She was so hungry for approval that some people called her a Klingon.
She would cling on to your every word and do just about anything for you. She wanted to know that she had worth, value and that she was good.
Then there was this guy who read the Bible wanting desperately to make sure he was in the right with God. He wanted to know that he mattered, that others liked him. That he had an approval tick from God.
They both believed that if they were “good,” then they would be loved, get their needs met, and live a problem-free life. That God and others would smile on them, treat them well, and everything in life would go well.
Underneath this facade of supposed ‘goodness’ was a lot of anxiety.
People pleasing was mirrored in their deepest beliefs about what God was like. There was an unwritten contract of ‘If I do what’s right then God will do … for me.’
If people give you your sense of self-worth,
then people can also take it away.
This is the ‘pleaser’s’ personal paranoia.
Be good, be good.
You know you do it too, don’t you?
You do good things in the hope that others will look favourably on you. When Mum and Dad said ‘Be a good girl/boy and eat your dinner’ you interpreted that their approval of you was determined by your ‘goodness’.
[pullquote]”Don’t you be a bad boy Johnny. Don’t you slip up or play the fool”. “Oh no Ma, Oh no Da, I’ll be your golden boy. I will obey ev’ry golden rule.”
Get told by the teacher, Not to day-dream. Told by my mother: Be good Be good … Men at Work[/pullquote]
Bring that encoding into a church setting, and you’re all set up for performance based faith. Pastor, elders, and others say this is how to live a Christian life. Then you compare yourself to them and come to the obvious conclusion – ‘I’m not a very good Christian’, or I’m not very spiritual.’
Our subconscious child’s mind confirms that knowing God is all about performance. So we strive and sweat out beads of perfectionism.
However, wouldn’t be great if someone else could do the whole perfect thing for you?
Like you hand the problem over to them and say ‘Here it is, I keep failing to live a perfect life, and with the God version I hold onto, I am doomed’.
God’s solution to the perfectionist problem
God had a plan to sort out this mess. It’s pretty simple but deeply impacting to your mental health if you can grab hold of it.
Jesus lived a perfect life on your behalf. You don’t have to try and be perfect anymore. It would be kind of insulting to Jesus if you tried. It’s like you saying ‘I don’t need you for that Jesus, I can do this on my own.’
Me, well I’ll take all the help I can get and be incredibly thankful for it. There are no more brownie points left to earn. Jesus got them all.
One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong;
One man said yes to God and put many in the right. Romans 5:19
With the heavy weight of approval seeking off my back I am invited into an enveloping awareness of God.
The God news.
A new robe is offered to you with an invitation to dance.
A multicoloured robe of love and approval is for you to wear. You choose to wear it or not, but it is enticingly beautiful. You feel the texture, observe the custom made design and then notice it’s in the right colour combinations that delight you. Only God could create this piece of wearable art.
Then there is an invitation to dance. The music is playing, and you are welcomed to celebrate and live in thankfulness. Opening to you is the opportunity to heal all those years of living where you sought to do it right. Thankfulness changes the course of your river of thoughts.
Two simple exercises you may like to try.
- For a whole day simply say to yourself ‘I am approved of by God’
- Recite this verse from Psalms 118.
With the Lord on my side I do not fear [the whims of others approval].
What can man do to me? Psalm 118:6
Quotes to Consider
- Paul made it very clear in Romans and Galatians that obeying commandments will not lead you to the experience of God. And yet I would bet 85 percent of Christians still think they’re going to come to God by doing it right. There’s no evidence that this works. In fact, quite the contrary. This preoccupation with being right and doing it right usually creates—forgive me for being so blunt—anal-retentive personalities. They’re usually judgmental, preoccupied with themselves, and very often not in love with God, in love with life, or in love with their fellow humans. Because you can obey commandments without being in the wildest wave alive. Ego can do that, self can do that, but God alone can bring us into this flow of Trinity. Richard Rohr Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation
- We do not place ourselves in Him by virtue of our willpower, commitment, or exemplary behaviour. Rather, we discover that we are already ‘in Him’ when we realise that what he did at Calvary, He did for us, or more accurately, as us, and thus we may “accept Christ” as our true self – our true identity, as St Paul also discovered. So it is in accepting Christ, that we are then enabled to accept ourselves. David J Riddell
- His 100% pass is ours to rest on / accept / appropriate. In other words, there are no more ‘brownie points’ left for you to earn, ‘cos Jesus has got the lot, on your behalf. Is this real for you yet, or are you still focused on others opinions of you, or yourself and your own performance? Remember Paul’s words; “Indeed I do not even judge myself, but leave all that to Him…” (1 Cor. 4:3). Result; a joyful end to unhealthy introspection, idealism, perfectionism, guilty condemnation, spiritual ‘drivenness’ and inadequacy – fear of failure. David J Riddell
- Recovery from the Nice Guy Syndrome isn’t about going from one extreme to another. The process of breaking free from ineffective Nice Guy patterns doesn’t involve becoming “not nice.” Rather, it means becoming “integrated.” Being integrated means being able to accept all aspects of one’s self. Robert Glover No More Mr Nice Guy
Questions to answer and leave a comment below or anonymously
- Is always seeking others approval a form of idolatry? Have you made their approval more important than Gods? Why?
- When a new product rolls off the production line, it gets a stamp of approval. A certification that this is the real deal. What would it be like for you if every day you woke up and found a certificate of approval lying next to you?
- What childhood messages do you still carry that need to be reexamined for their worth? Would a new multicoloured custom-made cloak fit you better?
Image: Annie Spratt
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