I recently finished reading the book “The Love Idol” by Jennifer Dukes Lee. That book was transformational in my life.
I have often wondered why I am so crushed when I receive criticism, especially when I believe it be undeserved. I’ve wondered why I feel a reflexive need to defend myself against criticism.
I have felt elated when complemented, praised, given an “atta-girl” by a boss, coworker, friend. However, it does not last. Soon, I am wondering when someone will notice my efforts again.
This book opened my eyes. I had made approval from humans an idol. It was too important to me. God’s approval is what matters, and scripture tells us we are PRE-APPROVED! Praise Jesus!
“We twist our desire for approval into a false god. Instead of resting in the love and approval of an unseen God, we chase after the temporary pleasures of human validation.” Love Idol – Introduction
This realization was so freeing to me. I need not seek approval. I need not feel down when I don’t get the appreciation I believe my efforts deserve. I need not feel crushed when criticized. I need not feel compelled to defend myself against criticism.
That does not mean it is never appropriate to defend oneself against criticism. I am saying that I need not feel compelled as though if the criticism were left undefended it left a stain on me. I can defend myself much more calmly and rationally when I do not feel compelled, when I know that it’s OK if I am unsuccessful in defending myself, because I am APPROVED BY CHRIST!
1 Thessalonians 2:4 (ESV) says, “ but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”
When I defend myself, I need to speak to please God. God knows whether I am deserving of the criticism.
The need for approval really can become an addiction. We receive praise then in an hour, a day, a week, we are wondering when someone will notice us again. I did X. Why didn’t anyone notice? There is always something for which we crave approval. The cycle is never-ending. The beast will never be satisfied. The elation we receive from approval is temporary, then we need another fix. Just like alcohol, drugs, sex, food, and other things. It makes us feel good, but only for a while. Then, we want more. We crave more. We convince ourselves (with a lot of help from the Enemy) that we NEED more.
Once we look UP instead of OUT, and realize that we have a never-ending font of love, acceptance and approval, we need never crave it again! Once we realize that all of the love, joy and “feeling good” we could ever want or need is available to us, flowing from an outrageously loving God, we are freed from thinking we will obtain happiness from alcohol, drugs, sex, food, or any other temporary thing.
“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.” Brannan Manning
I am beloved by God. I am accepted by God. I am APPROVED by God.
I still catch myself wondering whether people will approve of a choice I make. However, I realize it far sooner and can squash it. I look to God. Whisper a quick prayer. Focus on whether God would approve my choice.
I feel so FREE! Praise God! I have been unchained from the love idol!