The Subtle Lure of Cultural Pressure

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

WINNING WITH THE WORD

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Hello and Happy Day! This is Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, novelist and life coach, welcoming you to another episode of Winning with the Word. Today is Monday, May 16, 2022, and this is Episode #20 of Series 2022. This episode is titled “The Subtle Lure of Cultural Pressure”.
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We’ve all heard of peer pressure. Our parents warned us against it. If we heeded our parents’ warnings, we avoided a lot of suffering. If we did not heed our parents’ warnings, we paid dire consequences, many of which may still be operative in our lives today. 

Well, peer pressure isn’t just something young people need to guard against. Peer pressure is a tactic that Satan uses throughout our lives. And, if we are not aware of it, we will end up in some serious trouble.

Peer pressure has a lot of different names. One of the most common today is “political correctness.”  To be politically correct is to go along with a culture’s political and social agenda. Just look around. So many people–even so-called Christians–have caved in to the anti-Biblical, political and social agenda that is being blatantly and brazenly proclaimed throughout our country and throughout the world. We are witnessing active and arrogant rebellion against God and His Word. Opposition to God’s commandments has run wild, with the result that lawlessness prevails and deception runs rampant. 

The Bible calls peer pressure and political correctness “the fear of man.” Take a look at Proverbs 29: 25: “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”  A snare is a trap. So, the Bible is saying that when we fear man –in other words, when we worry about what people think–we fall into a trap.

What kind of trap?

A trap that leads to death and destruction.

Isn’t that what we’re seeing around us?  Death in the form of abortion, infanticide, increase in homicides and suicides? And destruction in the form of drug addiction, alcoholism, domestic abuse, and child abuse? Are we not seeing looting, shoplifting, vandalism, attacks against our law enforcement officers?

Indeed, we are. Our country has gone crazy because we have allowed ourselves to be taken captive by social and cultural pressure. We have caved in as a nation to putting more stock in what others think than in what God thinks.

Are you giving in to the peer pressure of societal lies? Are you sliding down the slippery slope that leads to death and destruction? Are you opposing God and exalting yourself?

Yes, that’s what peer pressure ultimately does. It exalts the Self over God. And, bottom line, that’s what’s wrong with our culture today. We have become a society of mini-gods, each one doing his own thing, each one deciding for himself what’s true and not true. Each one establishing his own rule of moral conduct.

Relativism is the name of the game these days. My truth is my truth, and your truth is your truth.  Well, how far has that gotten us? It has led only to mass confusion, societal and family division, and a people who can no longer think straight.

I urge you to take a hard look at yourself.  Are you supporting a social agenda that violates God’s commandments? Yes, I’m talking about abortion, homosexuality, gay marriage, euthanasia, greed, vandalism, looting and shoplifting, theft, homicide, crime, rebellion against authority, and hatred among people?  All of these things are contrary to God’s design for our lives. God will bring severe judgment on those who do not forsake their sin and repent.

What about you? Do you love the praise of men more than the praise of God? If so, you will never see the Kingdom of God. Are you willing to take such an eternal risk? Do you want to spend eternity–that’s forever–separated from God and tormented in Hell? Is the approval of others more important to you than the approval of God? If so, you are in grave spiritual danger.

My friend, I pray that you take this message seriously. 

Years ago, I heard a quote that has stuck with me. It is this: “Observe the masses and do the opposite.”  The crowd is heading in the wrong direction. If you want to be safe, don’t follow the crowd. Go in the opposite direction. 

Jesus said this in Matthew 7: 14: “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Do you want to be one of those few who find the way to life? If so, you must do things God’s way. For only His way leads to life.

The first step on the road to life is to accept Jesus Christ into your life as your Savior and Lord. He desires a personal relationship with you. Won’t you accept his invitation?

If you do not yet have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I urge you to establish one now. All you need to do is to repent of your sin, ask Jesus to forgive you, and invite him into your life. Please pray this simple prayer after me:

Lord Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner. I admit that I have been going the wrong way, my own way and not your way. I recognize that my sin put You on that Cross where You died for me. So, I repent of my sin, I turn away from it, and I ask You to forgive me. I invite You into my life now. I receive You now as my Savior and my Lord. Thank You for saving me. Make me what You created me to be. Amen.

If you sincerely prayed this prayer, welcome to God’s family! Please write down today’s date. It is your spiritual birthday. And please write to me at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com. I would like to send you a free PDF booklet titled After You’re Born Again. This booklet will help you to get started in your walk with Jesus.

I also encourage you to get yourself a Bible and read it every single day. The Bible is God’s love letter to you, His manual for your life. In the Bible, God reveals Who He is, and He teaches you how to live.

Finally, ask the Lord to lead you to the church of His choice for you where you can learn about Him and have fellowship and encouragement with other Christ-Followers. It is critically important in these last days to fellowship with other believers who are mature in Christ and who can guide you as you grow in Him.

If you did not pray this prayer with me, please reconsider. Jesus Christ is coming back soon to remove from the earth all those who follow Him. The rest of the world’s population will be left behind and will face the most horrific time in human history under the dictatorship of the AntiChrist. If you do not believe me, do your own research. 

Thousands of years ago, the Bible predicted exactly what is happening in our world today. Everything is coming to pass exactly as the Bible predicted. The Bible has never been wrong. I have been following Jesus for 52 wonderful years, and He has never failed me. Nor will he ever fail you if you choose to follow Him. 

