This morning our preacher, Kevin Jourdan, preached a sermon on worry. I don’t consider myself a chronic worrier over most things, but he hit on a topic which deals with worry that struck me to the heart: I am a chronic approval seeker.
My entire life I’ve sought approval from anyone who would give it: parents, relatives, friends, etc. And not just on important things, but minute things. And while I sought approval for many things, most of it boiled down to wanting the question answered, “Am I doing enough? Am I doing well?”
I remember back when I was in high school I won a Christian leadership award at camp for two years, voted on by my peers. As long as I won that award each year, I felt assured that I was doing enough. I was getting approval that I was enough for them. It was like saying, “We see you are trying hard. Keep it up!” That kept me fueled in hard times in high school. As long as my parents praised me as a daughter, I was was enough. I fed off that.
Time has passed, life has changed, and approval doesn’t come so easily from everyone. I feed off of comments which praise me in some way or affirm that I’m doing a good job in mothering/being a wife/being a Christian. I read into others’ expressions (and possible judgments) directed toward me. I even read into when others don’t say something to me and receive that as a negative judgment (“Oh they must not like me. They think I don’t do enough good things, etc.”) I’m called a “judger” by testing standards because I always try to judge what others are thinking of me…all the while seeking their approval. And even when I did receive those compliments from others here and there, I still did not feel affirmed in my Christian walk. They just never left me fueled for long because there was always something else I needed to change that made me feel inept. Why? What was I missing? What was making me feel this way?
This is what it boils down to: I did not feel I had God’s approval on my life. I’m always seeing something in myself that I need to change: I need to sacrifice more, need to give more freely, and need to do more, be more, etc. (And it’s good to soul search and find out how to better ourselves into looking like Jesus—he desires that!)
But I told my husband today, I feel as though in some ways I dread standing before God because I’m afraid instead of saying, “Welcome, good and faithful, servant!” that he’ll instead say, “Well….come on in, but we have a lot of things to talk about how you could have improved down there on Earth. Instead of getting a big mansion like people who really served me well, this is your shack down here…and you’ll get to scrub these streets of gold. But be glad…you made it to heaven by the skin of your teeth.”
Where did this idea come from?! I have no idea. I know that we are saved by faith and belief in Jesus and our willingness to follow his commands, not in our works we perform for him. And that God loves his children more than the lilies of the field or the birds of the air. So why was I so worried about seeking everyone else’s approval and fearing that I didn’t have God’s acceptance?! Why could my head not tell my heart that?
Andrew and Drew left to go run errands a few minutes ago, and Hannah was asleep. I went to get my devotional book so I could catch up on my reading in a rare moment of daytime quiet. As I was walking through the living room, God spoke to me. There was no audible voice. The heavens didn’t open up. Nothing shook. But it was as clear as day in my head. As if he’d spoken the words out loud in front of me.
God said, “Audra, you are enough. YOU ARE ENOUGH FOR ME. And I am enough for you!”
I literally fell down on my knees and bowed my head to the floor and sobbed. It repeated in my head again, “You are enough, Audra! Continue molding your servant heart for me, but know that just as you are…you are enough.” I poured my heart to God right there in the floor, telling him my worries, my fears, my inadequacies as a person, my fear that I am going to walk extremely dark days at some point, knowing all the while that he knew them…He just wanted to hear them. And then I felt freedom. I felt deep, genuine, lasting acceptance. For the first time in my life, I think. And you know what I told God? I don’t have to live in a mansion in heaven. Cleaning your streets of heaven is enough for me. I just want to be in your presence for eternity. Sitting at your feet in awe of your love for me, as imperfect as I am. That is enough for me. You are enough for me.
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