I would like to encourage you to participate in a small exercise. Try it right now if possible. Imagine for a moment the only expectations in life are the one’s God has shared with you in His Word. This means the expectations of your family, friends, employer and church family are non-existent. The voices from your past that often drive your actions were never spoken. Self-help books were never written, and those magazines on the grocery rack that promise a “better life now” are not present.
If this was the case, would it be easier for you to be honest with God about your needs, and less consumed with comparisons? Obviously, these things do exist. It is also true many of them help reinforce God’s Word. Indeed, God has put other people in our lives for the sake of accountability and encouragement. But in reality, God’s will for our lives is the only thing that ultimately matters, and the only burden for conformity we should allow others to put on our shoulders is that we be transformed into His image. The apostle Paul clearly articulated this goal in his letter to the church in Rome: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)
I instinctively resist man-made spiritual systems that are loaded with self-help jargon and led by experts who claim to have unlocked the secret of a happy life. It seems to me they are heavy on guilt and human compliance and weak on the abiding grace of Jesus. A good rule of thumb is to be careful about trusting our souls to anything that requires the three-digit code on the back of our credit card.
Therefore, if your faith has been shaken by your circumstances, resist the urge to use someone else’s answers. Instead, surround yourself with people of faith who are committed to helping you discover how God is moving in your life. Make sure they are the kind of believers who understand God’s unique design for every individual and His infinite wisdom in putting the pieces of our lives back together. If you are blessed with these kinds of companions on your journey you will never need to cheat. Were you to do so, you would truly be cheating yourself.