Wednesday, June 13, 2012

whose approval?

I've written before about being a secret Christian, being okay if you know I am, but not going out of my way to say: hey, I read the Bible and I pray and let me tell you about love and grace and forgiveness and salvation and seeking and finding. For a long time, I didn't want to talk about it. Partly because of the kind of labeled Christians who make the news for shooting abortion doctors. But mostly, I didn't want to talk about it because while I find joy and peace in my faith, it can be a struggle learning to grow in love and truth.

So there are messy parts of drawing near to God. I cannot come near to God and say I want to follow the example of Christ and love my neighbor while still clutching anger and jealousy. And letting go of those things - selfishness, bitterness, envy - letting go is not a single prayer. Letting go is many prayers and much practice.

Yesterday I read a verse. I read a few verses, but this is the one that jumped:

For am I now seeking the approval of man or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10, ESV

I reread it a couple of times. At different points in my life, I have desperately wanted the approval of my parents or siblings or friends or in-laws or extended family or colleagues or peers or neighbors. The game of it is, you either get that stamp of approval or you don't. And if you get one stamp of approval, you're after a second and a third: you want that smile or nod or letter in the file or call back, whatever currency your approval is traded in. So at different periods in my life or surrounding certain relationships, I've been an absolute mess in my head of wanting you to like me. And when you still didn't like me, I added enough loathing to the mess in my head until I got sick of it all and said: forget it. Done. Done. Done.

Reread that line about letting go being many prayers and much practice. Quitting the approval game is tough. Perhaps tougher since I didn't see all the ways I played it until more recently. It's been a fun three years. I get a little smug sometimes, thinking I've really got it this time, I'm not so frail now. Oh, humility, come to me.

So how do I know if I am seeking the approval of God? How do I know if I am a servant of Christ? I've spent a lot of time thinking about intent. Are my motives right? Even when my intent is good, my words or actions are not always eloquent or recieved well. Am I okay with that? So it circles back to whose approval I chase.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Been there too, and it is hard. You look at who you want to be, but then you look who you really are, and they are two different people.

Then you tie in a lot of dogma, and a lot gets tangled.

There is a line somewhere, that states also do not trust in your own understanding, meaning there are higher truths, and we can not attain to them, but they can be given us as a gift in our search for knowledge and wisdom.

Best of luck. I am glad I read your blog, so I am one of the people who likes you. :)