Did you see this subheading and think, oh boy ́? This is such a huge stumbling block for me. The approval of others weights much heavier on me than a to-do list or performing things perfectly. I can remember so many times that the second someone would want me to do something, I’d end up saying yes, even if I didn’t really want to because I didn’t want them to feel disappointed and especially not disappointed with me.
Sometimes, I’d end up so upset with myself because I’d go against my values just to make someone not upset with me, and I’d convince myself that I was being a good Christian by making everyone else happy. Truth is living for an audience of One and having more fear of God than anyone else is how our lives should be conducted. It’s putting that truth into real life and applying it that can gets difficult.
I remember being terrified of people hating me, thinking and talking bad about me, and afraid I’d be alone forever. (not true on any level, but my broken heart and lack of relationship with God made me believe the lie) Every time I’d have a minor disagreement, I’d be crushed and try to beg them to forgive me. (sadly, this still happens more often than I’d like)
I look back and see that I was trying to control other people’s emotions and that every action and reaction that I saw from someone else was 100% my responsibility and my fault. This came from a genuine desire to bring joy to people and build them up. It was also out of a place of pain and internal lack of love. I was having such a hard time with myself and my thoughts toward myself that I automatically projected that on to other.
We are what we think about. If our internal dialog is toxic our actions and reactions are
going to be as well. To have a healthier view of the approval of others we must fist acknowledge our own pains and how we carry them out in the open all day. The second thing we need to realize is that other people do that same thing. Most of the battles we face with others aren’t all our fault (well, unless you are mean, then it is your fault) but I believe that everyone genuinely wants to make people happy, not upset.
The thing that bothers me the most from this past consuming desire to make everyone happy and carry everyone’s happiness on my shoulders is that I’d grovel, shame, and hate m\self for the simplest mistakes I’d make, accidental ones and I’d treat it like the end of the world. I never showed myself any grace and I’d end up doing whatever someone wanted me to do just to make them happy with me again. Fear, anxiety, and worry leads to the desire to control so that we feel secure in some area of life and restore balance. For me, because my thought life toward myself was so toxic, I needed everything else to be non-toxic because otherwise anxiety was going to eat me
Each time we allow fear, anxiety and worry to have control we become blinded, burdened and begin to grasp for control of something, usually to our detriment. Maybe fear and worry don’t hold onto you like this, but it holds onto you in some fashion. Are you aware of how? Are you aware of your disconnect with God when you live in fear? Do you shame yourself? Become resentful toward others? Set up walls or barriers? Our bodies are literally unable to problem solve when we are consumed by large amounts of stress hormones, so our insecurities lead the way, causing us to make foolish choices on a variety of different levels. Life lead by fear and anxiety increases our brokenness and puts a block between you and God, because He says to not be anxious for anything, we are disobeying in the mist of our fear.
Of course, there are times that fear is a good thing being chased by a bear fear releases the hormones to help us in situations like that. Or when we are being attacked physically or driving through a rough place in town But letting fear lead areas of our life that we should be allowing God to have is leading to an increase of our already broken and lost heart, and our health suffers because we lose focus of our identity.
Scripture says that we have not been given the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) When we let the spirit of fear be what controls us – our sound mind is nowhere to be found.
In 2 Timothy the Spirit of Power we have is from the Holy Spirit who lives within us, the Love we have is God’s love and acceptance of us, and the sound-mind is in our identity and trust in the work that Jesus did on the cross, our salvation and ability to be transformed every single day into His likeness.
I fall for the distraction of gaining the approval of others and it impacts my ability to move in step with the Holy Spirit in public. For me, praying out loud in front of others has been my biggest eye opener to how much I still think about approval. When I pray in private my prayers feel connected with God, when I pray in public, I don’t even feel like I’m talking to Him because I’m so focused on not saying the wrong ́ thing. I Keep finding ways to practice this because I want, more than anything, to live for HIM and not for man. So, I strive to keep my focus on Jesus and live for an audience of one, not for an audience/approval of many.
One of the most freeing things that I’ve learned is that most of the time that we have struggles with others or when they respond unloving toward us, it’s more because of pain and hurt they carry, not really something we’ve done other than bumping into an emotional scab we didn’t know was there. So, if you’re doing your best to remain in peace with others, and yet someone responds negatively to you, become curious, not defensive. It means there is a pain they are struggling with and it’s an opportunity love and create relationship. (I find the most difficult with my husband, but we give each other a chance to practice every day) We all carry around so much pain and so we are automatically offended vs. living curious and compassionate to the stories of others. I’m sure you’ve heard, “you only know half the story,” or “you don’t know the journey I’ve faced”… This is 100% true, but we live like we know the whole story and fall under defensiveness and judgement. We need to rise above that as daughters of God, become curious of the pains carried by others, make a choice to live un-offendable by anchoring your identity deeply in Christ!! And, if someone doesn’t like you, that’s really none of your business anyway, as author Brene Brown says.
Relationships – A distraction and a blessing
Relationships are the foundation of life and what we are created for, however if we’re not careful our family, friends, spouses, kids can become our god and distract us from our mission. Its so comfortable to be with and around people that treat us good and feels perfect, but we’re called to make disciples. Sure, we can do that within our family and friend groups, but if they keep us from pursing God’s mission further than our close group, they are a distraction.
There is also a truth in who we spend time with and how people shape people. If we spend our time in a toxic environment, we can be crushing our mission because our hearts are too burdened to reach out. If we focus so much on the opinions of others that we lose site of God’s purpose and creation of us, we end up allowing those relationships to become distractions too.
It’s so important we have people, but our number one focus should always always always be God. From there we have the endurance to run the race set before us. We have the courage to build and live on the God’s foundation without building a false one anchored in the opinions of this world and can live set apart for God.