Seeking Approval from People Will Never Make Us Happy

whalefishchange

“Are you happy?”

A man who was following his heart asked this of a woman who was success-driven in her career. A woman who was always striving for perfectionistic performance to please her mother, never stopping to think what will make HER happy. (Movie: Stranded in Paradise)

Striving to please. Sound familiar? Do you long for success? Do you think it will make you feel happier or more approved by the people around you?

I sometimes slip into questioning the impact I make as a writer. I start thinking of numbers. Number of followers, likes, or comments. I start needing validation again or approval. I start thinking I’m not a success as a writer if I don’t write a book.

Unmet expectations, some I heap on myself and some pressures from society, make me feel I’m a failure in making a difference in this world. I think I should be making a bigger splash, like some book writers do. I start feeling pressured to write a book. But then I have to ask myself… Is this a guilt thing or a God direction? Am I just afraid writing at my blog does not make enough of a difference? Am I just seeking for approval and validation from people?

In The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, Jeff Gerke shares how his “lifelong addiction to the approval and validation of others was nothing but false thinking.” Jesus freed him to “begin writing – and living – simply for Him.”

I sometimes lose sight of that. Sometimes I think I have recovered from approval addiction, but then it floods in and consumes my thoughts again. Even though I am happy when I write, a discontent stirs in me that I’m not enough of a writer if I don’t write a book. Or my inner critic starts beating me up and telling me I’m not doing enough. I’m not making a big enough splash. But what I should be focusing on is writing and living simply for Jesus.

“Success” is never going to make us happy. And if we want to make a bigger splash in making a difference in this world just for the sake of more pats on the back, we are serving from the wrong motive. What matters is living simply for Jesus in whatever we do.

Seeking approval from people will never make us happy. Their accolades will never be enough to fill us up. What matters is our approval from God, and we have more than enough of that. He not only approves and qualifies us. He even favors us and delights in us. What more do we need?

We don’t have to even be concerned with whether we make a ripple or a splash. Happiness is to follow Jesus no matter what and to ask His Spirit of power to fill us to overflowing with His love, approval, and acceptance. Then automatically, that love will brim over into other people’s lives, and the need for success, performance, and approval from people will be forgotten.

Jesus first, no matter what we do, and we will be happy. No, it won’t always be a rose-petaled road here on earth. There are going to be bumps, potholes, and deep valleys of darkness and pain, but He’ll get us through it, and in the end it will be out-of-this-world, eternal bliss.

“Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God?
Do I seek to please men?
If I were still seeking popularity with men,
I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah).”
Galations 1:10 AMP

Praying we will remember Jesus loves us,
has pre-approved us, and accepts us no matter what!
Signature

 

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

A Soft Gentle Voice

God Cares For All His Creation, Including You

Be-Held-by-Holley-Gerth

Gloom seeped into my mind and my heart. As thick and sticky as quicksand pulling me down into a bottomless black hole. No, God, no! Help! What’s happening? Please don’t let me head down the road of depression again. I feel so stuck. Please help!

Sometimes my illness takes my voice away, and this time it hasn’t returned after nearly six weeks. I felt so discouraged on Monday morning, but I knew this gloom was from deeper within me. Sometimes past memories are triggered from when abusers took my voice away, and I knew this must be one of those times. I have been doing fairly well with processing these triggered emotions, but it wasn’t working that morning. The gloom threatened to swallow me up. I tried to think of God’s promises, but they bounced like ping-pong balls right out of my head and far out of reach of my heart.

Stolen
Christy Willard has graciously allowed me to share this.

I decided to go online to one of (In)courage’s abuse support groups I joined, and the picture someone shared from their art journal touched the hurting heart of the little girl inside of me. I cried and realized I not only need to acknowledge what was stolen from my little girl, but I also need to grieve with her for her losses as I bring her with me to rest in Jesus and His love. In His healing and restoration.

It usually helps me to process triggered emotions when I can identify from where the gloom originates. I reminded myself that Jesus has recovered all our losses on the cross. He has given me a voice that no one – past, present, or future – can ever take away from me. A voice in my soul that sometimes comes out in my writing.

But a deep sadness still weighed me down most of the day and smothered my heart like a wet, heavy blanket as I woke up the next morning. I felt so empty. I knew I needed soul rest.

I recently read a fitting acronym of REST. I have added “and abusers” to it.

Restoration of
Everything
Satan and abusers
Took

One of the ways God gives me REST is to go on a nature walk. It often refreshes my drooping spirit and grounds me again as to who is in control of everything. As I walked along a bike trail next to the river, God whispered, “Open your ears and listen, My child. Open your eyes and see, My child. I take care of My creation and that includes you.”

Soothing sounds reminded me God is still alive. Birds calling, frogs croaking, water gurgling and sometimes rushing, leaves singing a melody of peace as the unseen wind rustled through.

I opened my eyes and soaked in the variety of shades of green and brown throughout the trees and grasses, splashes of other colors mixed in by other plants or flowers. God’s paintbrush. Then I stopped and held my breath. A deer was only a few feet from me in the trees, a rare sight on my walks. Majestically displaying God’s tender loving care.

DSC_0621

And God opened my eyes to more of His creatures. A frog, a dragonfly, ducks and other birds. Even an ant crossing my path.

