The Approval Addict

Do you ever struggle with caring too much what other people think? I grew up in a home where I heard often, “Young lady, what will the neighbors think?” Another saying I heard often was, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Now the people saying those things did not mean harm but boy oh boy did it affect me! As we teach on grace and identity, I often will ask my counselee where they got their false identity from. I’ll ask, “What made you feel good about yourself?”  Some grew up getting their identity from their appearance. If they looked good, they felt loved and accepted. Other’s got their identity from their intellect. They did well academically their entire life and they got a lot of praise. Still others may find their identity in their personality. They are always the first invited to a party. Occasionally I have someone in my office that “lost themselves” because they only see themselves as so and so’s wife or so and so’s mother. Another common false identity is found in what they do for a living. What is the problem with all of these false identities? What if you are no longer a wife or a mother? What if you lose your job? What happens when the aging process sets in and you are no longer the prettiest girl in the room?

As I have thought about my life I could not pinpoint a place I got my identity from as I grew up.  Why? Because I was full of so much fear and anxiety I was too afraid to even try anything. I was very inhibited and isolated. God had to point out to me another possibility for arriving at a false identity. My struggle was being consumed with what other people think of me. This struggle cost me a lot of pain over the years. You cannot please everybody all of the time. This belief can develop into an addiction I will call the approval addiction. I also call this flesh pattern, people pleasing flesh. Think about it! If God wants to break us of our false identities so that we can know who we are in Christ; doesn’t it make perfect sense that He would allow the things we depend upon for significance and value to stop working? A lot of my story involves rejection, misunderstandings and being falsely accused. However, anything that helps me identify with Jesus can’t be bad for me!  Jesus can totally relate to how I have felt because He experienced the same thing. “Isn’t he the son of a carpenter?” “He calls himself the Son of God?” Phillippians (2:6-7) tells us that HE made himself of no reputation. Sometimes this experience will be a part of our personal and unique  journey to the cross. As painful as it is, I’m glad God is breaking me from caring too much what other’s think. Of course no one wants to be misunderstood, however, if those misunderstandings make me reject my false identity and embrace further my true identity in Christ, it is worth it. Phillippians (3:10)  also tells us that if we enter into the fellowship of His sufferings we will experience the power of His resurrection life.

You have become one with Jesus in your Spirit.  I Corinthians 6:17  Your Spirit determines your identity; not your behavior, your feelings or your beliefs.  You are 100% holy, righteous, acceptable, loving, forgiving, secure, adequate etc. (Phil. 3:9, I Cor. 1:30, II Peter 1:4) As you allow God to convince you of who you really are; your choices will eventually begin to reflect your true identity.  At the risk of being misunderstood, I am not saying we ever arrive at sinless perfection.  As long as we are in these bodies and in this world we can be deceived to walk contrary to  who we really are.  We can give in to our flesh and walk after it.  BUT we have a faithful Father who will gently bring us back to the truth and show us that the bible is true.  When we walk after the flesh it ALWAYS causes pain, conflict, frustration and death.  Let me end with a great verse.  Romans 8:9 & 10, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.  If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Is God’s stamp of approval enough for you?