Growing up in the denomination that I did, I always had a sense that I didn’t quite fit in. I tried to talk like, act like, and dress like all the people around me; but it just didn’t work.
Years later, I have realized that many of those people are still wearing the same clothes, talking the same way, and acting like they did 20 years ago.
But why is there this feeling in my stomach that I just want them to accept me? I just want their approval. Even though my hair touches my collar and my wife wears jeans!
What is in the human heart that seeks to win the approval of man, but dismisses the truest of approvals by Jesus? Me included!
I happened upon a Facebook page of where I spent a couple of years at college. All the same faces, all the same messages. And yet for an instance, I was jealous! Maybe it’s just the camaraderie, I wasn’t sure…
I’ve walked through years of healing, by letting go of the past, and forgiving those who just didn’t know better. But there is still this longing to be liked. Ever feel that way? It’s like the abused wife syndrome, just keep beating me, maybe one day you’ll like me.
The way I grew up was you were accepted into the group if you dressed like them, and followed all the rules. Those who didn’t; just didn’t fit in, or they were dismissed as being backslidden and they just needed to “hit the altar” on Sunday, then repeat…every Sunday.
I can’t remember having one deep conversation about Jesus while I was in that place. NOT ONE! Weird isn’t it? Now we could study the Bible like no other, but we didn’t really know the man Jesus. It was all in our heads.
I was dating a girl in college and honestly thought she was the one. She was one of the main reasons I went to the college that I did. Anyway, she had asked one of our professors what he thought about me, as I had him in one of my classes. He told her that, “He doesn’t have the character that you have in your pinky finger.” WOW! So needless to say I didn’t meet her requirements…thank God. Ironically, I was working two jobs, carrying 18 hours credit, and doing the best I could. I didn’t have A’s, but geesh! Give a guy a break…I just wanted to be in the club!
SO what is it in us that wants to be accepted? I believe we are created this way. There is something in each of that wants to be approved. Our Father even knew this when He approved of His Son.
A healing moment for me came from my pastor. We were in a class that was developing leaders for discipleship groups. We had a time to come and pray after the class and I went to him. It was so simple. He said, “I am proud of you, son!” OK, for the next 1o minutes I wept on his lapel…it broke something in me. The fact that I hadn’t started a church, hadn’t grown a ministry, didn’t even have a decent job, and yet that didn’t matter to him. I was his spiritual son, and he was proud of me. It’s as if the heavens opened and I heard the same words Jesus heard, “This is my son, I am well pleased by Him!” Amazing.
So here I am today. Shaped by that moment, healed from all the man pleasing. Called to do something some didn’t understand…but I knew that I had heard God say “Go”. Even though I do things differently than my pastor, I know that I still hear those words in my spirit. I am proud of you, son.
Isn’t that what we all really want to hear?
I played Basketball in High School for a small Christian school in upstate New York. When I first started, I sucked…really sucked! But as I learned the skills and disciplines, I improved. I can’t remember a lot of the games, but I do remember one. We were playing a pretty good team and we got clobbered, but after the game my dad came up to me and said. “Man, I wish I could play like you! You are so quick and your dribbling skills are so good, you stay close to the ground, you’re really good!” That’s all I needed. I didn’t care about the score, the cheerleaders, the coach…my Dad said I was good…
Isn’t that what we all need? This is your Dad, and I’m proud of you!