Living Preapproved


It’s a rainy, do nothing kind of day. . .

Or I should say nothing in particular but rather a whole lot of anything. Anythings, like lying around and watching movies with little ones, reading books, possibly even take a nap.

And so that’s how I’m planning on spending my day. And I don’t feel bad about it; not one bit.

And while that might not seem like a big deal to you, for me it’s huge. It’s progress.

You see I’m a recovering approval addict. For a long time, I believed my value came from doing so a day like today would not have been OK.

Since I was a child I was a people pleaser. A good girl because I just didn’t want to cause any trouble. So I got good grades, became involved in all kinds of groups and activities thinking if I could just DO all these things, people would like me, be happy with me, and maybe I would be happy too. But really what it did was cause anxiety and still no sense of true value.

And then it got worse. Because I became a mom at 18. And I knew that my previous accomplishments were irrelevant. They wouldn’t matter.  People would just see another young mom, another statistic.

They wouldn’t know I had been an honor student

They wouldn’t know that I had gone on missions trips

They wouldn’t know or care that I had been student body Vice-President or a Campus Ministry leader. . .

So I had to come up with new accomplishments. I had to prove I was smart, capable, more than “just a mom”.

I worked, went to college, later grad school, and then another credential while raising eventually four children. Because if I could just DO everything, then I would BE enough. Then I could be worthy of approval, no matter what choices I had made in my past.

After years of battling anxiety, I fell exhausted from weight of the do-it all supermom “cape” I had been wearing. Though I grew up with faith and going to church I had a hard time believing and receiving grace. It just seemed too easy that it was actually hard to accept.

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the old “supermom” days

But I was desperate. So I took a chance on Jesus and His grace and made a choice to live fully surrendered.

I stopped trying to earn approval and started trying to just live as one who is loved.

But old habits can be hard to let go of completely. . .

And time passes, I think I’m better, I think I’m good I KNOW the only approval that I should care about is God’s, and I already have that right?

But I’ve realized that I’m still struggle with trying to gain approval. Both man’s and God’s. Even through the things I do. . . in His name. . .

A few weeks ago I had a speaking engagement that I had been preparing for. I was sharing a part of my story and felt good about the message. Then the morning of, I was late. Like really late which caused me to be all sorts of frazzled. And though I made it OK and shared my message, I felt off, like it just didn’t go as well as I had hoped.

Like I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. What had started out as a desire to bless others by sharing what Jesus had done in my life turned into being about ME. How I delivered the message, the words I chose, the tone I took, what I wore, etc. It became about ME and what people would think of ME rather than how I can point people to HIM.

But then the following Saturday I co-led a workshop with a friend and I felt like it went well, we received positive feedback and I felt good because I got my approval fix.

And so it goes, I mean well, I want to serve, I want to bless, I want to be a living sacrifice for Jesus but then there’s this thing. . . Oh yeah pride and her friend. . . insecurity. And I realize I also want people to like me.

And I still want to feel accomplished.

And much as I hate to admit, I get sucked back into seeking approval.

I want my husband’s approval.

I want my family’s approval.

I want my friends’ approval.

I want the audience’s approval.

I want the readers’ approval.

As much as I say it doesn’t matter, it still does a little, at times a lot. I look for approval. For “good job”, for “you were great” for “you look pretty”, “you’re a great mom”, “I loved your blog post” and so on.

If I’m not careful I can take the things I do, even the ministry work done in HIS name as sources of value for me.

Or worse even I can use them to measure God’s approval.

I want to use my words and life for God’s glory but. . .

Maybe I need more blog followers

Maybe I could do more if I had a larger platform

Maybe I could reach more people if I had more speaking engagements

Maybe I need to get more women to join our mom’s group

Maybe I need to take on one more thing

Maybe then God will really be pleased with me. . .

I forget about grace. I forget that it refers to God’s unmerited favor.  It is kindness from God we don’t deserve. We will never deserve. No matter how well or how poorly I perform. Whether I have two things or ten things on my to-do list. I forget that I’m already pre-approved.

I forget that there’s NOTHING I need to do to get Him to like me more, to approve more. He already does completely.

And if He could use fishermen, liars, murderers, adulterers and ordinary uneducated men and women to tell HIS story then surely no matter what my words, body language or public speaking skills lack He could use ME.

Because no matter how I try to spin it, the reality is my story is not about ME at all. My story is about how God can use me to tell His story. At least that’s what I want it to be.

