My Idol, Approval

We must not have human approval as a primary or even major aim. We must lovingly allow people to think whatever they will.
— Dallas Willard

I wrote this down a long time ago when I first saw it pop into my feed, knowing I would need it sometime soon, and also being wildly convicted. Then, it was yesterday that I got the email, the email that made me question things about myself, the email that made me momentarily reconsider why I do what I do.

I’d like to say that it was just and only yesterday when I needed the reminder of the quote.

It’s been a pattern, a quiet one nonetheless, like most idols that need to find a way to slowly but surely eat at the heart of your soul and your belief in the gospel. I’ve spoken much about the season I’m in, wrestling with God to see truly what He is doing in the midst of what seems to be dark. I’ve swayed back and forth with my emotions slamming around like a pinball machine, not realizing that the changes would happen most typically when I would receive differing opinions on what my seeming worth was, teetering back and forth, up and down.

Thankfully, God hears and answers prayer. Thankfully, God is committed to changing us from one degree of glory to another. Thankfully, God moves in spite of me.

We were with family members when I made the horrible mistake of checking my email, only to receive harsh words based on misunderstanding. My anxious heart moved quickly, jumping from one thought to the next, leaving me wanting and desperate for this person’s fixed approval of me.

I will not be free until I allow what God says about me to be what I hold on to as fixed truth. Anything less than that tarnishes what the Cross means for my life, especially if I have to continue to still seek and pine after the approval of those around me. The idol was no longer something too quiet for me to hear. This idol was asking for all of my heart.

Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.
— Brennan Manning

One of my favorite plants, my monstera adansonii, got attacked with some gnats a few months ago. It was growing still, so I didn’t think it was a huge issue, and just treated the top layer of soil to fend off the horrible insect. I continued to care for my plant the same way I had since, not thinking too much of the leaves that had some yellowing in them. However, yellowing and gnats are two big red warning flags of overwatering. Although the plant is still doing wonderfully, the leaves closest to the soil have been pruned and plucked off, one by one, dead. If I would have paid closer attention, I could have repotted and cared for the plant at the root issue, instead of covering up nasty outside signs like gnats in my home.

This is true of my wandering heart. Silly metaphor aside, what is happening due to circumstances around me does affect me, but not as much as what is inside, what I believe. All of this has been a root issue, not allowing God and what Jesus Christ has done in his life, death, and resurrection to be the foundation of every single part of my life. I can lament circumstances, but the roots need to be firmly placed in firm foundation, not soaked in the opinions of others.

Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
— Psalm 25:5

I am continually thankful for the conjunction that separates my continuous failings from the only One who brings life: but God. His blood will be what paints my worth, not words that may change tomorrow.