DSC_0658

DSC_0646

DSC_0663

DSC_0613

With each creature, God said “I am in the ___. I am here, My precious child. Always with you. No matter how rough the journey gets, I will never, ever abandon you.”

God is still with us even when Satan takes advantage of our vulnerabilities. His shouts of lies into our thoughts try to drown out the whispers of God’s love and peace. He robs us of hope, and he tells us all that was stolen from us will never be restored. We are hopelessly dirty, damaged, and desolate for the rest of our lives.

But Truth will always prevail in the end. Jesus triumphed over Satan. God is Almighty and will never let him totally defeat us. No one, not even Satan, can snatch us out of God’s powerful grip of grace.

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”
Romans 16:20 NLT


“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.
No one can snatch them away from Me,
for My Father has given them to Me,
and He is more powerful than anyone else.
No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.”
John 10:28-29 NLT

God is with us always, even when we can’t feel Him. The evidences of His tender loving care are everywhere. He will never leave us or forsake us. Sometimes our hearts may feel so broken and unmendable, but He has promised to heal. And He will in His own time and way. He has promised to restore whatever is stolen from us, and He will layer by layer, digging ever deeper and exposing all our locked away hurts to His healing love. The same God who resurrected dry bones and breathed His Spirit of life into them can completely restore what was stolen from us. And He will, because He cares so deeply.

signature3


Joining Up With:

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Whitespace Writing Prompt:
Enjoy spending time in quietness.
Share what you did and what you discovered.
Share a whitespace moment.

When We Hide Our Stories, We Hide Who God Created Us to Be

Brightness-by-Holley-Gerth-300x300

 

I was standing at the kitchen counter mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies when I heard it:

“Well, everybody’s got a story to tell
And everybody’s got a wound to be healed.”

I stopped, stood by the radio, and sobbed. This song – “Need You Now” by Plumb – always touches a deep place in my heart. A wounded place. A place I don’t like to open because it hurts too much. A place I often protect because I’m afraid I won’t be believed, I’ll be hurt again, or my thoughts don’t matter.

I don’t know why I cringe in fear whenever I tell my story. Fear of letting out my innermost heart. Perhaps it’s because I’m afraid I’ll be looked at differently. Sometimes I hear these voices of those who say, “Get over it already. The past is past” or “Why do you have to talk about it? Rehashing the pain just makes you feel worse.” And sometimes I do feel more vulnerable and depressed afterward. But you know what? Those are the times when eventually, as I cry out my need to God, I am taught the deepest lessons of His powerful grace.

Not everyone understands that it’s my past story that has molded my today’s story. Silence except to a select few just doesn’t work for me anymore. It’s time for me to take the leap to speaking out more and trusting God will give strength. If anyone hurts me with words or with silence, God will make me stronger through it. God is making it more impossible for me to keep silent with a smile pasted on my face while inwardly my heart is crying every. single. word. of this song:

“I want to believe there’s beauty here
‘Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on
I can’t let go, I can’t move on
I want to believe there’s meaning here

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Standing on a road I didn’t plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I’m trying to hear that still small voice
I’m trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Though I walk,
Though I walk through the shadows
And I, I am so afraid
Please stay, please stay right beside me
With every single step I take

How many times have you heard me cry out?
And how many times have you given me strength?

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

I need you now
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.
I need you now
I need you now.”

(By Plumb)

pennyparkerbutterfly2

What is my story today?
It’s this desperate need.
I can’t go one. single. step.
Without Jesus and His love,
Because without Him
I gasp for air
And I cannot live on.

When some days
My heart fills with fear
And can’t find peace,
I am so, so weary
Of myself,
Of my failure to rise above
Troubles in my life,
When memory triggers
Cripple my soul,
When illness and fatigue
Shatter plans,
When depression
Sucks me into darkness.

But still…
I will keep trying to hear
His still small voice
Above all the noise.
I will desperately seek
The presence of my Jesus,
My Savior and My Friend
So Faithful and True.
I will cling to His hand
And let Him lead me
No matter what happens,
Because without Him
I cannot breathe.

I will trust Him
And His purposes for me.
He has called me
To proclaim
Hope for the broken,
Healing for the wounded,
Freedom for the captives.
Perhaps He can use me more
As a broken soul.

I will remember
The times of joy,
No matter how fleeting.
I will remember
The precious blessings
He has yet given me.
And when the sad times come,
I will remember
My God still brings
Beauty out of ashes
And He never grows weary
Of His beloved
Needing Him.

pennyparkerdivider

It’s always been easier to write than to speak my true feelings, but often I struggle to start a post. I know insecurity remains a giant roadblock. I have to force myself to write even when I’m downhearted, leaning into Jesus Who alone is my strength. But I believe there are some in cyberspace who feel alone and misunderstood, and my passion is to reach them. If you are reading this, know you are not alone. I’m here because I care so deeply about you. Above all, Jesus loves you so, so much. He understands you even when no one else does. He mingles His tears with yours.

What is your story? God cares, and so do I. Your story matters. As I open up myself more to others, I am learning it is healing to tell our stories because then we are actually being who we really are. When we hide our stories, we hide who we’re created to be. When we tell our stories, we are telling significant parts of HIStory – God’s Greater Story. So tell your story, my friend.

signature3
Joining Up With


Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

A Soft Gentle Voice
Faith Barista’s Writing Prompt:
Your Story

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com