How I know Jesus is real…

I recently stood face-to-face with a truly pathetic part of myself.  (After such a “compelling” opening line, you must be DYING to read on. But stick with me here. It’s not all bad.)

It all came to a head one week recently when a deafening silence fell across my world.  Everything I did relating to work, friendships, parenting, service at church – every single thing I spent my time doing – was met with complete indifference. Emails I sent received no response. Blogs got zero comments. Assignments I completed and submitted gleaned zero response, not even as much as a, “Got it, thanks.” If I followed up with a phone call, it wasn’t answered or returned.  We are not talking about a couple of instances, we are talking about what seemed at the time to be a worldwide conspiracy to make sure Emily gets zero feedback on anything. AT ALL.

Now you need to know that the sane part of me explained away this entire conspiracy theory…

“People are so busy right now, they don’t have time to worry about giving me feedback on this or that thing I did.”

“The office is crazy this time of year, so I’m sure they would call back if they could.”

“Kids are kids…they aren’t thinking about all the time and effort that went into meeting their needs today.”

Regardless of how loudly my sanity tried to reason with the paranoia, I was disheartened. I couldn’t help but conclude that if I wasn’t getting good feedback, that must mean I’m not that great.  And something terrible must be around the corner for me since I’m just not good enough to glean any morsel of positivity from anywhere.  I felt an ominous weight on my chest.

It was painful. And I was pitiful.

After processing all this, the realization hit… I was doubting my worth in my job, in friendships, in parenting, in future endeavors, and even as a believer, because I was not receiving enough approval to sustain my needy heart.

My reason for writing this raw reflection is certainly not because I am in any way proud of this fact. Quite the contrary.  This realization began some deep and painful conversations with God, and with my husband (who has the patience of Job when I am processing things like this), about just how many daily decisions are made by my approval issues rather than by His Spirit.

Somehow, as I have ventured through forty-one years of life with the noble desire to be an exemplary person (for Christ’s glory, I’ve told myself),  the foundational beliefs I developed about Jesus somehow got all entangled in mindsets that have nothing to do with Him.

This has been an earth-shattering realization, my friends… Keeping other people happy actually has no bearing on how much He loves me or values me?!  What?!  This is a truth I have heard a thousand times, but somehow my heart couldn’t really grasp it.

I’ve been quiet on the blog front, because I keep weighing my motives. I ask myself before posting anything:

“Am I writing this so other people will think I’m better than I really am?”

“Am I blogging so I can get an approval ‘fix’?”

Or even, “How self-indulgent is this whole blogging thing… does it do anything more than feed my worst self?!”

I still don’t have those answers.  But I am convinced that He is trying to impress on me (and maybe I’m not the only one) that no one is okay just because someone else thinks we are okay.  And, for that matter, we are not terrible because someone else thinks we’re terrible.  We are walking around this massive planet for many, many important reasons other than gleaning attention or approval from other broken, human, flawed individuals like ourselves.  Through our honest prayers, we can accomplish so much more than we ever could by some dog and pony show “for the people.”

This fresh realization of my ongoing struggle with approval addition has brought with it a wonderful reminder that our Creator will never make us feel belittled and forgotten. (Most of us need no help feeling that way on our own.)  As I’ve admitted this area of weakness to myself, and to Him, and now to you, there has come a new freedom to revel in His unchanging love. As He has revealed Truth to the very core of my being – painful truth, I’ll admit – the pain that has come with this revelation is not an empty, panicky pain like that of needing an approval fix. It is a reminder that He sees me as I am, and desires healing in this area even more than I want it myself.

Jesus loves who we are – who we REALLY are.  And His compassion flows all over us when we are willing to admit that we have been running to the wrong Source for fuel.  His grace really is amazing. He covers our need with healing and replaces our insanity with joy, proving so powerfully that He is not merely a figment of our human imagination.  We could not do this for ourselves.

So today, I embrace the relief that comes with not feeling the need to feed off the empty praise of anyone… Today, I simply sit at His feet and rest.

16 thoughts on “How I know Jesus is real…

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  1. A wonderful blog Emily……. You hit the nail right on the head here……. it happens to ALL of us…… THEN we reevaluate and take a fresh look at the ONE opinion that really matters……. THEN…… we saddle up and move on!!!

