Do you struggle with approval addiction? My library is full of books on this subject, trying to get at the heart of why what others think about me matters so much. I’m guessing if there are books being written like crazy about this topic, I’m probably not the only one looking for some answers.
My background includes struggling with an eating disorder as an adolescent and a lifetime of insecurity, fear of rejection and desire to be liked by others. I recall distinctly a conversation with my therapist during college when she asked me the question, “So what?” What she meant by that was “so what if others don’t approve of you?” “So what if others don’t agree with you?” “So what if _________?” I looked at her like she had three heads…what a ridiculous question.
As I’ve matured, one would think that approval wouldn’t be as big of a deal as it once was, but I’m sad to say, I still struggle with it almost every single day. Of course it doesn’t help at all that I have access to a world of social media that gives you immediate feedback through likes and comments when you choose to put yourself out there for any reason. It saddens me to think about so many people who feel the need to take a post down or edit it if it doesn’t get the response they were hoping for. The culture of comparison only serves as a breeding ground for more insecurity when it’s something already in your soul.
The lesson that I have been trying to work through diligently in the last few months as I step into something more public than ever before is less of "if others approve of me" and more of "does God approve of me?" I’m guilty of placing human characteristics onto God as if He sees us in the same way we see one another. If I’m not careful I can begin to assume he puts us into categories the way we do. Like maybe he sorts us by which of us commits the small sins and which of us does the big stuff? Or by our socioeconomic status and the amount of earthly wealth we’ve accumulated? Or our gender or race or physical appearance? Or our intelligence or contribution to society? Or our level of influence, talent or popularity?
In 1 Samuel verse 16 we learn that “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
In light of that, when I ask, “does God approve of me?” I have to consider something completely different than what I would consider when seeking the approval of humans. I wonder if the veil of our physical bodies or earthly possessions was removed and the condition of our hearts was revealed for all to see if we would still be tempted to sort one another into the acceptable and unacceptable groups. Would those groups look vastly different?
The next time you feel yourself entering that space of comparison or approval seeking, I encourage you to instead ask yourself these questions:
1) What is the condition of my heart right now?
2) What does God think about me?
3) So what?
Then go to His word for your answers.
“Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
If you’re wondering if God approves of you, remind yourself he created you perfectly in His image and loves you enough that He gave His one and only son’s life for you. I’d say that’s a resounding “YES!”
Friends let’s please not read and hear the Words of God and let them fall off of us like raindrops on a window pane. These words are true. They are life changing. They are meant to encourage and comfort us. And we can believe every single word. YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Through on Purpose Coaching I provide tools to help you improve personal and professional relationships, live purposefully and discover the abundant life we are promised as believers in John 10:10. I would love to hear from you. Please reach out if I can help in any way!