Posts Tagged ‘seeking approval from others’

Deuteronomy 16:21-22

Worshiping Other Gods

Several months ago, I wrote a 28-page essay on my spiritual journey from birth to the cross at age 39 and beyond. When you have to sit down a write your life’s journey, it can be a revealing endeavor. When you are brutally honest about yourself and what all the events of your life really mean in the grander scheme of things, it can reveal things to you, about you, that you may not like. I may post that life’s journey here one day just so that I can share it with whomever stops by my website. Maybe, you can learn from it. But for today, let’s just suffice it to say that I had something else other than God my god. Growing up as a preacher’s kid, and a Methodist preacher’s kid at that, we were always moving. Every two to three years it was a new town and new people. I became a chameleon. I took on the colors of the world around me. Approval was the key to my soul. I wanted to be accepted above all. That was the main theme of my life for much of my life. Fitting in and being accepted. Always feeling like an outsider looking in. Always looking for that way to feel like I was a member of the club.

 

As I grew older into my teenage years and all throughout the first 45 years of my life (even the six years after salvation at age 39), I grew to see acceptance and approval as how the woman in my life felt about me. God, I look back at all those years with fear and trepidation now. But much of my life was equating access to sex with the woman in my life with my value as a person and as a way to validate who I was. As you can see, that is a recipe for failure. In order to maintain “bedroom approval” I would be a puppet on a string. I do not blame the women of my past for making me a puppet. People will take the power that you allow them to have over you just by subtle nature. I would forsake family, friends, good sense, I would forsake it all to maintain bedroom approval. It happened in both of my first two marriages and I let it happen. I was an approval junkie. I needed the woman in my life to pat me on the head and say “good boy!” The way that was evidenced to me was through the sharing of their feminine charms with me. By nature, they each realized the power that they had over me and would use it to achieve their goals in the relationship. I let ‘em do it too! Sure, I will stay in a constant state of war with someone in my family so as to isolate me away and make the approval needs that much greater (as it was with my first wife and mother of my children). Sure, I would do only what was legally necessary for my kids from the time their were 8 and 3 til they were 16 and 11 while I was married to my second wife. Sure, anything to do with my past before I met her I would discard and throw away. All of it was about bedroom approval. I would do anything to keep that. That is how I validated myself as having value. I was an approval junkie of the highest order. Approval of women was my god. It was the Asherah pole that I set up beside the altar of God.

 

That idea of making something other than God your god and how it was the approval of women that was my god is what I thought of immediately when I read these two short verses today. Let’s read Deuteronomy 16:21-22 together this morning:

 

21 Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the Lord your God, 22 and do not erect a sacred stone, for these the Lord your God hates.

 

I would love to say that things changed immediately after I accepted Christ as my Savior at age 39, but things did begin to change slowly. Through my salvation, I found that my kids were actually important to me and that I was going to do more than what was legally required for them. That was a choice between bedroom approval and doing right by my kids. That pretty much ended the second marriage. That was a devastating blow to me because it withdrew access to bedroom approval. In the years after that, my kids came first but I was still dealing with approval needs and still trying to validate myself through sex. I was younger, slimmer, and better looking in those days. It was still my nature to find approval through the relations that I had with women. When you make a thing other than God your idol, you will make stupid mistakes and people will fail you. When you make a person and what they can offer you, your god, you will be led down a path of self-destruction. It was not until God brought Elena into my life that things finally began to change.

 

She was unimpressed with my Casanova style. She was going through recovery from divorce herself so some hot shot, smooth talkin’ fella was unimpressive to her. She was a challenge and at first I gave up on trying to have a relationship with her. But she lived right downstairs from me and we became friends, first. We had long conversations on her porch at her apartment. We were honest with each other about our mistakes of our past. We were honest with each and let each other see the other’s skeletons and our fears about relationships going forward. In the midst of that friendship, I fell in love with her. God then removed me and sent me to California. The amazing thing that happened though was that our relationship survived that for a year and half before she moved out to California to be with me. With sex off the table, we became even deeper friends. We learned to love each other without sex being a part of the picture. I learned that a woman could love you for just being who you are and that I did not have be a puppet on a string. It has been through this relationship with Elena that God, I know, planted in my life that I have learned about agape love, the love that God has for us. Through my relationship with the woman who is now my wife, I have seen that love can really be unconditional and not predicated by rules or expectations. You just love. That is the way God is with us because He doesn’t want to see us destroyed by the Asherah poles that we set up beside what should be God’s sole place in our heart.

 

What is your Asherah pole that you have made equal to God? Is it your job? Is it your spouse? Is it money? Is it sex? Is it approval from others? What is your Asherah pole? What is your idol that you worship instead of or along with God? Take my word for it. Anything less than worshiping God alone is a recipe for disaster. Take a look at what you make as important to you as God and remove it! When we make idols in our lives, they will lead us to pain, heartache, and a destroyed life. Take it from one who has risen from the ashes through the action of the Holy Spirit in my soul as sent by Jesus Christ at the day of my salvation. Flee from your idols. Make God the only true God of your life. Everything will begin to slowly change as we dig ourselves out of the muck and mess that we have made out of our lives. Flee from your idols now!