But I’m human and I don’t always get it right. And I forget that He works best through imperfect people. He works best through the ones that are running late, the small bloggers, the broken-hearted, the tired moms, the ones who need to fall on their knees over and over.

I think I know this, I think I believe it and yet sometimes even as a coach I need to coach myself and be reminded of what I know as truth. There are layers to the approval thing. And sometimes all I can do is take it one day at a time. And while I may struggle at times I know there is power in sharing struggles. There is power in vulnerability and I may not get it right every time but when I share and put myself out there, out HERE. I am peeling through one more layer. I’m going in deeper and getting closer to the root and hopefully encouraging others along the way to do the same.

Because the truth is this world will never say I’m enough, I don’t subscribe to its standards and I fall short of what is deemed as success.

But for the God who made me, who gave me breath and who I choose to live for, there is little I have to do but receive His grace. Anything else I do “for Him” or “in His name” really should just be out of love and a desire to bless others and follow His commands.

He already thinks I’m pretty awesome.

Even if I spend the entire rainy day in my pjs.

I’ve joined Jennifer Lee’s #preapproved movement based on her book Jennifer Dukes Lee, in her book, Love Idol: Letting Go of your Need for Approval and Seeing Yourself in God’s Eyes that is perfect for all of us recovering approval addicts. I highly recommend it.

And I’m linking up with

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  1. Wow.

    (Mouth wide open. Chin on floor.)

    I am so glad you shared this, Zohary. And I’m thrilled to have you on the journey. I know this post will minister to others, as it did to me, so I’m going to share this on the Love Idol Movement page tonight. Fantastic stuff here.

    I’m rooting for you. I believe in you, because I believe in this Jesus who lives IN you!

    With joy and appreciation,

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. God is so good to lead us out from under these idols, to free us from the wight of “enough”. You are a light, a beautiful generous gift, and you do not struggle alone. Praying you’d feel His joy over you, and that you would experience forever freedom from the idea of having to please anyone other than Him. He is pleased with you, because He made you–you are a treasure.

  3. I’m thanking God every day for you and praying that He allways continuing using you to share His Grace Love and Mercy.Since the date that you were born, you were His choosen child, giving you so many talents, that I can not count, to make the difference in this “World” I’m so proud of you! You are UNIQUE, PRECIOUS, and a TREASURE.
    God bless You! and I Love You!!!

  4. Zohary,

    I appreciate so much learning more about your story and your journey with God…I can relate to having to tell myself the truth about God’s grace over and over…you’re amazing 🙂

    1. Dolly, thank you so much for your sweet comment. Grace. . . over and over, all the time. You are pretty amazing my friend! We really need to meet up sometime soon. . . . 🙂

  5. Zohary, oh yes..reading your story is like hearing my own. Though some of the particulars are different, the experience is so much the same. Performing, trying to please, never enough, making progress only to see how I let performance continue to tell me who I am/what my value is. But for grace. So grateful for grace. Need to cling to it moment by moment. Thank you for sharing your words. This so encouraged me today.

    1. Ashley thank you so much for stopping by today and for your kind words. So happy to connect with you and I’m so glad you were encouraged! Blessings to you.

  6. It is interesting that often what I know in my heart to be “enough” is there but I get distracted by the voices of family telling me I need to do or be more. The absolute truth is that I am enough for the One who really truly loves me and that’s all that matters. My beloved husband and best friend tells me this very often and I am reminded how richly blessed I am to have a Father who loves me and has gifted me with so much more than I ever dreamed!

    Sure, I would like to be the best daughter, sister, wife, mother, servent of the Lord, but the truth is that only God’s oppinion counts. So, I need to get it out of this order and place it in proper order then everything will fall into proper perspective : servant of the Lord, wife, mother, daughter/sister, friend. With God first in my mind and heart everything that really matters will be just as it needs to be to either grow others or myself. *smile* When things start to get hairy, as they sometimes do, I am reminded to reset my priorities in this world. *smile* God straitens things up for me and I am eternally greatful!
    Have a wonderful day remembering to pray always. Sincerely, Mommy of two growing blessings & so much more!

  7. Zohary, this was such a brave and honest post–thank you! I am guessing that on those days/times when you felt completely undone and imperfect you may find later on that God used you the most. He just wants us to be obedient to show up and shine.

    You shine brightly!

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