I have been humbled lately. The biggest thing that I struggle with has reared it's ugly head and made itself quite known in my life. It's something I've struggled with since I was a child and has only gotten worse as an adult and is affecting the good relationships in my life. Due to this, God has been screaming at me lately! Screaming at me to wake up and trust Him with it.
I share this so that you can pray for me and perhaps some of the words will encourage you.
I am addicted to approval from others.
I want to share with you how God has spoken to me about it, but first, I want to discuss why we struggle with this. I know I'm not the only one as there are many books written on it. I plan to read one soon!
A couple weeks ago, I attended my church's women's retreat and Nicole Unice was the speaker (side note: ladies, read her book "She's Got Issues"). Her lesson on Saturday morning (not to mention, the whole weekend) was exactly what I needed to hear.....not a coincidence (wink, wink...God). She said this:
Our human nature always presents the temptation to live for:
1) Acceptance from others
2) Approval from authority
These temptations reveal our deepest longing for worth and approval.
I believe this can be a product of so many things in our childhood....perhaps it was a parent that pushed you to be perfect and never accepted anything less, perhaps your parents always affirmed you and never corrected you, leading you to believe that you could do no wrong, perhaps nothing was ever good enough for your parents and you spent every day trying to receive their approval, perhaps you had pressure from your peers to be a certain way and that need for approval stuck with you. There are so many possibilities, but I'm pretty sure that if you inspect your past, you'll find some answers. I think we are all tempted at some point to desire the approval of others, because you want to know that you're worth it. The problem lies here...we seek it from humans aka our peers aka our parents aka our coworkers aka our significant other aka anyone with an opinion. The answer: we can only find our worth and identity in Jesus Christ...but I'll expand on that later.
I want to share some Biblical examples of this:
Nicole shared this story from 2 Samuel 6:12-22 about David dancing in the streets, sacrificing burnt offerings and handing out a lot of gifts as the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem. Saul's daughter, Michal, thought it was quite ridiculous and ridiculed him for it. She even called him vulgar. I'll be honest...I would have started questioning my actions and started apologizing so that she would like me again. But David doesn't. He stands up for himself and says "I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this and will be humiliated in my own eyes." I respect him for not caring what she thought. He knew that what he was doing was right in the eyes of the Lord and he didn't let it phase him. Note taken. Thank you, David.
So I'm reading the Via Crucis by Shawn Small during Lent this year. I have also been reading The Cross-centered Life by C.J. Mahaney (thank you, Megan!) and in this, my eyes keep coming back to the Cross. This is how it should be...I pray that I continue to do so even past Lent. All things come down to the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was sacrificed because our Father loves us unconditionally...that's it...it's offered to you and you can do nothing to deserve it, just accept it. But back to my point...Jesus was brought before Pilate during this "trial" process after being arrested. In Luke 23, Pilate tells the people that he has found no basis for the charges against Jesus. He knows that Jesus has done nothing wrong, nothing worthy of being executed. But to please the people, he says he will punish him and then have him released. So they beat him. They tortured him to the point that he no longer looked like himself. But that wasn't enough for the people. They keep yelling, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" But it says in verse 20 that he wanted to appeal to them (the people). In verse 24 he decided to grant their demand. He let a guilty man (Barabbas) go and killed an innocent man....all because he didn't want the people to hate him...or even kill him. You see, Pilate cared too much about what other people thought about him. He crucified our Savior in order to keep his name clear with society. Every time that give in just to appease other people, am I not also crucifying my Lord?
Over the past 2.5 years, I've realized my need to look good in others' eyes. Around that time, through some specific events, I finally broke down, talked to a counselor about it and started my healing. It was great for a while, but then I've let it slide back in and take over my heart. I've found myself crying and wanting to prove to someone that I'm worthy of being his or her friend and that they should like me when I did nothing wrong. Even when I was wrong, I found myself caring more about what the person thought than asking forgiveness for what I did. I've found myself worrying like crazy in my head and heart, thinking that someone doesn't like me when in reality, they probably don't think that at all, yet I stress, give myself ulcers and cry because I'm so worried about it. It's exhausting!
So the weekend of the retreat, I finally broke down and said, "God! What am I doing wrong?! I thought I was done with this!" And he told me this (through a perfectly timed text sent from my friend, Jennifer), "[Kelli], I (the Lord) will fight for you! You need only BE STILL!" (Exodus 14:14) Ok, ummmm, God, how am I supposed to do that?? But throughout the next two days, talking to a few people and praying with them, I realized that it meant that I will never be able to get over this approval addiction on my own. All I can do is surrender it to God. That's it. He is the only One with the power to truly set me free.
Nicole shared these verses with us which have become a staple in my every morning since that weekend:
"In my anguish I cried to the Lord,
and he answered by setting me free.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
I will look in triumph on my enemies.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it!"
I know this will be an ongoing battle throughout my life. But if I take refuge in the Lord, it will not cripple me, it will not damage good relationships. If I look for my worth in the Lord and not in other people, I can live with confidence that I am His beautiful creation...as are you...this is not just reserved for me, you know. ;-)
So please pray for me in this. Please pray that I would stop caring so much about what others think. Pray that I would find my identity in Christ, not in mere humans, as some translations say.
As Psalm 118:28 says, "You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you."
(so much for my posts not being long...ha!)