“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1John 5:21
Even the word makes me happy. The receiving of it produces in me a high that modesty does not allow expression of.
Approval is as satisfying when received privately as publicly. It is not the attention that draws. Just the validation that someone views Me as worthwhile and important.
I have devoted parents and had devoted grandparents. I have the blessing of gracious friends and family. By most worldly standards, I have been successful.
I have received in roses, awards, words of affirmation and adoring love: Approval.
Healthy and encouraging.
It is in my life as a gift.
But through the years, I fashioned it into a savior.
And I set it above everything else.
Achieving the esteem of my family and peers became an “art” and passion that I reveled in and gained applause for.
I’m not sure the exact moment this seemingly innocuous issue grew fangs and poisonous tentacles.
But, painfully, I began to realize that the quest for approval often ended in disappointment. Other’s disappointment in me. My disappointment in others.
Approval, as a savior, wasn’t so very successful. In fact, instead of saving, the focused quest was defeating me. Over and over again.
It astounds me that such a painful and barbed life mate has remained my adoring pursuit for so very long.
Despite the pain and ineffectual efforts, I continue to tuck the idol away and hallow it in my heart. I allow it sole influence in decision-making and sole judgment on my life choices.
“What does everyone else think?”
Circumstance and life choices inevitably remove the approval of others from my grasp. In painful and heart wrenching developments, I realize that the approval I perceived in relationships was only a fleeting facade. And this breaks me every time. The apparent failure of my well-honed ability to gain (earn) the respect of others is the wound that festers and penetrates my soul. I cannot control what is happening. I am judged.
And my loss closet is opened.
Every moment of just or unjust negative treatment in my life parades in my mind. The precious Word of God surrounds it “Love keeps no record of wrongs…” and I struggle to give His Word sole ownership of my attention.
But the parade marches continual with a drum cadence I do not choose to ignore.
In the defeat of the reminiscing, I cry out to God. (He’s still there)
I repent and confess my self-centeredness. I cry and I mourn the brokenness.
I focus again, on Christ.
I feel the brush of a scar as His hand strokes my cheek and then lifts my chin setting my gaze on His face. To see His eyes. To read His heart. The Heart of God.
This is happening despite me.
Oh, dear friends, how it heals. And hurts.
I have the opportunity, through the wounds of my broken state to have no strength in myself left to even observe the parade of the past. No strength to earn approval back.
The cadence of my parade of loss becomes an annoyance and I crawl into the cocoon of His stillness and peace. I confess and shelter in His Wings.
And the Light shines.
The temptation to focus on other’s thoughts and opinions first, is silenced by the bold and honest voice of a Father Who Knows All Things.
He never compromises the Integrity of His Being to coddle or cajole me. He authentically loves, purifies, illuminates and adores.
I am overwhelmed at how amazing it feels. His Love.
How readily it pours out into broken me. How I am not working or doing or perceiving or knowing. I am just resting. And the love pours excessively into every crack, fissure and open space.
His voice is so much clearer. His Way is bright in front of me. I do not feel sure of the next steps and I must repeatedly confess my worry and anxiety to traverse this road less traveled.
The loud voices are laughing and celebrating and persuading on the other road. The road that I am familiar with. Where approval and accolades and the pleasing of others is an acceptable and expected guiding force. As I turn my head ever so slightly to the recognizable sounds I feel the emptiness expanding. The confusion setting in. The ultimate defeat encroaching.
There is another way.
And I choose.
To hear Only His Voice.
Deliberate and intentional.
And yet, falling short.
I call out to His Spirit, to remind and to teach. (John 14:26) And I step.
I step onto a narrow path, often illuminated one path-stone at a time. And I find there.
Everything. This unknown and unrehearsed walk is the Life I have longed for.
Abundant, thriving Life.
I dance, unencumbered by the pretense that I am in control.
I celebrate, passionate and undignified.
The Light around me warms me as I am held in the knowing gaze of cherished Truth.
My Lord and My God!
He, who delights in me. And fully knows me.
All these years of comprehending Your presence. And yet choosing my own, hard-to-earn self-saving way.
Now, wholly consumed by my One and Only Savior. Truly free.
It’s about time.
"And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us...." I John 4:14-16a