I urge you: Follow Jesus Christ. Accept Him into your life. He is the only way to be saved.

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Until next time, remember that God loves you just as you are and just where you are, and that He will help you to keep on Winning with the Word!
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How to Accept Yourself Just the Way You are

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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I have a confession to make. I am a recovering perfectionist. Crooked pictures hanging on my walls send me into a flurry of straightening. Papers stacked in messy piles on my desk demand my making all the edges even. Clothes hanging out of order in my closet scream for re-ordering.

Perhaps you’ve never dealt with this evil spirit of perfectionism–and yes, it is an evil spirit–but if you have, there is hope for you.perfekt

First of all, let’s define perfectionism. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines perfectionism as follows: “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable.”  Does this describe you? If so, I can relate.

The question is, what is “perfection”?

One online dictionary says this: Perfection is “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes perfection as “something that cannot be improved.”

Interestingly, the word perfectionism does not appear in the original version of this dictionary as written by Noah Webster in 1828. In that dictionary, the word perfectionist is defined as “an enthusiast in religion.”  Could perfectionism be related to legalism?  I think so.

Another definition of perfectionism is this: “a doctrine holding that religious, moral, social, or political perfection is attainable, especially the theory that human moral or spiritual perfection should be or has been attained.” The truth is that perfection is not attainable on this earth and never will be.

My personal definition of perfectionism is more in line with that of the American Psychological Association: “the need to be or appear perfect.” Notice the word need. This definition implies that perfectionism fills a need, albeit in an unhealthful way. It also leads us to examine the root causes of perfectionism. Why would one need to be perfect? Why would one need to appear perfect? Does it have anything to do with acceptance? Acceptance by others or, even more important, self-acceptance?

Let’s take a closer look, for only when we destroy the root of perfectionism can we eliminate the fruit of perfectionism.

A perfectionist is someone who derives her worth from her performance. Not a good thing. In fact, to attempt to derive one’s worth from one’s performance is to believe the lie that one’s worth comes from one’s performance. Not true!  One’s worth comes from God, plain and simple. There is nothing we can do to earn our worth. It is given to us by God and can never be taken from us. It is an inherent characteristic of our humanity.

So why do we fall into the trap of perfectionism?

1–Parental Response.
Parents often unwittingly open the door to the spirit of perfectionism by showing pleasure when a child performs well and displeasure when he does not. For example, a parent may look at a child’s report card and focus on the only C instead of the four A’s. This sends the message to the child that he is loved only when he performs well. As the child internalizes this message, he starts to believe that he is not loved for who he is but for what he does. This is conditional love–love based on the condition that the child perform well.

We were designed by God to thrive only when loved unconditionally–without the need to perform in order to be loved.  Our hearts want to be loved simply because we are, not because we do. Being, not doing, is the essence of God’s love for us.

2–Peer Pressure. We all want to be accepted by others. Acceptance is a vital part of good human relationships. But the degree to which we desire the acceptance of our peers varies. The problem arises when we look to our peers for the acceptance that should only come from God. When we derive our self-worth from the acceptance of our peers, we fall into the trap of perfectionism.

3–Personal Perception. Too often, we fall into the trap of perfectionism because of the wrong way we see ourselves. We may compare ourselves to others–a practice condemned by Scripture–or we may reject ourselves because we are not the perfect creatures we think we should be. Such an attitude breeds self-hatred and self-condemnation which, in turn can lead to physical illness.

So, what can we do to overcome perfectionism and to accept ourselves just as we are–imperfect human beings trying to make the best of life? Here are a few truths I’ve discovered over the years of dealing with my own perfectionism and of coaching countless people struggling with perfectionism:

1–Recognize that perfectionism is a form of self-hatred and self-rejection. I was stunned to discover this truth because I never thought I hated myself or rejected myself.  But the truth is that perfectionism is our attempt to accept ourselves because of what we do rather than who we are in God’s eyes. When we fall short in our performance, we get angry with ourselves and, eventually, we will grow to hate ourselves or reject ourselves because of our imperfection.

2–Recognize that perfectionism indicates we are still trying to earn God’s love. Since perfectionism is often related to a parent’s acceptance or rejection of us based on our performance, we think that God also accepts or rejects us based on our performance. This is legalism, not grace. We do not earn God’s love by performing well. We do not nor cannot earn God’s love at all. He simply gives it to us because He is God and He is Love.

3- Recognize that perfectionism is a form of idolatry. It places our focus on our performance and not on God’s grace. In short, perfectionism puts what we do above what God did for us. Idolatry is sin.

4- Recognize that perfectionism is different from excellence. Excellence simply means doing our best. Excellence allows for failure as we work toward our goals. When we are striving for excellence, we still accept ourselves when we fail. In all that we do, we should strive for excellence, not perfection.

If you are struggling with perfectionism, let me encourage you. Jesus will set you free. As you yield your perfectionism to Him, He will drive it far from your life.

You also have a part to play. That part is to resist the evil spirit of perfectionism whenever it tempts you. Now, whenever I am tempted to straighten the crooked pictures on my wall, I resist the temptation and, smiling, I let them stay crooked and walk away. 🙂

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN: Do you struggle with perfectionism? If so, what have you done to get it under control so you can accept yourself?

TWEETABLE:  “Perfectionism is not the same as excellence.” – Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, “How to Accept Yourself Just the Way You Are” (CLICK TO TWEET)

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