The Need for Acceptance
Many people today are looking for acceptance. As the saying goes, “No man is an island”, and for us the need to connect with others is an innate longing deep within our souls. We want to share our lives with people who will accept and love us for who we are, and we want them to do the same in return.
Some people seek acceptance from their peers in a healthy and balanced way. For these individuals, seeking the approval of others does not affect their identity. They are confident in who they are, and do not need to conform to others in order to gain acceptance.
Many people, however, seek acceptance in unhealthy ways. In this case, the need for approval can go above and beyond knowing your identity, to the point where it becomes obsessive and overwhelming. This person will oftentimes conform to a group in order to “blend in.” Oftentimes, they feel inadequate and do not even like themselves.
I have often struggled with this “approval addiction” in my own life. And as a result, I could not see my own unique individuality.
When I was about 10 years old, I found myself at that awkward, in-between stage of life, where, I was no longer a child, but still not old enough to be considered a mature adult. I still enjoyed being a kid at this point. But I was beginning to learn more about my own identity. During this time, my personality was still forming, and I began to develop in my talents. I also started to realize what I liked and I what I disliked.
For whatever reason, I always loved to observe people. Socially as a child I was always a timid and shy person. I was never a talker but I sure was a good observer. I found people fascinating! My curiosity was always perked at what different people wore, or what they looked like, or what they said. Whatever I observed in people. I wanted to then take on as my own identity. I “proudly” called myself a chameleon for many years because I blended in with whatever group I was with. If they were loud and outgoing, I was loud and outgoing, If they were silent I was silent. My identity was wrapped into external circumstances.
I always tried to be part of the “cool” group. I supposed everyone wanted to be cool at a young age. But for me, being a part of the “cool” group was more of a burden than anything else. I was never satisfied with myself as a person. I was either too fat, or too tall, or to stupid. I always compared myself to other people, wishing I could be like them. I always remembered feeling as if I did not measure up or that I was somehow inferior to the rest of my peers.
Whenever I did not “measure-up” to a certain criteria I always felt rejected and unloved. I remember a time when I was scolded for forgetting to where a watch to school, and I was asked sharply “Why can’t you be like the rest of your class-mates?” Obviously that person had very well meaning intentions for saying what they said. But that sharp comparison left me with an identity of inferiority. It left me broken inside as a human-being.
For many years I suffered with “comparison – itis”. I never knew who I was as a person because my identity was wrapped up in my ability to be like those people I thought were “perfect”. Self-pity and shame had become my identity. Because I always felt I worthless. I would often think “ If I could be like that person then I would be perfect.”
THEN GOD CAME
As a professing christian, I had accepted Jesus Christ into my life when I was in my late teens. I accepted Jesus because I thought he could fix whatever it was that was wrong with me. I was a broken person, who felt like her life was falling apart (for more that one reason), and I needed God to help me. I was reading the bible, and I began to notice that it said alot about a person’s new identity as a Christian believer. For example, 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says “ Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!” . Well I certainly did not feel new. And nothing in my life led me to believe that I was new. But after reading pages and pages of scripture just like this, I knew that I had stumbled onto something very important.
Eventually God led me to many good christian messages about my true identity in Jesus Christ. As a new believer in God I had been washed in the blood of the lamb, and forgiven of all my sins. The more I read God’s word, the more I realized I was not a worthless piece of junk in God’s eyes. But I was a beloved, Child of the Living God. One scripture that I held dear to my heart was Psalms 139 : 13-16 which reads,
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
God knew who I was before I was even born. He created every facet of my being. He created my hair, my eyes, my nose. He created me with a purpose for his own good pleasure. The more I read about my identity in Christ the more I knew how special I was to God.
By no means was my journey to know my identity in Christ instantaneous. It took many many, many years for me to come to full understanding of the love of God for me. However, as I type this article now I can say with full confidence that God is my identity! Not others! I am loved by him, For God is love! And he gives love and acceptance with full and unconditional pleasure.
Have you too struggled with comparison or identity? If so, I want you to know that just like I found freedom and hope in this area, you can too. I encourage you to really look at what you believe about yourself and ask yourself if it’s true or not. And if it’s not true, then go to God’s word and claim some truth over your life!”