Recently my friend Pastor Heather Arnold taught during our Sunday morning service at Global River Church. She taught about how about how our beliefs influence our actions and our faith. In classic Heather Arnold style, she made a case for how we should be governed by our spirit, and not by our mind, our will and our emotions. When she started teaching about emotions, she had my full attention.
To most of my friends, I am their stable friend. I seem to be fairly sensible and consistent, and am not drawn in by the latest trend or teaching. I am often sharing what I have learned with them during my morning Bible study…the teacher in me just can’t help but to offer my friends a morsel of wisdom in a situation they are facing. On the outside, yes, I am pretty stable. But on the inside, I am a quagmire of emotions! I can’t tell you how often I break down in tears at the cash register of Harris Teeter or with the Toyota service advisor. Some days, I’m just a mess.
Heather taught about how our lives should not be led by our feelings. Then she led us in an exercise to ask God what lies we are believing that are influencing our feelings, and thus our decisions, our thoughts, and our beliefs. When I shut my eyes and humbly asked God what lie I was believing, He spoke one word loud and clear:
He hit the nail on the head – I had been struggling for weeks to put my finger on it. It was the thing that kept me from speaking up. It was the force that made me fear retribution when I did speak up. It made me question each word I said, beating myself up afterward and wondering, “Why did I say that? That was so stupid!” It made me delete Facebook posts minutes after composing them because I was worried about what other people would think.
Clearly, Disapproval was leading my feelings in a dance that affected my decisions, my thoughts, and my actions. Sadly enough, I was not aware that Disapproval and I had been living together. Disapproval begin gaining influence in my life in small, almost subtle ways: Someone with spiritual authority in my life disagreeing with my decisions. A family member who found fault with my choices. A best friend who did not like how I protected my children. A church member who disagreed with my parenting style. Another church member who thought I was faithless. I felt hurt when they disapproved of me and felt like something must be dreadfully wrong with me. I could not measure up to their standards no matter how hard I tried.
Over time, I had let Disapproval move in, set up his furniture, block my doorways, and sleep in my bed. Disapproval presided over my emotions, influenced my thoughts, and governed my actions. Soon, my name was no longer on the lease of my life, but Disapproval’s. Just like women caught in the trap of domestic violence, I was now a captive victim of Disapproval.
As I sat in the church sanctuary and the truth slowly began to invade and uproot the lie, I sat up straighter. I now knew the name of my enemy. I chose to no longer be held captive by the Disapproval of my family, friends, and the women sitting next to me on the pews. It was high time for me to finally break up with Disapproval. In that moment I chose to no longer listen to Disapproval, and I asked God what truth He would give me in place of the lies I was believing. This is what I heard:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
I will be the first to admit that I have not done things perfectly. I have made my share of mistakes. Sometimes my decisions are really crappy. But when I sit quietly before the Holy One, humbly asking for His help, I do not hear His censure. I do not hear His correction. I do not hear angry words of judgment. I only hear His gentle voice calling to me, asking me to come to Him. He tells me that He loves me and that He approves of me. He tells me that He thinks that I downright awesome, no matter what anyone else thinks.
We can’t please people. We will never be smart enough, good enough, spiritual enough, helpful enough, or wise enough. But with God, WE ARE ENOUGH. Just like we are, mistakes and imperfections and warts and flaws. Because Jesus was enough. And when God sees us, He sees Jesus. If it is good enough for God, then it has to be good enough for me.
What about you? Are you allowing your life to be ruled by disapproval? Are you letting the opinions of others determine what you will say, how you will act, even how you will dress? Receive God’s truth that He thoroughly approves of you, and cast off your chains of disapproval. Walk in freedom, my friend! I am walking with you.
God, we live in a society where we are constantly looking to others for approval. Help us to recognize when we are living in captivity to Disapproval. Let us not let Disapproval influence our feelings, our decision, our thoughts, and our actions. Let us know that even in our failures, you do not condemn us.
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