I was a “good girl.” While the “wild crowd” took risks in high school and college, my character remained pristine. I observed the dysfunctional people around me and determined not to be like them. “I will rise above that,” I told myself. “I just need the right information,” so I read books to help me be better than my peers.
When I was fourteen, I read Dale Carnegie’s classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People—and I never looked back. I continued to devour motivational and self-help books. I studied them, looking for the secrets to power and prestige. Ragged with notes in the margins, dozens of these books lined my college bookshelves, but there was always room for the next volume that promised me health, wealth, and influence.
These self-help books became my “fix.” They made me feel good; and they inspired questions like, who am I? Why am I here? Where am I headed—what do I want to do with my life?
There Has to Be Something More
In spite of my dedicated effort to self-improvement, I couldn’t find the answers to those questions… or ways to quiet my insecurities. “There has to be something more I can do,” I thought. So I added religion. Surely, religion would boost all my efforts. I began to attend every church service. I learned Bible passages. I hung out with Christians. I even joined “ministry outreaches.”
I was a “good church girl!”
In 1971, I joined a national revival team where I thought I’d turn my “goodness” up a notch. During a training camp, an evangelist spoke about forsaking sin and surrendering to God through Jesus Christ. At first, I dismissed his words. After all, I hadn’t been a prostitute, a murderer, or a “real” sinner. I knew all about Jesus—His death on the cross for my sin and His resurrection to offer me eternal life—but I didn’t know Him in a personal way. I wanted all the benefits of “religion,” but for God to control my life? No way.
Yet, I could not escape the sting of the message. I realized I was a proud woman, living for myself totally independent of God. My expectations, confidence, and hope were not in Him, but in my own abilities. Yet, my pride fought God for two weeks, knowing He wanted control of my life.
But then, during an assembly program, I stood with five other singers, singing, “Do You Know My Jesus?” Suddenly, I began to weep. I saw that my goodness was like dirty rags in God’s sight. I would never be good enough for Him.
As my pride broke, I left the platform in the middle of the song and knelt in the prayer room. God showed me in Ephesians 2:8-9 that my good works and intentions could never save me, but that if I surrendered to Him, He would enable me to live the life of true joy and significance that I’d sought since childhood.
The Self-Help Dilemma
As the “Queen of Self-Help,” I finally realized the problem with secular self-help books: while they give some good advice and teach positive character development and life skills—be a good listener, smile, be a good citizen, express appreciation, and make the other person feel important—the underlying principle is always by self, for self —win people to my way of thinking so I can get what I want. God is entirely left out. In fact, these books cultivated in me an independent spirit that rebelled against God. My confidence and hope were in my own skills and strengths. And when I failed, I sank into self-condemnation and depression—until the next book came along. The cycle was always the same.
Where Can We Look for Help?
Now I know how much God loves me—and you! He is our Helper. His Word, the Bible, contains all the wisdom we need. The book of Proverbs, for example, is rich with truth principles to guide us; and the New Testament shows us how to live a holy, fulfilling, God-centered life through Jesus Christ. I’ve learned that apart from Him, I can do nothing!
His Word is far superior than any self-help book!
What about you, Friend? Are you trying to do it yourself and struggling with surrender to God? He loves you and has your best interests at heart. Won’t you consider surrendering today by praying something like I prayed, many years ago?
Dear God, I am so tired of trying to make sense of my life without you, and I desperately need your forgiveness and your help. I surrender my heart to you. I put my trust in what Jesus did on the cross for me. I want to have a relationship with you. Please come into my heart and help me live for you. Thank you for saving me. Amen.
Did you surrender to God in prayer? This is the beginning of a great journey walking with Him. Open your Bible today and see how He will guide your steps.
~ Dawn Wilson
Dawn Wilson is a speaker, writer, and Bible teacher. She has the desire to see women develop powerful, passionate, purpose-filled lives as they fully embrace the truth of God’s Word. To connect with Dawn, visit her website at HeartChoicesMinistries.com