Looking for Love in Approval
Reading this chapter was like having BBs pelted at me! I look for love in approval from others so much! I think most women struggle in this area.
Marian talks on page 76 about how women feel insecure and fear rejection, so they conform and perform certain ways and change who they are hoping to find acceptance. So many of us will change and transform ourselves to fit whatever we think will gain us approval. Marian tells us that we are looking to others to tell us who we are. Isn’t this the truth!
So what causes us to feel this way? Marian proposes that rejection is one aspect of making us feel unwanted, unloved, and insecure. We have all felt rejected in some form or another. Some of us felt it when we didn’t make “the team” or cheerleader or you name it. Some have been rejected or made fun of because of our looks, socio-economic status, or just plain bullied because someone felt like bullying us. Others of us have felt a much deeper rejection from divorce, abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment. Whatever the reason, it has left us feeling blemished, incomplete, unwanted, and not good enough. Haven’t we all felt this way at one point or another??
These rejections leave us with labels, Marian says. Whether those labels are “ugly, uncool, stupid, unlovable, you name it!”, we all feel the pain from these labels. The closer you are to someone who rejects you, the deeper the hurt. Some of us are carrying around deep scars from people we love. So many of us strive to overcome these labels by conforming, manipulating, and changing ourselves to cover the deep wounds of rejection and shame we feel. We need something to fill the pain and make us feel wanted, loved, needed, and complete.
What labels have you been given in your life??
What things do we do to get approval from others?
Why do we do these things? What have we ever gotten out of “keeping up with the Joneses'”? When we do feel prettier, thinner, smarter, more successful, does this make us feel loved and accepted? I would say no. We just start striving for something else.
Feelings of rejection and painful experiences can cause these thoughts and feelings. However, Marian says on page 83 that they ultimately find their source from our separation from God. When we are separated from God, we are left with self-doubt and insecurities. Our hearts are searching for something to fill this void. When we don’t fill it with God, we fill it with other things, such as approval.
This can take place in several different ways. Many of us have bought into the lie that a woman’s value is in her appearance or outer beauty. Marian makes a very good point on page 85 about the cosmetic industry being a BILLION dollar industry! How much money do we spend to stay looking youthful, thin, “pretty”?? Marian makes a very good statement shortly after that rocked my world! She says, “When I seek approval by my appearance, I place my self-worth at the mercy of another- leaving my emotional state and sense of value to be determined by a mere mortal.” (p85) Wow. This is so true!! Why do we give people this kind of power over us??
This yearning to be physically “perfect” can be the root cause of many other issues as well. Marian points out that it can cause self-hatred, depression, eating disorders, jealousy among friends, avoidance of social situations, and financial debt. Not only these issues, but what are we saying to younger ladies and even our children when we are trapped in looking for love through approval in our appearance? We are teaching girls at a young age that they need to look a certain way to be accepted and “pretty”. So the cycle continues… This search for physical perfection is fleeting. We are going to age, and we are slowly going to waste away. This is the way God intends!
There are also those of us who perform for love. So many of us are what we would call “people pleasers”. We will go above and beyond to make the people around us happy. In making them happy, we hope that they will accept us and love us. This leads to thinking, “if I am successful, then I’ll be happy”. We have become obsessed with proving our worth. However, we know that this doesn’t happen. So many women today define themselves or feel defined by their title, degree, or occupation.
What defines you in particular?
If we answer that question by something extrinsic like an occupation, what happens if we lose that? Have we lost all our worth? Or is our value based on something intrinsic, something that goes to the core of who we are?
So how do we stop this vicious cycle of looking for love through approval? We need freedom to realize that we are accepted, good, and lovable. We need real security. The ONLY place that is found is in Jesus Christ. We don’t need to prove anything.
Marian ends the chapter with two profound statements:
“When we give someone the power to define us, we put that person in the place of God. God alone has the right to define you- meaning, the only person who can tell you who you are is Jesus” Amen!
“I know who I am because I know Whose I am.” I pray that this will be all of our motto we live by!
In my own personal story, I was made fun of all during my middle school years, and I’m sure some in high school. Girls can be vicious and mean! (So can guys!) I certainly never fit into the “cool” crowd. Entering into high school, I never felt accepted. From the outside, I looked like I had it all together. I was a cheerleader, played soccer for 1/2 of high school, made great grades, was on student council, and had “cool friends”. However, I always felt like I had to prove myself to many of these people. I mostly felt used. Unfortunately, I tried my hardest to “fit in” to the “cool” crowd, and ended up hanging out with them. This just left me feeling like I was cheating myself and compromising who I really was. This left me with deep scars of insecurity. Where my story is different from some is that I did have a few true friends that I had growing up. I just wish that I would have poured out all my time and energy into these relationships instead of looking for acceptance from others. (You lovely women know who you are. Thank you for loving me, even when I was and still am sometimes difficult and unlovable.)
For a while, I carried around these labels that I allowed people to put on me. However, in college, Jesus freed me from this pain. He allowed to me have healthy friendships, and brought me an amazing husband. Do my past scars still affect me? Sure. However, I have amazing friends, and a loving husband who will hold my hand and walk with me through my insecurities and hurt. I can now cling to Jesus, and because of Him I know my worth!