    🙂 Joe

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  2. Emily…
    For my first Mother’s Day (as a newly married stepmom), my husband bought me a book:

    Joyce Meyers’ Approval Addiction.

    You get my drift 🙂

    I hear you loudly and clearly here. In fact, earlier this year I had a very similar experience. HE does it on purpose, making us squirm, so we will turn to Him.

    Also, not that you asked, but I think you are awesome 🙂

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  3. Um, yeah, you’re the ONLY one, that has never ever happened to me.

    Ever.

    (Except maybe daily, and in all kinds of areas you haven’t even thought of yet!)

    Sometimes I wonder how old I have to get before there isn’t at least some small part of my brain and heart that is basically like the 5 year old in the swimming pool yelling, “WATCH THIS! LOOK AT ME! SEE WHAT I CAN DO?!”

    So unattractive in a woman my age. I mostly manage to keep it hidden from view, but oh yes, it’s in there. The only thing I know to do is just what you did– when I recognize it, I call it what it is and show it to my Father. Then I ask Him to please help me move past that need to be affirmed by anyone but Him. And I thank Him for loving me anyway.

    (And YOU?? Are teh awesome.)

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  4. Soooo, Tori… you’re saying this MIGHT not go away anytime soon? Perfect. 🙂 I’m calling you whenever it happens. Oh wait, I DID call you that week. Remember?? And thank you for talking me off the ledge.

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  5. Thank you. ‘Approval addiction’ – now I have an official name for it! Its a daily battle that I have also been challenged about recently – this blog entry is another nudge for me.

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  6. This is a struggle for me also, but in my case, I don’t have the abilities, or talents that Tori,Joe, you, or others have, so for me, it’s a constant struggle, searching every way I know how,to please, or get approval from anyone. And being single doesn’t help! It’s easy for me to believe in the fact that God is enough, but it’s hard living that belief daily.For all my life, the desire of my heart, was to share my life with someone, someone I could love, adore, and support. A Christian man, that was growing in his relationship with God, as I am. It’s been difficult giving that desire to God, knowing that it might never be in God’s plans for my life, and feeling that a part of me will never be complete, and that I must not be worth anything, or else I would be loved. I have to give that to God daily, or I will seek out approval from others, not in a bad way, but serving others for the wrong reasons, not only to help (which is great), but to be approved that I am worth something to someone, instead of seeing my worth in God’s eyes! Emily, thanks for your blog!

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  7. So good to hear your perspective, Beth…. and your honesty is refreshing and helpful. It’s amazing how the same heart issues play out so differently in different circumstances, It’s equally amazing how Christ meets all of us in such unique and personal ways. You’re right. It’s hard to live out what we know in our hearts. Thanks for your input here.

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  8. For many years I felt the same way, Emily, if not worse, because I am disabled. I felt if I didn’t “measure up” to the people I admired – I didn’t measure up with myself.

    Then I realized, like you said, Jesus loves me/us – and thats ALL that matters. Not the education, the job, the husband, the children – or the lack thereof. He doesn’t judge us by those standards – why should we judge ourselves that way? Or let others’ opinion – approval – matter?

    Yes, I backslide on bad days – more often than I care to admit, but He’s still all the “approvatl rating” I need.

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  9. I never comment here, but now I have to …
    THANK YOU!!!
    I’ve been struggling with this all my life and only recently have I started to learn that it is not about what I do but about who I am. Patheticly late … I’m in my fifties, for crying out loud!

    After a burn out last year I had to drop everything I always did – work, church activities, being president of several boards of directors … it was all gone. And I was of no help to anyone. It felt like I had nothing that defined me anymore. And you know what? I have come to realise that God still loves me. Really! I was worth dying for (as I heard lately)and that really opened my eyes (and my heart).
    It’s still hard sometimes but I’m learning.

    So, thank you for posting this.

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    1. Thanks for commenting. I love hearing from you. It’s amazing how coming to the end of ourselves sort-of pushes us to our best option — which is always at the feet of the One who loves us most! It is so good to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this issue.

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  10. I really enjoyed this blog. You are amazing and I love the honesty. I’m so glad we have a loving God who understands us better than anyone and is always there to help us through this journey called ‘life’. Blessings to you, Emily!

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  11. The distance between my head and heart, on this matter and others, is so wearingly long. Thanks for putting voice to what so many of us feel and for reminding us (me) that “he covers our need with healing.”

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