Super excited to have a guest post from a phenomenal blogger, Alisha Illian and her post, “I Want You to Like Me!” You may not instantly recognize her name, but you’ve likely read her review of Rachel Hollis’ book, “Girl, Wash Your Face.” Today, she writes for Compared to Who? about approval. I broke up with my approval idol last summer (Okay, I thought I had already conquered this one, but apparently, I still had work to do!). If approval is something you find yourself seeking too much of, I hope you’ll read and share this!
Ask me to grab a coffee, fold your clothes, take out the trash or watch your kids…no problem. Well, I may be exaggerating a bit. Let’s not stretch the kid thing.
The problem is that I don’t like to disappoint anyone. Ever. I simply don’t want to let people down. I care too much about what people think about my help, assistance and input.
I sweat and fret when I feel like conversations are awkward, people get distracted or I don’t get an immediate text response.
There are about a million exhausting, pin-ball thoughts that go through my mind in these moments— do they think I’m crazy? Boring? Did I come on too strong? Not strong enough? Did I ask the right questions? Do I have spinach in my teeth or a dried booger in my nose? Am I coming across as lame, arrogant or insane? By the way, did I leave the coffee maker on?
But God helped me discover something significant and cathartic in the midst of this frazzled madness.
I’m actually not a people pleaser—I’m an approval seeker.
My people-pleasing is just a symptom. My real problem is that I’m constantly striving to earn the approval of those around me. The distinction is monumental, like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. And it is a game changer in the way I love those in my life.
I want you to like me. I want you to think I’m pretty great. I want you to let me in and be my friend. I want to belong and be loved. Simply stated, I want your approval.
Unfortunately approval-seeking goes hand-in-hand with comparison. And Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 10:12 that, “When they compare themselves to themselves and measure themselves by themselves, they are not wise.”
Unlike the narrow path to God, the path to self-destruction is wide and easy to find. It starts with needing the approval of others. It then morphs into comparing what we have to what they have, which often leads to anxiety, depression and flat-out soul exhaustion. This kicks off a vicious reinforcing cycle of approval, comparison, and anxiety that is hard to escape. The reason it is hard to escape is because we are constantly focused on us, not on God.
It is ultimately a heart problem. And it’s toxic. It will continue to get worse unless we are reminded that our true identity is in Christ alone.
If you hear nothing else in this entire blog hear this—I know for a fact that my worth is immeasurable in Jesus. I know that He died for me, I am a daughter of the king and I am unconditionally loved. I don’t need the applause of man. I don’t need success. I don’t need recognition. I don’t need to be invited to the party or included in the group. I don’t need others to ask my advice, respond to my messages or like my posts.
The affirmation of other people will never satisfy the longing of my soul, because my soul was made to be approved and belong to Jesus.
Ive heard it a thousand times. I know it.
But I don’t always believe it. My heart struggles to believe what my mind understands. Something gets lost between my pee-brain and anxious heart. I don’t embrace my identity, therefore, it doesn’t inform my actions.
True Christ-followers know that the real battle is against sin and the evil one. Sin is the enemy of our soul. And the evil one wants nothing more than to distract, deceive and lie so that we begin to rely on ourselves. The minute our world starts revolving around us—our strengths, our knowledge, our insights, our gifting and our abilities—is the moment that we begin to fall apart.
So what should we do?
“Fix your eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)
If you’ve ever struggled with comparison, then you’ve probably heard this overplayed, cultural advice—STOP LOOKING OUT. Stop looking over at that other girl. Stop caring about what other people do or their situations. START LOOKING IN. Pay attention to yourself. Know that you are enough. And worthy. And amazing.
You know what I say to that?
Blah blah blah.
The right Biblical advice is—LOOK STRAIGHT UP AND LOCK IN. Fix your eyes upon our Lord, Jesus Christ. Only when we view life through the lens of the crucified Savior can we keep our struggles, our worth and purpose in the proper perspective.
Look up — not out, not down, not inward. Look up. Fix your gaze upon Jesus. He is the author of our faith, the perfecter of our souls and the God who softens all hearts.
Most of us have never walked through life this way. And it is tough, especially if you are doing it alone. So surround yourself with other Godly women who are not blown to and fro by the latest self-help fancy but who are buried in the Word of God. Find some faithful friends who won’t condemn you, but will spur you on so God can use you to your fullest capacity.
I like to refer to myself as a “recovering approval seeker” because I’m anchoring my heart to His opinion and His applause. I don’t do it perfectly and neither will you, so don’t fret about every little interaction.
And besides, you’re never going to make everybody happy. You aren’t ice cream.
Alisha Illian is an author, speaker, and the founder of The Becoming Project. A self-proclaimed salsa snob, coffee addict, and crazy-in-love follower of Jesus, Alisha has a passion for women’s issues and Biblical application. She is the Director of Women’s Ministries at Riverlawn Christian Church. She has three kids, two dogs, and one high-maintenance husband.
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