Authentically You Day 1: Pressure
I am restless … because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked. For they drop trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me. (Psalm 55:2-3, ESV)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, ESV)
If you’re a Disney fan like me you’ve likely seen the new movie Encanto about a Colombian family with magical powers. One character named Luisa perfectly encapsulates what pressure can do to a person. She sings a song called “Surface Pressure” about feeling weighed down by the needs and desires of everyone around her. On the surface she is calm and strong, but underneath she is buckling under the weight of pressure from all sides. When we consider pressure as it relates to our personality, we often jump right to peer pressure, but pressure comes from all aspects of our lives. On any given day we feel pressure to fit in to our friend group, our family dynamics, our local church, and the world. This pressure is not always bad, but often the burden of fitting in can completely alter our personalities.
Peer pressure. We’ve all been there. We’ve all stood in a group of friends or acquaintances and laughed at something we didn’t particularly find funny or we contributed to a jab at someone else. We all want to feel like we belong, and if conforming to the attitudes/habits/appearances of others will help us do that, it is far too easy to comply. For girls, especially, there is pressure to look the same and dress the same as your peers to feel welcomed. While some of these may fade with age, we are faced—and will continue to be faced—with pressure from peers. Even among believers there is pressure to act a certain way, read certain books, or not do certain things.
Worldly pressure. This type of pressure often goes hand in hand with peer pressure. The media of the world has a profound impact on who we choose to be. What the latest fashion trends are, how much we weigh, how we speak, and what we believe are just some of the things that cause us to feel like our lives are under a microscope. Once again, we are faced with the desire to fit in. We want so badly to be deemed acceptable by the world that we are willing to completely alter our personality and beliefs to feel welcomed. Instead of being true to ourselves we choose to be defined by the ideals of the world. I don’t think I need to tell you how dangerous this is.
Family pressure. This may be a new concept for some readers. You may be thinking, How can pressure from family ever be bad? Well, more times than not pressure from family can cause us to stray from the person God has designed us to be. While many values brought to us by our parents or grandparents are important, often we are faced with pressure among our family members to belong in a certain way. We must all think or behave the same way. We must all have the same opinion and be acceptable in our parents’ eyes. Once again, this is often not a bad thing, but even still this can dramatically affect how we learn and grow. It is even more true as we move into adulthood or a different phase of life.
With all this pressure we are bound to crack. So how do we counter it? Well, we must change who we look to for guidance. While friends and family may be helpful, our first source for guidance should always be God. He, as our Creator, knows us better than anyone. He designed us to be exactly who we are, and when we look to Him and His Word first, we will find that we are more ourselves than ever. Instead of pressure that breaks us, God’s pressure shapes and molds us into priceless gems.
My challenge to you today is take inventory of your pressure points. Evaluate the who, what, where, when, and how of the pressures you feel. Take these before God and ask Him to help relieve you of these pressures and turn instead to Him. Ask Him to give you guidance and to help you to become the most authentic version of yourself as you grow closer to Him.