she’s got it all figured out. Her house is so organized or her preschool curriculum is amazing. Why can’t I be like that?” Yet you only see a small portion of the big picture. For instance, take our playroom today. What playroom you say? The playroom/school room that is one of my most popular posts to date. The one that many people like to look at because it is so organized, colorful, frugal looking, and…well you get the point. We love it. It has worked for us…most days. But today…let’s just say it was scary…no really…like I couldn’t even walk one step without falling over something scary. It was bad! All that to say, sometimes when we look at another’s life we think they have it all together and they really don’t have it any more together than you. Yet that impression in turn pressures us to do more…be more to the point that we are overwhelmed. Call it peer pressure…call it stress…call it keeping up with the Jones’ or what have you, it’s still there…beating at us… gnawing at us…pressuring us to become something more because we are not good enough already.
And who puts that pressure there? No, it’s not your friends or your family or society. Although they may be the vessels being used at the time, it’s really Satan who is behind it all desiring to break you down so you can’t go on and share Christ’s love with others. If you are not a Christian, he wants to keep it that way. And if you are a Christian, he wants so badly to make you look like and smell like and taste like someone who is NOT a Christian or at the very least someone who is not impacting others for the Lord because if no seed is being spread than at least the heavenly population is not growing.
Satan loves it when we give in to the pressures too. He loves to watch our money and time and everything God has given for our good to be tossed to the wind as we chase a dream or try to live up to society’s pressures because then he knows we have less time and money and love for what matters to God.
“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:5-6
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that eating organic or buying a new car or any of those things are bad. They are not (well at least not in my book), but don’t feel so pressured by them or society or even yourself that you are not living up to a certain standard. That is when Satan has a foothold in your heart…and mine.
When you feel like that here’s a few truths that have held me fast and kept me going when faced with moments like these:
- Never assume someone’s reason for “helping” you or giving you “sound advice” is because they think you are not good enough or need improvement. They may just be excited about a topic and want to share with you what they’ve been learning. Period.
- If you see someone whom you think has it all together or has the perfect life, remember that they are only human too and what may be your struggle may not be theirs. But don’t think they are struggle free–everyone has their challenges. If you need some encouragement in this regard, check out James 2.
- Make a list of priorities…now. Before the pressures hit. A list of life priorities. Who or what do you treasure most and in what order. Thus, when you feel pressured to have a perfectly clean house for a friend coming over but you also have 3 toddlers about and are trying to be “present” with them, you remember, “It’s okay. It’s not one of my top priorities now. I will get done what I can but spending time with my little ones is more important to me than a spic-and-span house.”
- Pray. It’s such a simple answer but how many times do we forget to do it when we are feeling the pressure? I know I am guilty of forgetting often. Yet by praying we can let the Holy Spirit guide us to distinguish: “is this God guiding me to try something new or is this the pressure from Satan, meant to destroy? What does God want me to learn from this or do as a result of this experience, if anything?” You might be surprised that oftentimes God may not want to have you “do” anything other than to exchange those pressure-feelings for peace. And His peace is definitely worth the exchange.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27