Huddled in blankets to keep out the early-morning chill, the small crowd sat expectantly on metal folding chairs in front of the church. Pale light was just starting to creep through the sky at this Easter Sunday sunrise service.
“I have always been a people-pleaser,” I began, my voice sounding thin and strange in the pre-dawn stillness. “I try to fit others’ molds, meet their expectations, and gain their approval.”
Striving for Perfection
Holding up a large mirror to the group, I continued. “It’s like I’m going through life with a mirror facing out, asking everyone, ‘What do YOU think of me? Am I OK? Do you approve? Are you happy with me? Am I doing it right?’
“Years of striving to be the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect employee drained every last ounce of my strength and energy, until finally there was nothing left. Exhausted and frustrated, I began to explode with anger and emotional outbursts at the slightest provocation.
“I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. So I thought I just needed to try harder, pray more, be stronger. But it wasn’t working. In trying to make everyone else happy, I ended up making myself miserable.
“For months I would dread getting up in the morning, thinking that I couldn’t possibly face another day and pretend that everything was fine, when I knew I was an emotional wreck.”
Streaks of pink and orange were starting to light up the sky as I continued. “At that lowest point of my life, God spoke the truth my heart needed to hear. He showed me that though I had been trying so hard to gain everyone else’s approval, I had HIS approval all along! And He assured me that I don’t need to earn His favor. He loves me unconditionally, just because I’m His daughter.”
With the rising sun warming my face, I read aloud Romans 8:11. “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”
Strength for Every Day
“Because Jesus has risen and is alive, and because I have given my life to Him, that SAME power that raised Him from the dead is living in me! It’s only HIS power living in me that gives me life and joy and strength for each day!”
Radiant full sunlight shone on each face as we stood and sang together, celebrating the life and power we have through the resurrection of Jesus.
“Christ the Lord is risen today! A-LE-LU-JAH!”
“I pray that you may know… the immeasurable greatness of His power for us who believe… God put this power to work in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” Ephesians 1:19-20 (NRSV)