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When Wanting to be Accepted Turns Into an Obsession

By: Bethany Baird

It was a hot summer afternoon, deep in the heart of Texas. I was twenty-one years old and extremely self-conscious about looking good in front of other people. I would do almost anything to impress others. I  wanted to be liked.

So imagine how I felt about driving a car as old as I was. Yeah, I wasn’t super thrilled about the idea. But the car was free (given to me by my grandparents), and it was in great working order.

It was practical and got me where I needed to go.

Even so, I was extremely self-conscious about driving it. When I would go hang out with my friends, I would park way in the back so no one would see me.

Then the wheels came off of my pride.

I was driving down the highway after having lunch with a friend. It was hot outside, and my car air conditioning couldn’t seem to keep up. I was sweating while keeping my foot on the gas, trying to get home when I hit traffic. All of the sudden my car started shaking and then shut down. I was mortified!

I quickly turned the key, and the engine came back to life.

Then it happened again. Cars began honking at me as I inched down the road. I called my dad, and he explained that my car was overheating. He said, “Turn on the heater as high as it will go and get to a parking spot as soon as you can.”

I was already totally embarrassed, sweating, and flustered that I was clogging up traffic. Now, I had to turn the heater on in the middle of a blistering summer day? I thought I was going to die of embarrassment and/or melt in my seat.

God used that experience to open my eyes to just how ungrateful and prideful I had been.

I was basing my worth on what others thought about me. I was overly concerned about looking good in front of my friends and much less concerned about living for the approval of Christ.

I now realize that my worth is found in Christ alone.

  • Christ is my hope (1 Cor. 15:54–58).
  • Christ is my satisfaction (Ps. 17:15).
  • Christ is my standard (Matt. 16:24).
  • Christ is the only One I need to please (2 Cor. 5:9).
  • Christ is concerned by the state of my heart, not the kind of car that I drive (1 Sam. 16:7).

Fast forward several years to today, and I still drive that old car. The only difference is that I don’t park in the back, and I’m no longer embarrassed or ashamed.

Maybe you’ve never found yourself dripping with sweat, pulling your car to the side of the road, but I bet you can relate to my story. You want people to like you. You want to impress others.

You want people to want to be around you. Am I right?

Wanting to be liked isn’t a bad thing, but feeling like you must have the approval of others and doing crazy things in order to achieve that is a problem. The apostle Paul said it this way,

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).

I want to encourage you to stop and pray right now. Ask God to reveal any area of your life where you are living to please others. Ask Him to help you to put Him back on the throne and to make living for Him your number one priority.

I’d love to hear from you.

Do you struggle to live for the approval of others instead of living for the approval of God?

How can you surrender that area to God and make Him the most important person in your life?

Photo Credit

Girl Sitting on Farm Tool

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  • Clara

    Thanks so much for this post! I really do struggle with placing my identity in popularity and friends. Part of this is I am super short and young looking, so I want people to know my true age and I like attention! 🙁 I am working on really grounding my identity in Christ and not caring what others think as far as appearance goes.

  • Sofia

    Once, my car went crazy. I could open the door, but the car alarm would go off every time my door was open. I was in a parking lot area and people were staring at me. So to keep from being stared at I closed the door and only opened it every minute or two for fresh air. I was sweating and scared. It was so embarrassing! I called my dad and he told me what I had done wrong (it wasn’t even the car’s fault, it was mine!).

  • Hannah

    Wanting the approval of others is something I struggle with a lot! Thanks for your encouraging words and the reminder that our worth is found in Christ. It’s a journey and I’m pressing on for my Savior!

  • I used to wonder what people would think of the way I dressed, when I was little I would get uncomfortable in clothing that was clearly older, that made me look younger, that was entirely different from what everyone else was wearing… I remember a Sunday when I went to church with a friend of mine when I was ten and was embarrassed by the fact that I stuck out like a sore thumb, I was literally the only girl wearing a skirt or something modest, everyone else was wearing tight pants and low cut or tight shirts. But as I got older I started to understand what it meant to be set apart and defined by God instead of the world, thanks for writing this post.

    God bless,
    Tatiana

    • Deranda Smith

      I can relate to that. People tend to associate my modesty to a non-existent insecurity that I have about my body. Just because I prefer to feel covered doesn’t mean that I don’t like myself.

  • Liz H

    Awesome post Bethany! Soooo true, approval of others can quickly become such a huge idol! We must faithfully keep our hearts like a garden, paying attention to any such ugly weeds that may sprout up!

  • Kaela Schultz

    Thank you so much for this post! This is my life right now! Do you have any tips on how not to be so self-conscience? I am really struggling the area of trying to please everybody around me. I know this is wrong, but i can’t seem ti get out of it.

  • Great post Bethany! Thanks so much for this reminder!! 🙂

  • Light177

    I am going through this right now so this post is right on track. I have been struggling with ‘down in the dumps’ feelings (related to people acceptance) for a couple of weeks, in fact years, and I have never truly dealt with it. I just attend to it superficially and suppress it until something happens that triggers it again. Thank you for this post!

  • Janet

    For me, I definitely struggle with this. I think this comes from the cultural standards and norms that we think we have to go in par with; however, I have noticed that the Lord is helping me to tell him my struggles even in the midst of a struggle. Instead of just saying “Lord, I confess this as sin..” I also tell him, “Lord, I am struggling with this …..and I don’t know what to do. Please help me!” Being real to the Lord instead of pretending like it doesn’t exist increases my enjoyment of the Lord because he shows me how much I desperately need him always. But not opening to the Lord hinders me from truly knowing the Lord as grace. This is a daily working out of my salvation.

  • Heidi

    I also drive a car as old as me. I bought it because it was really cheap, but runs well (my mechanic brother tells me). I thought I was over feeling like I needed to be accepted (PRIDE), buying that car proved me wrong. Yeah, my friends didn’t help, but I had to learn the lesson of finding my acceptance in the Lord for real.


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