I have always wanted people to like me.
Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to have lots of friends. I wanted there to be no conflicts. And I wanted people to agree with me. And like me.
In junior high & high school, my focus was the same. My goal was to be the nicest, most polite, compliant, hard-working and kind person ever. So that people would like me.
When I arrived at college, I boldly told my roommate that my goal our freshman year was to meet everyone on my college campus (4000+ students). And not just meet them, but befriend them so that through my awesome friend skills they would all, in turn, wait for it…like me.
See a theme here?
I have had the joy of walking with Jesus since I was very young. My first memories include singing in church, reading the Bible and learning the stories it held.
However, I have still struggled with the approval of others all of my days. The Lord has worked on and broken down and chipped away at this idol for many years, through many people, his Holy Spirit and the truth of His word. But I’d be remiss to not say I have let it come back and get a foothold many times.
In recent years, I have had to fight this temptation on a whole new level. Thirteen years ago, my husband and I planted a church with six other families. We stepped out in faith and began a work He had called us to do. Over 13 years, the idol of man’s approval has tried to rear its ugly head many, many times:
If someone doesn’t like my husband’s sermon.
If someone doesn’t agree with a leadership decision.
If someone decides they need to move to another church family.
If there are articles written about my husband and our church in the local paper that are not correct.
If I hear of someone slandering our church, our staff or my man to others or on social media.
If someone who’s been with the church for a long time, decides they don’t agree with us anymore.
If someone attacks my children verbally to get to me.
If someone speaks words that are cutting or mean.
If someone decides they will sue us.
If someone thinks I should be more involved than I am. Or less involved.
If someone expresses their disappointment in me.
Whew! This sounds exhausting, right? That’s exactly what it is. It is an exhausting and tiresome trap that the enemy would LOVE for everyone, and more specifically, wives of pastors/leaders to be bogged down in.
In some of my hardest moments, I journaled the following:
“I feel like I am bogged down in muck. Trapped and stuck in the opinions of others. Like I am standing in a tub with a plugged drain and all the filth and yuck is piling up at my feet, slowly poisoning my entire body.”
After that entry, the Lord brought this passage to mind from Psalm 40:1-4:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.”
Oh the freedom! He lifted me out of the miry pit, he unplugged the drain and let all the filth be washed away. He set me on the Rock! He gave me a new song of thanksgiving! He reminded me to trust in Him and Him alone.
No matter what others may say. He is the trustworthy one, whose approval I have gained through Christ. Not only does he like me, but He loves me. And His is the only love and approval I need.