This chapter totally hit me in my house. All my insecurities, my doubts of self-worth, my negative self perceptions. Every single negative thought and word in this chapter, plus some, I can name as mine.
I bet I'm not the only one.
I don't mean this to be a pity-post, so we won't delve further into my insecurities. I just want you to know that I am very much an approval-seeker. Yet if you tell me that you approve, I'll be incredibly self-conscious and uncomfortable.
I've been struggling with this all my life, but particularly in the last year, I've seen some resolution to those struggles as they've been brought forth. I'm well into my 40s now. While I know that the opinions of others don't matter as much, I still want their good opinion ("They like me, they really like me."). Heidi posted on her Facebook page an article, "What You Learn in Your 40s" (and she links awesome stuff all the time) and what the author learned is generally true.
If you worry less about what people think of you, you can pick up an astonishing amount of information about them. You no longer leave conversations wondering what just happened. Other people’s minds and motives are finally revealed.and
People are constantly trying to shape how you view them. In certain extreme cases, they seem to be transmitting a personal motto, such as “I have a relaxed parenting style!”; “I earn in the low six figures!”; “I’m authentic and don’t try to project an image!”(Well, we homeschool, so ...)
Clarkson is right, too, that we do this to one another within the church all the time. I want those people to like me most of all because I like them so much. Our pastor, though, has been preaching a lot about our identity in Christ and what it means to truly be a community. In the church, we ought not be putting on a pretty, happy, perfect face. How can we love one another authentically if we don't know each other's struggles? How can we encourage one another to righteousness if we're always trying to measure ourselves against an impossible list of "shoulds" that Jesus never placed on us? Remember last week, Heather reminded us that the burden Jesus expects is easy and light.
I had a revelation last summer. One Lord's Day I pretty much cried through both morning and evening worship. I just could not get myself together and the tears ran and ran. I saw in myself that thirst, that seeking, that hunger for approval. That desperate need for people around me to approve of me and how that was running my life and choices and sins. I saw the irony that I was completely out of control in front of the very people I most wanted to see me as able, confident, trustworthy, and a friend. I was appalled.
But, the Lord was gracious to me and revealed in that chaos of thought and tears a home truth:
There is but One whose approval I truly seek. It is that "Well done, good and faithful servant." which comes at the end of time to my Jesus, and if my identity is found in him, to me.