I try my hardest to shed light on what is real in every blog post I write…well, this nugget of truth just might come as a huge surprise to many… but this confession is necessarry for living my truth with integrity, which is so important on my journey of following a God led path…
An interesting post flashed across my computer screen today. Alongside the post was the picture of a woman in a bikini with a perfectly sculpted physique on stage for a bodybuilding competition. The author wrote, “I can’t understand how a woman could let herself go after having children. I stay fit and healthy so that I can play sports with my children one day. I choose to be healthy to set a good example for my children.” I thought about what she said and, must say, my flawed human heart saw something completely opposite of what this post communicated. My first thoughts were, “Is she seriously trying to convince me she is healthy??? She is prancing around on Facebook in a bikini and heels, which she, obviously, does on stage in front of judges to win their approval….and is clearly comparing and criticizing other women. Yet, she is trying to be a good role model to her children?? Is that really society’s image of a healthy woman?????”
Yes, I know. A christian woman should not be chastising or judging anyone for anything. I am not the judge of this world, God is, but bare with me here, my point will become clear…
I watched an interview with Collette Nelson from 2010 by Bryan Gumball on YouTube. In her interview, Collette says, “You’re the most unhealthy the day of a show. You’re dehydrated. You’ve eaten limited food. You’re taking some type of diuretic, whether it be natural or not. That day of the show, I’ve gotta tell you, you look like perfection, but inside you’re just, you’re barely hangin’ on.”
In other words, the day she needs the most approval in in her career, she is at her peak level of unhealthy. Let that sink in and resonate.
The aforementioned post brought to mind a few women who have shared their lack of enthusiasm for clothes shopping with me, lately, in part due to weight gain. I, myself, am struggling with this because I am so busy I have no time to dedicate to my health. Then I realized, this woman and myself aren’t that much different. She may be using her health and appearances as a scapegoat to win the approval of others, while I am doing the polar opposite with the same end goal in mind.
Ladies think about this… could we, actually, be throwing our health away because we are carrying the work load of 3 full time jobs, getting our children into every sport possible, hosting pinterest worthy birthday parties, building massive homes that we don’t actually need, and killing ourselves to make our households appear perfect… to win the approval of people who are doing the exact same thing to win ours? Are we seriously letting ourselves go physically, emotionally, mentally, and morally because we are chasing something far beyond our reach??
After spending my day thinking of all the ways I seek approval from others, I decided to research the word approval back to its origins to try to find out what it is, exactly, that we are all desperately seeking. The word approve comes from the Latin word approbare. If you take the first two letters off that word and break it down, you get probare, which means to esteem as good. What I find compelling, is that when I dug deeper into the word good, to see exactly what the human definition of good was, I noticed something astonishing. The Old English origin of the word good…. gõd. Does this word look familiar to anyone else?? We are not hungry for human approval, ladies. We are starving for GOD!
Now, I don’t know about you, but I was a little mind blown at that point… which leads me to my mighty nugget of truth…
3 years ago I decided to open a business… for the wrong reasons. I’m pretty decent at what I do… but truth is, I always felt I could do better for myself. I have a bigger passion for the relationships that I get to build as a result of my career than I ever did the actual job. At the time I openned my busiess, I was actually trying to win the approval of another person in hopes that some day he would see that I was good enough to invest his life in. I needed his approval to validate my worth.
When I was 26 years old, I quit the industry that I was in to go back to college and pursue what my heart truly desired. I was doing great. I was on the dean’s list and in honor’s classes. However, my living arrangements weren’t the best and I was having a difficult time passing Algebra (yuck!) Instead of sticking it out and pushing through, I chose to take the quick and easy route to further my education in the industry I was trying to leave, in hopes to quickly land a more stable job that would be a better fit than what I was doing previously. To make a long story short, it wasn’t a successful plan , but it got me out of my living situation, away from all of the partying, and utimately lead me to the place I needed to be to heal. So, I have no regrets there.
However, in the meantime, I met Jacques. I instantly fell in love with him because he was the most responsible person I had ever met. It was the first time I felt safe. Unbenounced to me, I was in the middle of a life transition that I was completely unaware of at the time and I needed his support in ways that he was incapable of giving at the time.
Jacques was not used to sharing his life with anyone. He is seriously an incredible guy, but when I first met him, he knew nothing about being a life partner. So, I did what most broken, unhealthy women do. I did everything I could to prove to him that I was worth investing his life in. I opened a business to earn the approval of the man that I love. The good part of the story is that the business succeeded. The sad part of the story is that it didn’t do for my relationship, or my life for that matter, what I had hoped. I fully understand why, now. God’s approval wasn’t a priority in my life at the time. I was putting man’s approval ahead of my Fathers. Nothing will work according to any other plan but His.
I attempted to use worldly resources to fix what only God could. And what did this get me? A business that has grown faster than I can keep up and heartbreaking lessons about the society I live in. I’ve learned that in an ego focused world, no matter how much you love people, we live in a disposable society. Which means, regardless of what these relationships mean to you, you will always be disposable in a world where the next best is right around the corner. We are starving for the approval of people which means a piece of us dies each time we are rejected. God doesn’t reject us. His grace accepts us right where we are. When human rejection hurts us, God’s love rescues us.
Ladies, what I am trying to tell you is that everything we seek from outside sources can only be found in God. We want others approval because we believe their approval proves that we are good… when God has already claimed that goodness over us!!
Genisis 1:31 tells us that “God looked over all he had made and saw that it was very good.” Now, I dont know if you are familiar with this verse, but before God made man, he made the sun earth moon and stars. When he looked over those things, he saw that they were good. Once he added man to the equation, he saw that it all was very good. You see, before we understood the concept of approval, God had already set us apart from all that He created.
What I have learned from this past year is that no amount of human approval will offer our lives the peace that we so desperately need. Our children cannot quince that hunger. Our husbands are not capable of approving of us just as much as our bosses, co workers, or clients. I hate to breaks it to you, we are not capable of fulfilling those needs for other people as well. We are just to love and serve like Jesus and allow God to fill us with his peace and approval. I don’t know about you, but divine approval sounds so much more appealing than earthly approval.
To the ultra fit bikini wearing Facebook lady:
God bless you and your incredible confidence. I pray you find the peace you need and the approval you seek. You are worthy, you are valued, and you are loved beyond measure. You had the stamp of God’s approval before you were even born.
If you would like to start seeking God’s approval instead of earthly approval there are steps you must take. Begin by, first, acknowledging approval seeking behaviors. Pray and ask God for the wisdom and courage to eliminate them.
Next, evaluate the earthly things in your life that tempt you to seek the approval of others. Again, pray for the wisdom to minimize these temptations.
Most importantly, spend more time in your Bible. Try to learn all that you can about the foundation in which we were created. Only God can feed our human desire for approval. He approved of us that day he created us. There’s no performance based standard that we need to meet in order to earn that. It has already been given.
You, my friend, are good. You are God approved.
If you are feeling beat up and starving for the approval of the world say this prayer with me today:
Dear Heavenly Father
I come to you today and lay my worries at your feet. I ask for the wisdom to overcome my need for outside approval. Your approval is sufficient for me Lord. Gift me with your mercy while I eliminate the temptations of approval seeking behaviors in my life. I ask that you walk with me on this journey and protect everyone that my choices will effect. Lay your hands on the lives of my friends and my loved ones and grant us peace for our future.
In Gods name I pray, amen.
Sweet child, be free.