 

Amen and Amen.

Luke 6:24-26 — Today, we come to the end of this “woeful” passage. The first thing that comes to mind when I read this passage is the old saying, “Even a dead dog can swim with the tide.” Today’s verse, v. 26, is about being part of the in-crowd and selling your soul in the process. There is trouble ahead for those who live for the approval of others rather than for the approval of the One who made us.

If I was in the crowd at the Sermon on the Plain here in this passage, I would have felt like this statement Jesus made was preached right at me right between my eyes. Have you ever heard a sermon where you thought the preacher was preaching right at you. Growing up as a preacher’s kid, I was constantly moving. Living in a new town every couple of years. I had to learn to adapt and fit in so that I would not be singled out as the new kid for very long. I became a chameleon at an early age. I did whatever it took to win the approval of the in-crowd. I was good at. I was so good at that it affected my entire life. Seeking and looking for the approval of others.

As I grew into adulthood, it became about seeking bedroom approval, as I will call it, from every woman that I was in a relationship with. Bedroom approval was everything. I lived my life for it. I compromised my principles for it. I sold my soul for it. Keeping access to the pleasures of the bedroom ruled my life no matter who I was married to but particularly in my second marriage. As a classic second marriage, it was ruled by my kids vs. your kids issue. So, my second marriage set up the ultimate battle of my life – my kids/your kids vs. keeping bedroom approval.

I regret to say that I failed in this battle. My relationship with my kids ended up being only what I had to do legally rather than being a real dad to them. I would compromise being a dad to them rather give up access to bedroom approval. Thus my second wife became my god. Her feelings about me ruled how I felt about myself. I do not blame my second wife for this, anymore. I blame myself. I could see what was happening but was not man enough to stand up and say that I am going to be a real dad to my girls. I allowed this whole thing to happen. My second wife was taking the ground that I gave to her just like anyone does in a relationship. I could have changed things early on but never did just to keep approval. That has been the story of my life from the beginning. Approval seeking. Making gods of approval in whatever form it may take.

Thank God and my salvation and two very loving daughters that I still have a relationship with them. As a matter of fact, our relationship now is a deep and abiding relationship that has survived and flourished. My girls are. It reminds me of how God sees us. We disappoint Him mightily each day but He still loves us and accepts us into His arms daily even when we have just blatantly all out said I think this thing is god and not you, Lord. He loved me anyway.

Whenever you make something other than God to be your god, you will make compromises on things that really matter like integrity, responsibility, and doing what is right. When you make something other than God your god, it or he/she will disappoint. When we make something that was created by God a god, it will fail us in some way. It is only when we find our value, our intrinsic value in God through Jesus Christ that we can get off the approval meter. It is when we find our value in Jesus Christ that we finally see that compromise is not the answer. Fitting in by compromising that which is right is only temporary. As humans, we change the rules about what is right and wrong as time marches on, but the principles of Jesus Christ stand forever. When we get to our judgment, are we going to say, “Lord, I did the best I could to fit in with the crowd?”

Each one of us has a judgment day coming. It is inevitable. It will be either at our own death or when Jesus Christ returns with the sound of trumpets in the eastern sky. We will be judged by our Creator. Why then do act as though our judgment is not coming by living lives of compromise just to fit in. We all recognize that there is an end to this life and some form of judgment awaits regardless of whether we believe in any god at all. Our Father in Heaven wired us that way. It is in Jesus Christ, who knows what lousy scoundrels that we are, that we find forgiveness and being made right with God. Even when we have flaunted our nose up at him for years and years. He is ready and waiting for you to see that man-made gods are not the answer. He wired you to worship Him, recognize Him. He gave you free will and you used it to worship other things just like me. I worshiped approval from others, from women, from things, from security, from fitting in until I was age 39. It was then I found that all of that was meaningless. Again, I come to Matthew 6:33, seek the kingdom of heaven first. Seek the approval of the one who really matters in eternity first. Everything else is temporary. Seek Jesus first. Please Him. All this other stuff is all secondary to that.

It is funny that when you quit the rat race of approval seeking from others and begin seeking His approval, that God will bring you the man or woman that He designed for you. When you quit chasing anything else beside Him, He will fulfill you and give you different eyes. It was only when I laid down my need for approval from women and what they offer a man that I finally found true relationship in that area. God had Elena finding her way to me but God would only allow me to see her when my eyes were focused on Him. We make mistakes in life that we regret, but through Jesus’ grace, our Father says welcome home, I am glad that you can finally see me.

Final thought – live your life with a vertical approach (seeking approval from the Father in Heaven) instead of a horizontal approach (seeking approval from other people or things that are here on earth).