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Permission to Release Old Ways of Living

Permission to Release Old Ways of Living

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. — Romans 12:2

I don’t think we ever purpose to live in a fake, pretend, or counterfeit way. But I do think that our lives have been shaped by our early experiences and daily choices. The hurts we’ve endured shape us. The opinions we give ear to guide the way we choose to live. But when you look at the life of Courtney, you just see Courtney. When you pass Frieda at the mall, you just see Frieda. When you sit beside Tammy at a sporting event, she’s just Tammy. There’s no flashing neon sign over them announcing Comfortable Courtney! Fearful Frieda! Traumatized Tammy! Pleasing Pam! Unsupported Unique!

The women we know as our sisters and friends are just themselves, right?

Yes and no.

Yes, they’re precious individuals, created by God, who’ve endured the same kinds of bumps and bruises we all have along their journey. But they may not be the most authentic versions of themselves. So many of the ways that they protect themselves from being hurt again, or adjust who they are to please others, mean that they’re not yet living in the fullness of what God has for them. And the same is true for our lives.

And in the absence of those helpful neon signs, some of us are left wondering whether the life we see before us is counterfeit or authentic — many times because it’s the only life we’ve ever known. There’s no value in judging other women for the ways they are or aren’t being authentic, but there is great value in weighing whether we ourselves are living authentically.

  • If were hungry to become the truest version of ourselves, were going to have to be willing to open our lives up for inspection.

The good news is that we don’t have to invite the whole neighborhood. This is between you and God. And as I share the signs of a counterfeit life, I welcome you to notice which ones might identify you, in some small or large way. And as we continue this journey, you’ll have the opportunity to address these. But for the moment, your job is simply to notice.

But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. — Matthew 6:33

The woman living a counterfeit life fails to prioritize a vibrant, personal relationship with God.

Let’s be honest: it’s easier to let a relationship slide — with a friend, a relative, a colleague, a neighbor — than to nurture, water, feed, and grow it. And what’s true of our relationships with people is true of our relationship with God. What’s most convenient, what’s easiest, is to put a relationship on standard mode. And then we rationalize to convince ourselves that it’s all good.

I went to church on Sunday, so I’m good.
I read a Bible verse on a card my grandma sent me, so I’m good.
I prayed before dinner, so I’m good.
I hollered God’s name when I hit my toe, so I’m good.
I’ve known God for decades, so... I’m good.

Yeah, I know it sounds corny. But when we’re in a season where we’ve let our relationship with God slide, our minds do these mental gymnastics to justify our choices. And the withdrawal might actually sneak up on us. Maybe we begin to opt for an extra hour of sleep rather than getting up to spend time with God. Or we blame our retreat from relationship with Him on having a hectic schedule. We come up with all kinds of excuses to justify failing to make God a priority.

And on the outside we might be looking good. People might think well of us because we show up for everyone else. We’re busy with good things. But we don’t give the time and space to focus on what’s important to God: relationship.


The woman living a counterfeit life clings to the “extras” that fail to give her worth. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29–31).

The woman living a counterfeit life might not even consciously realize that she’s trusting in extra things, but they drive her. And she believes that if she achieves them, she’ll finally be worthy.

When I get married, I’ll be worthy.
When I get the degree after my name, I’ll be worthy.
When I get the house, I’ll be worthy.
When I lose the weight, I’ll be worthy.
When I get one hundred thousand followers, I’ll be worthy.
When I become a mom, I’ll be worthy.

  • Well, the devil is a liar.

And this is one of his favorite deceptions. He convinces us that our value can somehow be achieved if we do this and don’t do that, get this, and lose that. And so we rush, strive, and live discontentedly, but in the end we’re still empty. When we pin our worth to any person, goal, achievement, we will never know our true value that is found only in God.


The woman living a counterfeit life strives to please people rather than receiving the truth of who she is from God.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. — Romans 12:2

This woman doesn’t receive her identity from God. She isn’t in fellowship with those who are able to affirm who she really is in God, so she looks for validation from others. And because she’s not spending time with God, she hasn’t given Him room — and permission — to transform her mind and her life!

She might be stuck in a harmful relationship because she needs affirmation. She might even be holding on so tightly to her man, because she wants a husband, that she’ll ultimately delay God’s good plan for her because what she wants gets in the way. I sometimes say this woman thinks of herself as Jesus Junior. She thinks she’s sovereign.

She might be stubbornly bent on pursuing the path her family expects of her.

She might be driving herself into the ground in the name of serving others.

But because her ear isn’t turned toward God’s voice, she cannot be set free. She is much more willing to believe what the world says about her than what God says about her. She’s so busy trying to please others that she loses sight of trying to see things the way God does — by allowing Him to transform her mind. And she neglects to choose His way because she is trying to please others rather than recognizing that God’s way is best.

She fears that if she’s not pleasing others she will be abandoned. And, as a result, she never feels affirmed as the unique woman God made her to be. Not only does this woman ignore and reject the truth of who God made her to be, she spends time with those who also fail to affirm the truth of who she is. Pam, the people pleaser, is busy doing all sorts of good things for others. But as a pleaser, she seeks validation from others rather than from God. If she gets enough Likes on a social media post, she feels good. If there aren’t enough Likes, she feels as though she is worth less. And while Pam isn’t that girl who seeks out affection in clubs with strange men, she is in a relationship in which she compromises her moral standards to hold on to a man who she hopes will validate her.

Yet the appreciation of others, bringing snacks to every one of her daughter’s games, the comments on Instagram, the attention of the boyfriend who’s using her — it’s never enough to satisfy Pam.

Without the affirmation of her truest identity, which only God can provide, she continues to seek it from those who can never satisfy.

Prayer Prompt

God, show me the area of my life in which I care more about the opinions of others than I do about Your opinion of me.

Excerpted with permission from Permission to Live Free by Jackie Greene, copyright Dr. Jackie Greene.

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Your Turn

You and I don’t intend to live counterfeit lives and we don’t even want to! But, in order to become our authentic selves, we have to fully open to the Lord’s instruction which means we have to live fully connected to Him! His perspective is the only one that truly matters. ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full