Working Hard to Earn Love

Enough is Enough, I’m Letting Go.

I want to talk about the mentality to strive, this mentality of feeling like you have to prove yourself to earn appreciation, love, or approval. I grew up in a household that felt very stringent on doing things to be recognized, and if I didn’t meet the mark, it felt like I wasn’t good enough. That sentiment has carried into my day to day, my marriage, and my relationship with God.

I feel like I always have to be serving in significant ways, connecting and helping others frequently, and keeping up with the house like “a good wife should.” The problem is that the bar for success is constantly moving, and I can never seem to do enough or believe I am enough. I keep thinking my worth is based on the work I do. I believe that my worth is based on how much I do, or that I have to earn love from my friends, family, and God.

Recently, after a long talk with my husband, I realized that constantly trying to prove myself will never win me anything, and that by thinking this way, I doubt the God that loves me and already accomplished the ultimate deed for me. Through trying to “earn” God’s love, I am saying that Jesus’s sacrifice wasn’t enough, and that it did not matter.

I think we forget how much what we do or how we act or what we say has a direct effect on how we see God. I hadn’t realized that I have been torching my relationship with God because I am trying to do it on my own, and by doing it on my own I am not trusting in who God says He is, who He says I am, and what He says He will do. God gave his one and only son, for me, for you and for everyone in your life.

God’s sacrifice should mean so much to us and shouldn’t be canceled out because we don’t believe in ourselves enough to receive it. You see, I struggle with this “Grace” thing because I don’t feel I deserve it, hence why I think I have to do something to earn it. The point I tend to miss, however, is that grace is a free gift God has given us. Why? Because we are his children, because we are his beloved creation, and He finds such joy in sharing His creation with us each and every day. God has given me so many blessings in the last year and a half, and most of my heart can’t understand why, but part of me knows it is all because of his love for me. God doesn’t gift grace or good in our lives because we turned in a good project, or because we checked off all the boxes of what it looks like to be a good person. God gifts us with good and grace because we are his children. I think when we take a step back and realize that his gifts are “just because” and we don’t have to do anything, we can stand firm in knowing we are loved and important to the one who has his fingerprint on our hearts. It is so easy to get lost in this day and age, it is so easy to break ourselves down, and not see what is “two-inches above the ground,” but God is present, all we have to do is look and listen. I know what you are thinking, though, is that it isn’t that easy, and my response to you is “Not on our own.”

One of the most significant blessings I have found in cultivating my relationship with Christ is prayer. I have realized so often that I don’t always pray in the right way or for the right thing. I pray for a to-do list to be done, or things to be resolved, but I don’t pray for the root issue that is causing the stress or the striving, I don’t pray for forgiveness in twisting who I see God as because of relationships I have had here on Earth.

To break down the walls, to pause and be replenished, prayer and stillness are key. We are not what we do, we don’t have to “do” more or less to earn love. We just have to be and walk with an open heart to receive love. Our walls built around our hearts can feel cozy and protective, but sometimes the wall is the thing keeping out the thing we need most. Simply put, set aside the agenda, set aside the striving, set aside the to-do list, and set aside time to pray, and to pray in the right way.

Trust in the sacrifice of Christ, and trust in the love God has for you, as you are.

Written by: Beth Cox