This year my goal is to share surrender stories, encouragement from myself and others that will encourage you to surrender the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate. Last week Sarah Hamaker shared her story about parenting expectations. Alexis A. Goring let us in on her journey about surrendering refined sugar.
My story is about letting go of people pleasing and approval.
For those that know me now, they can’t believe I’d waste much time on such a thing. Peers find me God confident and secure in who God says I am. Trust me, that wasn’t always the case.
I was a hurting person growing up and took offenses, even slight ones that weren’t even intentional, to my core. I nursed them, fed them, and sewed them into my heart. By the time I was in my mid/late twenties and starting married life, approval had a grip on me.
What my husband thought of me kept me busy day and night. Choices he made I zeroed in and was certain was because of me. I can’t tell you how many of our early conflicts had the words, “This isn’t about you.” I couldn’t believe it. And I was imagining so many disappointments he had about me that I conjured up real conflict.
I did the same with colleagues and clients. I wanted to be the best and felt I was only good at what I did when I saw the organization or may name in bold newspaper print. Well, not every task is going to make the news. I exhausted myself wanting the approval.
The object lesson that I share with ladies I speak with is the loudest example to me about how sick I was when it came to needing approval and caring what people thought of me. I am so NOT a crafty person. But years and years ago for Christmas dinner at the in-laws I was chiseling an eggplant into a penguin centerpiece. If Pinterest existed back then I would have scoured the site looking for something I could bring that would make me feel worthy enough to be there. I was up into early morning getting this eggplant centerpiece ready. By the time I got there, I was too tired to be social. No one cared about the penguin. These people just wanted to see ME.
But back then, I still didn’t see it, and surrendering it was a process.
Here’s what God did in me.
I went to a couple retreats where prayer was intensive and I took steps of faith to share my story and allow others to pray. The results were powerful. God showed up and I felt for the first time how deeply Jesus loved me. He started to re wire my mind.
Then, I read. I’m an avid reader and I’m not afraid of a tough Bible study. I journeyed through Beth Moore’s Believing God and a few years later, Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating. Both these books were tools in God’s arsenal to set me free.
This healing in my life paved the way for me to write. There was no way I could have pursued writing for the public the way I was, and sadly I see too many authors with this approval/what others think burden and it is exhausting for them and frustrating for those in their circles. It would have emotionally snuffed me out had I not sought healing. And in His mercy and humor, I did receive a negative review with Entrusted. The person was kind but they didn’t like the book. They even admitted the hardest part was they hit purchase twice, so they were stuck with two copies they didn’t want.
Not long ago that review would have sent me to bed and I would have kept it churning in my mind for months. Today? I smiled. Not because I’m mocking the reviewer, but I’m so thankful for what the Lord has done in me.
And my friend, He longs to do the same for you.
I like my name in print.
I like my name in bold print.
There was a time, that confession was so much more than that. Seeing my name in print was my marker on how well I was doing with my work. If my name or a project I was working on made the papers, I felt good about myself. If not, I felt like a failure.
That’s a seesaw way to live and not a very healthy one. If I had a psych degree I’d love to interview celebrities. I wonder how many struggle with the same value system, that they only succeed when they are known. I can tell you this, it wore me down fast.
There is a better way to live. My value long term couldn’t come from what I created but from my Creator. Big difference.
When I know I’m God’s daughter and a precious one at that, I still feel valued and special whether my name is in the paper or not. When I receive feedback that is filled with proverbial red marks or what feels like a verbal dress down, I own it for what it is. No longer do people’s opinions and the world’s rules own me.
Things that helped me in the process and still do today were of course Bible reading. I studied Song of Solomon as not just a look at marriage but a study on the faith walk between myself and Christ. I realized just as it says, “I’m dark but lovely.” I goof up and have many bad hair days. Still, God and His Son think I’m lovely. That’s value you can’t put a pricetag on.
I also am a Beth Moore study veteran. It’s a lot of work but I sacrificed TV time and other things that didn’t carry a lot of value to dive into those studies. I’ve done her entire Reflection series. If knowing who you are in God is a struggle for you too, consider her study called Believing God. It literally changed my life.
The John and Stasi Eldredge book Captivating also rocked my world in the best way. When you embrace the truth that as a woman you are God’s masterpiece and the crown of Creation, you’re going to walk a little taller. For the longest time I thought woman was created as a kind of oh, right, Adam needs someone. Here. Not so! We were the cherry on top. God put very special thought into each one of us.
I think my writing is taking a new direction because He’s rid me of nearly all the desire I had to see my name in print. I don’t envision my smiling face as a cardboard cutout promoting my books at your local store. If that happens, awesome. But I don’t need it. That makes all the difference.
My value is bold, but not a bold font, not anymore.
How about you? Where does your value come from? What people say about you? The things you do? Buy? Where you work? Or, from your Creator?
True Value logo from photobucket