Thursday, July 3, 2014

the struggle for affirmation

Sometimes things happen that are out of your control. Things that affect you, affect others around you, but were unintentional. Sometimes those things are frustrating, embarrassing and awkward. Misunderstandings and confusion abound. You spend days wondering if you're really truly a horrible person and everything you thought you were doing well is really just you deceiving yourself. And sometimes, simply, other people overreact and you aren't really sure why.

This has happened to me on a large scale maybe about five times in my life, and multiple times on a smaller, less serious level. Every time, I spend several days or even weeks questioning myself and fighting incredible insecurities from my past - slashing open old wounds and painful blunders and wondering if I ever even changed at all.

In times like these, I crave affirmation. Any kind. Tell me I'm pretty, tell me I write well, tell me I'm honest, tell me you love me, tell me I'm great with kids, tell me you see God working in me, ask me out to coffee, ANYTHING - I'll take it! Sometimes I even start fishing for it (then you *know* I'm a mess :P) because I need to feel like I'm okay, and people in this world actually like me and want to be around me. I work myself like crazy, doing extra stuff around the house, or volunteering and serving other people in an attempt to feel productive and useful to someone, anyone, pleeeeeease!

For most of my life I assumed that people hung out with me because I forced them too - and that if I didn't reach out, no one would reach out to me. And at certain points in time, that has actually been true. Believe it or not, I've never been what anyone anywhere would call "popular." So I continued to throw myself into every activity I was in, participate in everything I could, and extrovert myself as much as possible so that maybe, someday, someone would want to hang out with me - on. their. own.

Frankly, it's embarrassing.

But it's part of my story.

It's even an "official" part of my personality type (ENFP). Check this out:

"Most ENFPs have great people skills. They are genuinely warm and interested in people, and place great importance on their inter-personal relationships. ENFPs almost always have a strong need to be liked. Sometimes, especially at a younger age, an ENFP will tend to be "gushy" and insincere, and generally "overdo" in an effort to win acceptance. However, once an ENFP has learned to balance their need to be true to themselves with their need for acceptance, they excel at bringing out the best in others, and are typically well-liked. They have an exceptional ability to intuitively understand a person after a very short period of time, and use their intuition and flexibility to relate to others on their own level."

Not that that's an excuse for anything. Just interesting to note.

I'm sharing this for a reason, and it's not to throw a pity party or get attention or vent. It's to encourage you. I think, deep down, most of us struggle with this exact same problem - this overwhelming need to be affirmed, to be liked, to be sought-out. It might manifest itself different ways, and because I'm such a dramatic, artless, genuine person, it's really hard for me to conceal what's going on inside. For the most part, what you see is what you get with me.

This time around, the struggle has been more towards the Lord. A desire to know from HIM whether we're still good. Because in my heart, I know this doesn't affect anything. His love, His grace, His mercy doesn't change no matter what. When I'm weighed down to the ground, broken under the weight of condemnation, it's not from the Lord. It's not from His Spirit. Yet, in that posture, at the end of myself, prostrate, I can see HIM better. And oh, how true those words ring out straight from the voice of Jesus:

"Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." - Matthew 11

He reveals the condemnation for what it is, encourages me in the purity of my heart, and lifts my chin up out of the dust and fills my soul with hope. He says, "It's okay. We all make mistakes, but you'll be better because of it. I still love you - and nothing will change that. You don't need anyone to tell you you're special, because you're MINE, and that's about as special as it gets. Trust Me. Rest in Me. I'm working this for your good. This is just a step along the way - the beginning of something better. Shake it off! Let's keep going - there's better things ahead."

I'd be the first to raise my hand and say I've done some super dumb things in my life. But I immediately afterwards, I will jump on a chair and shout from the rooftops that I have a God Who is bigger than the boogie man, Godzilla or the monsters on TV and He's actively at work in my life to make me more like Jesus - and nothing can get in the way of that, and nothing formed against me will stand! He does great things *in spite* of me.

Honestly, if God can do something, anything for me, of all people, than He can do it for you. So don't listen when the enemy tells you your mistakes ruin everything, that you're worthless, or that no one likes you. Because it's a lie. "When all around my soul gives way, He then is ALL my hope and stay!"

Brothers and sisters,
Our worth is found in Christ ALONE. 

The only affirmation worth having is "Well done, good and faithful servant."

He is enough.


4 comments:

  1. Amen, sister!

    Also, I'm an ISTJ. Interesting.

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    1. Opposites attract! I guess we were meant to be kindred spirits <3 <3 <3

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  2. This post came at just the right time. Thank you for taking my eyes and pointing them to Jesus. <3

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  3. This is really good! Thanks, Jo! :)

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