So I think over the last year or so I’ve been writing on this blog I’ve chatted a hella lot (ha, been listening to Taylor Swift this evening, totally inspired the ‘hella’ and actually this post, but anyway) about approval and self image, mainly because God’s really put it on my heart and I have an all too real and personal experience with this whole self-image and the need to be loved and liked by others. What I’m going to write tonight isn’t something I’m massively good at doing, if anything, like most things, I’m pretty crummy at it and writing it on here is just a way for me to say that actually, if you’re struggling with this too? So am I.
I spend a lot of my time with beautiful people. Beautiful people who influence me and who encourage me and challenge me in my day to day. But, somewhere along the way, I can forget that they love me for who I am and they don’t expect me to change or to alter myself. I’ve been pretty lucky with the circle of people I have (heck, MASSIVELY lucky… or was it good old God sticking his ore in again? Probably the latter – cheers, Jesus), and they just love me. They’re a fairly forgiving and persistent bunch and I’m so thankful for that. Yet in the back of my mind, whether I’ve known them a lifetime or just a few months, I still insist on meeting and seeking their approval. I need to be liked by these people, even if they do make the effort to meet me or text me or whatever. I need to be wanted and I need to be needed by these lovely folk despite the fact that they show me time and time again through their actions that they do just that.
I seriously struggle with the words of good old Paul up there in Galatians. I have a bit of confusion and a bit of a challenged heart and mind thing going on right now. See, the truth is, most of the time I’m not seeking God’s approval, mainly because I feel like I need the more immediate and ‘more important’ approval and affirmation of those around me, but also because, well, we’re a forgiven people right? We’re justified and sanctified and adopted into God’s family already, right? (Guess the theology student) – so why do I need to be seeking His approval anyway?!
Before I say anything else, the most important part of all this is that it’s true – we are a redeemed and forgiven people. We are. Cannot be changed or altered or taken away. It’s final and “it is finished”, to quote the J-man Himself. However, I also have a few things to say. See, the premise of being a Christian from what I can gather is that we know how rubbish we are, how we’ve messed up and got it wrong and we come into contact with this amazing and holy God, and we just have to say yes to that amazing grace he offers because we see that His way is better than our way. Yeah, we’re gonna get it wrong, and yeah we’re not always gonna do what’s right – but we recognise that and Jesus loves us anyway. So perhaps it’s not about seeking God’s approval as such, we’ve already got that, but it’s about remembering that and living in a way that honors that. Does that make sense? (I’m hoping you’re all nodding right now and thumbs-upping at the screen!)
I think I kinda got the first bit of that verse up top sorted. The one above this lovely sentence is from Matthew 16:24, and I think it totally stands alongside the words of Paulie up there. If we seek the approval of others, we are no longer Christ’s servants. Challenging words, huh? I guess what I think Paul is trying to say (heretic-seekers come at me) is that we should be focused on the bigger and brighter and more beautiful prize. Heck, do you even recognise what Jesus did on that cross for you?! He WIPED AWAY all of the wrongs and the darkness and sadness from your life so that you may have a relationship with the God who created you, loved you, and has restored you. You are worth so much more than all this, and I truly and completely believe that, regardless of where you’re at with all of this. I think picking up that cross and saying, hey Jesus, I struggle to see You in all of this because I’m so worried about what these other people think of me or what I’m doing, that’s totally okay. In fact, better than okay. Jesus doesn’t want fakers, he doesn’t want piety or for you to hide. He wants YOU. As YOU are.
Regardless of whether you’ve been told all of your life that you’re not good enough, or recently you’be started to wonder what others think of you, it can all be laid at the foot of the cross and you can start again. You were handmade – homemade, and you are loved. Fearfully and wonderfully made, remember? You’re so much better than what the world thinks, what all of that negativity shouts over you and does to you that makes you feel crummy. When the media tells you you’re too fat or too thin or too this or that, too dark or too fair. WHO CARES, the Living and Holy God made YOU and YOU are more than good enough.
This whole post was inspired by the rather lovely Taylor Swift. She’s writing about ignoring all of that negativity and rubbish people say about her; she knows who she is and she knows what’s going on – and the important people in her life who know her and love her know the truth about her too, and I think this is a really powerful song. So good on you, Taylor. You go, girl. But what about when you don’t know yourself and you’re not sure anyone else understands you? Come to the guy who does. He knows you, He did make you after all. So shake it off, and put on the love instead.
Peace and blessings x