As a mom, my desire to be accepted is constant. I want to know I am doing a good job; that I am loving my children well, that my children love me in return, that my husband appreciates me, that other moms look up to me, and the list goes on. I actually had a hard conversation with my husband just a few weeks ago where I wept and told him, “I just can’t seem to make it so that everyone in my life is happy. I can’t play with the children enough and also have the energy to give you attention when you get home from work, not to mention keep a clean house and cook dinner.” I was so strung out and exhausted from trying to have everyone love and appreciate me. I went to bed feeling so incredibly defeated.
I think this conversation with my husband and subsequent breakdown was God’s grace in my life. I needed to be reminded that, yes, I literally cannot do it all, and that the acceptance and opinions of others (even those that live under the same roof as me) do not define my worth. Maybe you can relate?
For me, there is this deep desire to be admired. I want people to see the way I parent and think, “Wow, she’s got the perfect mix of discipline and grace. She knows how to lay the hammer down but is also so free and fun.” I want them to see my physical appearance and think, “She is so beautiful and it doesn’t look like she has to take a ton of time to be that way. She is pretty without being overly vain.” I want them to see my lifestyle and think, “Gosh! She’s so perfectly imperfect and totally ok to be that way. She’s so free in Jesus. She must truly not be phased by what others think of her. I want to be like Kate.”
Did you catch that last part? "I want to be like Kate." Yep, I am pretty sure that statement right there reveals the heart of my desire for approval. I long for others to say "I want to parent like Kate, I want to be a wife like Kate, I want to cook like Kate, I want to look like Kate,...Kate, Kate, Kate." And you know what? It is utterly exhausting to live a life in pursuit of this, not to mention idolatrous. If the approval of my fickle two-year-old (who is in this lovely stage of looking me in the eyes and sweetly saying “I don’t love you, Momma.”) and the thousands of bystanders on the internet hold the power to determine my worth, I have lost the battle before the day has even begun. I am exhausted before 10am.
Jesus has such an attractive freedom to us for this exact reason. He is free. He doesn’t live under the bondage of needing the love and approval of others because He knows that His Father’s love and approval are all that truly matter. The Creator of the universe, all-powerful, almighty God loves Him. He doesn’t need to have the acceptance of friends, social media “likes,” the perfect body image, or any of the other myriad of things that distract us. He knows that the Lord, His Father, loves him and approves of him. He can rest.
Want to know wonderful news? That same confidence that Jesus possessed is 100% available to us in the gospel. This freedom and the completely unhindered love of our Father is the reason He came-- it's why we celebrate at Christmas. Christ comes to deliver us from our fears and slavery to the opinions of others, and to bestow upon us the only title and opinion that truly matters: Beloved Child of God (1 John 3:1-3). This is the entire point! This is why Christ could not let the opinions of others steer Him away from the ultimate goal of dying upon the cross on our behalf, to reconcile us to our Father. Praise the Lord that He didn’t succumb to the opinions of others, and that in Him we don’t have to either.
Jesus delivers us from the slavery of constantly trying to win the approval of others. He offers freedom from a focus on gym going, parenting-book reading, make-up wearing, happy attitude bearing, instagram sharing, and incessant comparing.
Because you are united to Christ, all that is true of him is true of you. You are God's Daughter, with whom he is well-pleased. Rest in that today.
Lord, thank you for delivering me from a life in which I am constantly striving to be loved and approved of. Thank you that I can rest in the love and approval you have already given to me.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION/ REFLECTION:
- What do you believe you need to win the approval of others? What things are you exhausted by doing in order to gain love and approval?
- Whose approval, deep down, do you really crave? Your husband? Family? Children? Mother-in-law? Boss? Other moms? In what way does knowing that you are loved and accepted by God make those opinions matter less? How is God different from those people?
- Is it difficult to accept that you are loved and accepted because of the work of someone else? What is it in us that wants to earn it for ourselves? Spend some time asking God to help you rest in the fact that because of Christ's work on your behalf, you are fully loved and accepted by God. Ask that he would let that be enough.
Kate Strickler lives in Charleston, SC with her husband Nate and their two wild and wonderful children, John Robert (2) and Scout (10 months). They love the beach, a good movie, and playing in their backyard. During naptime, you can find Kate in her happy place: the kitchen. She believes food is one of the most comforting, consistent, and tangible ways to serve and aspires to help people fall in love with cooking. We each eat multiple meals a day, so why not make it fun? She shares her simple, budget friendly recipes and ideas on her instagram at @naptimekitchen .