the peace of killing the approval god

There was this boy that I sat next to in homeroom every day for three blessed years. It's possible that I'm misremembering, but I think homeroom was all of eight minute long, providing just enough time to finish one calculus problem.

Or, as was my preference, to think up ridiculously inane questions to ask the boy so that I could gaze at him longingly and turn red.

There were exactly two things that I knew about him:

1.) He liked a band that I liked. (A connection!)
2.) He was into riflery. (What.)

As a sixteen year old girl, few things interested me less than guns, but mercy, could I feign fascination if it meant any fleeting moment of his attention.

How long have you been practicing?
Do you have a date to homecoming?
What's a competition like?
Are you saying words? I can't even tell, you are so cute.
What kind of targets do you shoot?
Why does it feel like a million degrees in here?

Jumping through hoops to get people to like us is stressful. It can become a full-time job if we let it: a full-time, anxiety-inducing job with sucky benefits. Who needs that kind of self-defeating energy drain in their life?

Lemme introduce you to my almost-three-year-old. James dances to his own beat. He doesn't much care if you like him but you're more than welcome to hang. Sometimes Jim and I look at him, all mischievous eyes, underpants and rain boots, and think, That there is a middle child. 

(And then we say a prayer, because James can be a bit of a honeybadger and mama needs a break.)

James is a kid who does his own thing, unconcerned by the crowd's gaze. He's un-self-conscious and comfortable in his skin, just like the good Lord made him. At two and eleven/twelfths, James is well-versed in the practice of not seeking approval. 

As his mother, this drives me up walls, but there is peace in the principle.

It's folly to derive our worth externally, from what we do [I will work harder!] or how it's received [something entirely beyond our control]. Tethering satisfaction or confidence to approval is a rollercoaster on the best days and a perfectionist's hamster wheel or paralyzing snare on others.

Peace is not found in the vicious performance cycle. It grows from an identity unchained to the fair weather esteem of others and rooted in the unchanging love of God who created us in his image.

Peace is taming the desire for fickle human approval and resting in a God who knows our every strength, quirk, and shortcoming and loves us all the more.

(You may need to click through to see the video.)

  • Were you as embarrassing as I was in high school? How do you kill the approval god? Are you still thinking about guest posting on a practice of peace? How egregious is it for me to post a Call Me, Maybe video long after they jumped the shark?
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