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Approval Versus Affirmation
by Richard Innes

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have
drawn you with loving-kindness" (Jeremiah 31:3, NIV).


I recall exactly where I was standing some years ago
when an extremely simple, yet profound truth suddenly
dawned on me as I said to myself, "The reason I felt
empty inside is because I am."

Like thousands of other kids I grew up suffering from
love-deprivation and for a big part of my life worked
tirelessly to gain approval, not realizing that I was
substituting this for the love I yearned for deep
inside.

Approval can look very much like love. It can be given
in love but it isn't love, and when substituted for
love it never satisfies.

Approval is based on what we do, but we need to feel
loved and affirmed for who we are. Approval is a good
thing when given and received for the right reasons,
but when substituted for love it can become another
addiction to anesthetize the pain of not feeling
loved. It can be like a drug. The more we get, the
less it satisfies, so the more we seek after it.

Affirmation is based on who we are apart from what we
do. And only when we feel affirmed, can we get off the
merry-go-round of doing all sorts of things to get
approval.

More than anything else we need to know God the
Heavenly Father's love and affirmation at the very
core of our being. This, I believe, is one of the
greatest needs of every human heart without which we
may believe in God with our head but still feel
disconnected from him in our heart.

And how can I know God the Father's love and
affirmation at the core of my being? First, by
believing that God loves me because his Word says so
and taking this by faith. Second, by sharing my total
self over time (especially my dark side) with one or
two safe, trusted friends who will love and accept me
just as I am--warts and all. As they do this for me,
little by little I come to love and accept myself and
in so doing I feel affirmed and open myself to
accepting God the Father's love and acceptance through
them.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me a friend
or two with whom I can be totally open and honest,
friends who know me and will love me still, and
through whom I can feel and know your love and
affirmation at the very core of my being. Thank you
for hearing and answering my prayer. Amen."
 
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