Karen made the point this morning that there is freedom in not conforming to the ways of the world. This really resonated with me.
I don't know if it's just where I am in my life right now, but I often measure myself - my position at work, my accomplishments, whatever - against others who are around the same age. My new year's resolution, for several years running now, has been to stop comparing myself to other people. (Ha! It's really working...) It is a constant challenge - we are always being shown images of "success" in our society - what we are supposed to be striving for. And as Karen said, it can be very draining when we don't meet those expectations.
So when we are told that we are not to conform to the ways of the world and that there is nothing we can do to earn that love of God - that our jigsaw puzzle picture maybe looks different than we thought it did - that is totally liberating. And because of God's grace, we are free to pursue the other things mentioned in Romans 12 - to let love be genuine, to live in harmony with one another, to persevere in prayer, to overcome evil with good. We are transformed and can live the life God has called us to live.