Ensuring acceptance and approval

We continue with our exploration of the important question, “Who am I?” The series begins here.

koolaid

We’ve drank the Kool-aid.

Our families, the feedback we receive from people, the culture and media all conspire to mis-shape us, to convince us, either innocently or intentionally, that who we are is not enough. Sadly, we have come to believe this. Most of us live with a deep-seated, core belief that we are not okay, there is something fundamentally wrong with us.

HOW WE HANDLE THIS

When I was in college there was a popular book written by John Powell, “Why am I afraid to tell you who I am?” Powell answered the question for his readers, “because if I tell you who I am, you may not like who I am and I’m all I got.”

We have learned to hide the parts of our self that we fear will be rejected and instead we offer the parts of our self that will most likely buy us acceptance and approval (or at least protect us from the pain of rejection.) Why do we do this? Like Powell did before me, I will answer the question for you, “because we have exchanged the truth of God for a lie.”

You believe untruths about yourself. You’ve drank the kool-aid, you are convinced you need to be something more or someone different than who you are. Being unacceptable or undesirable is a pain that must be avoided at all costs. Vows are made that will protect you from relationships and situations that will arouse the pain of feeling unacceptable or undesirable. (Look here for sampling of such vows.) Without intervention, we live by these vows; they falsely promise protection from pain, but they don’t eliminate it, they only postpone it.

Yet God does not let the God-spark within you go dark; a slight and wavering ember of hope remains, announcing truth – you are valuable. Listen to this whisper, it is God’s voice calling you.

With you on the journey,

Debby

This post continues to answer the question Who Am I? which begins here, and is part of a series The New Old which explores six old familiar topics God wants to make new. Join me each Monday for a new installment. I pray our God, the ancient of days, will make a new day for you to enjoy in God’s presence through this series.
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What do you contain?

Others give us pictures of who we are and then we dutifully live into their ideas.

Others give us pictures of who we are and then we dutifully live into their ideas.

Picture yourself as a piece of molten glass, your form determined by the movement and the pressure of your maker. When your maker is done, you are crystal clear and uniquely shaped. Beautiful to behold and created to contain and display what has been placed within you.

Your family values, spoken and unspoken, your God-given temperament and personality determined the shape of your container; but what do you contain? What information have you stored away? What messages have been absorbed into your identity? Who tells you who you are?

The feedback we receive about who we are and whether or not we are valued has a large influence on the contents of our container; maybe I should say it has a large influence on how we feel about the contents of our container. Others give us pictures of who we are and then we dutifully live into their ideas.

One of my favorite illustrations of this is a story told by Guy Doud, teacher of the year in 1986. He says he didn’t know he was fat until he entered kindergarden. Up until that time, he knew only what his family had told him about himself, he was loved, smart and handsome. In school his classmates told him he was fat, called him chubby and constantly teased him about his weight. These messages were more influential in forming his self-identity than the words he received at home and in church. When he felt bad about always being the last person picked for the kickball team, he would comfort himself with a bowl of ice cream. Told he was fat, he became fat.

For those of you who know me personally, you may be surprised to learn that I was a talker when I was in high school, non-stop chatter was my hallmark. (Please forgive what I’m going to say next, remember it was a long time ago in an era much less politically correct than today.) My Sophomore class raised funds for a school trip by having a “slave auction” (I warned you.) When purchased you had to do whatever your “owner” told you to, within reason of course. I was bought by my science teacher, Mr. Greenberg. As his “slave” he put a piece of duct tape over my mouth and made me wear a sandwich board that read “Supermouth is silenced.” This got me a lot of attention. People expected me to talk a lot, when I did I got noticed, so I committed myself to constant blabbering.

This pattern continued into college, when two popular girls from my church college group quoted their version of Proverbs 27:15 “A talkative woman is as annoying as the constant dripping of a leaky faucet.” They were going to “help” me squelch my talkativeness by simply saying “drip, drip” whenever they thought I was talking too much. Boy, did this shut me up. The world wanted me silenced. I grew quiet and afraid.

God’s voice, speaking of our beauty and belovedness, often gets buried by the influx of images, information and expectations coming at us. But God’s love does not abandon us. God’s inextinguishable spark of life burns within us and by God’s grace burns away all the falsehoods that have entered our souls.

This post continue to answer the question Who Am I? which begins here, and is part of a series The New Old which explores six old familiar topics God wants to make new. Join me each Monday for a new installment. I pray our God, the ancient of days, will make a new day for you to enjoy in God’s presence through this series.