By Shayne Vincent

“For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:10-11).

For far too long, people have been buying and selling love and approval through the currency of success. We are accustomed to earning acceptance through being “good” or reaching the “top.” We want to know where we stand; we want to fix, to know, to control outcomes. Yet, while success might cloak itself in social fawning and illusions of safety, it is often just a facade for our betrayed inner child.

Trust is terrifying when we are like a dog that was kicked around too much. Rules, structure, hierarchy, achievement, discipline—these all appeal to our brokenness, to our fear; they are forms of salve for the uncertainties of life. The obsession of control is within all of us, flowing from our deepest longings for security and love.

To let go of controllable acts is terrifying because it requires we depend only upon trust, that we’ll be expected to play without having rehearsed, and that we can no longer twist God’s arm until He cries “uncle.” And with a lifetime of betrayal and hardship behind us, our greatest fear is to be “needy.” Our lives are dedicated to avoiding risk, need, and the exposure of our inner vulnerability.

In our fear-laden rush to succeed, we fail to see that there is a place of significance for limitation. That no matter the illusions of our demi-godhood, limitation is a constant; the world remains broken. Therefore, to truly heal, we must embrace the grey turbulence of uncertainty as a normal part of life in a sinful world.

Healing happens when we cast our soul into the fire. The magic of the river of fear purifies the soul. Our pathway to freedom requires us to confront what we have been running from all along . . . the truth. To truly live, to be fully alive, we must be naked before God, and humanity, exposed, vulnerable, needy, [gasp] trusting.

Faith must replace our death grip. Risk must replace walls. Vulnerability must replace resentment. Honesty must replace ego. Wisdom must replace naivety. Action must replace avoidance. Love for others must replace love for things. For in mutual brokenness, we will find acceptance. In embracing one another, we will find the courage to heal. In grace, we will find the certainty of hope.

We must also acknowledge that God is not obligated. Rather, we are the ones who are dependent. And if we’re willing, apparently we are already free, because perfection was only the imaginary goal of an approval addict.  Yet isn’t this the very thing that God was always trying to heal? The broken little kid who only ever wanted love? To know that they do belong? That they have always been a part of God’s family? We have always had something important to offer. We are free to love without secret motives. We are free to rejoice in an unearned redemption. We are free to pursue success without necessity. We are free to just be.

–Shayne Mason Vincent, MSW, is lead pastor for the Casper Wyoming District. Email him at [email protected] or visit his blog: