If You Crave Acceptance

Over the past year, I have absorbed, mulled over, identified with posts by lovely women who look “together”, love Jesus, and write clearly about their lives.

That is until Jennifer Lee challenged us by her own admission to the need for approval, her “Love Idol.”

She hit a nerve, raw, ragged, partially healed over, but jumpy.

And it scares me a little-no, a LOT- to look at my own scabbed-over, “need-for-approval” wound.

This idol goes deep.

As I thought about how to tell my story, I reflected: the wounds of being the last one picked for the softball teams, the pain of playing with the “dirty welfare kids” at recess because the other girls all ran off and hid, being the brunt of jokes about strict parents.

The scars continued to receive new blows: not being asked to our high school prom, no invitations to the popular girls’ birthday celebrations, not even an invitation to a movie, either by a guy or girl.

Even my strengths became places for the battering ram of disapproval: being teased for getting good grades, snickers from choir members when a wrong note sounded in my piano accompaniment, comments about being “too good” for my classmates when I earned a purple ribbon at State Fair.

Though these are my details, you probably feel the pain if acceptance is your idol.

How far back does this idol go?  I’ve been looking within, and asking God to show me.

“As far back as your sister Eve, in the garden,” God said this morning when I prayed.

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“Ah, yes. And she walked and talked each day with God Himself.  Why was she not satisfied with that relationship?”

Though I don’t have the answer to that question, it helps me understand why this “Love Idol” of acceptance affects so many of us. Eve’s need even when she had daily fellowship with God discloses why periodically another tentacle of this beast slithers out to wring my heart.

Paul wrote from house custody in Romans 12:1,2 “I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship. Do not allow this world to mold you in it own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind.” (The Voice)

The problem is, I am a living sacrifice. Some days I choose not to climb up on the altar. Or sometimes the fire gets too hot and I slip down the side, hoping for an easier way to worship Him.

This isn’t the answer that I want. What I want is to check this idol off my list. I want to be done with it for good, never to feel it enmeshing my heart again.

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As long as my heart beats, the serpent will try to take my focus off Jesus.  As he did with Eve back in the garden, truth woven into his subtle lies slides in when I am distracted. He watches me for signs of busyness or exhaustion. Sometimes the deceiver comes after a spiritual high, when my normal rhythms are ebbing.

The Holy Spirit tunes my heart to God’s ways, God’s love, and God’s mercy. The discordant note of falsehood sounds softly behind the melody, but I am learning to trust the Spirit to help me hear it before it drowns out the beauty God pours into my life.

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4 thoughts on “If You Crave Acceptance

  1. Sheila, your wisdom and transparent heart here are so powerful and needed. I am so grateful for how you turn me to the Father, to the reminder of the relationship He always offers–and how the Holy Spirit is the only guide, the only voice, I can trust. Any other desire of my heart to please anyone else, other than God, is my saying yes to deception and lies. That is not Go’d voice. You are so beautiful. Thank you for how you lean into Him and encourage us to follow.

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  2. super loved this post sheila, you are truly a gifted writer. God does call us to sacrifice and its always been with a heart pure that ive done so in when not appreciate, but after almost ten years ive grow tired and no longer want to continue to sacrifice, I hate that my heart feels this way.

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    • Just this week an old hymn was brought to my mind. “It’s not the first mile that’s so important, it’s the last mile when day is done.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP8rGbhtj8s This is just a home video, but it will give you the idea of the song. And even in the days that we are tired and worn down, God is still there. In my dark days, I read Lamentations 3 over and over, claiming that once again I would rejoice in His faithfulness, new every morning. Hang in there!

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