We don’t just want it, we NEED it to function. It is part of the human condition to want to feel valued. It may come to us by a boyfriend, our parents, our coworkers, some friends, a professor, even by ourselves.
I struggled my whole life to feel approved by others, approval was my idol. My weird need to feel like I was important caused me to overthink every interaction or text message I’d exchange with people. If my boyfriend at the time got upset with me, even if I knew hadn't done anything, I was immediately in tears wondering why I couldn't keep him happy even when I was trying so hard. Friendship that faded troubled me for months and years to come.
For all of these reasons, my first months as a freshman in college were my own living Hell. All at once, life crashed. I was an hour away from all of my best friends, almost no one at my new school was talking to me, I lost my long-term boyfriend, and my depression and stress caused constant fighting with my mother, leaving me almost completely alone in already-new surroundings. My old friends became more of a blessing in my life than I had ever realized, but text messages from miles away couldn't fill the void of approval in my life. If I ever thought my life wasn’t worth living, it was then. I watched my friends join sororities, make new friends, go on dates, as I sat in a dorm thinking of nothing but how empty I was. No pictures to post for that rush of validation when the likes came in, no friends to put me on their snapchat stories, nobody to text me 24/7, making sure I constantly felt needed. I was the only college freshman that wished class lasted all day; my good grades and chats with my professors were the only source of value I had. The faint promise of a better experience (I had decided to transfer universities) next semester was all that kept me going. “A few more months I would tell myself the hours I laid in my room alone, walked to the cafe and ate at empty tables, and when I missed my old relationship, my dogs, my life full of others’ validation.
I don’t say all of this to complain, I’m so grateful for what I learned then. This backstory just goes to show that I’ve known firsthand what it was like to feel like my life wasn't worth anything to anyone, even myself.
At that time, I was what you would call a “lukewarm and watered down Christian”, meaning I believed in God, wouldn't dare say “geedee”, and didn’t like people heckling Jesus. Other than those afterthoughts, basically nothing about my heart was different due to my “Christianity”. I did whatever I wanted, prayed occasionally for selfish things, and lived my life for myself. It wasn't until one of my best friends from home told me to visit her church’s Wednesday college service, that my perspective about life forever was changed. I only agreed to go because, if you hadn’t already assumed this, my social life was a tad bit dry at the time, but I’m so thankful I did.
Hearing God’s word changed my life. That night, the good news of the Gospel was preached, and boy was it received. For the first time in my life, I trusted that my happiness, future, and plans were not in my hands, and were not going to be determined by how popular I was on this earth. I prayed and handed my life to God, and I asked that He now be my life’s purpose, hope, and pursuit.
My heart was new at this realization. God didn’t take away those people in my life so that I would suffer, he forced me to step back from people so I would realize my glaring need for Him, and so that I would realize my idolatry of approval. My groanings for a friend were transformed into praises and thankfulness for God’s love and presence, because that was all I needed anymore. If I hadn’t been disheartened and lonely, He never could have shown me how INSANE his love is. I thought I had nothing, but because I had grace, I had everything.
How could I now, knowing what I know, and believing that Jesus is who He says He is, think that anyone else’s love is vital to my existence? Let’s not dilute what Christ did for me, for you, on the cross. “It is finished” did not mean “now I die”. It meant “I have completed the task for you, I have drank every drop of penalty God intended for sinners, your debt is paid in full, and now my purpose on earth has been fulfilled.”
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Fast forward over a year, I feel more valued and valuable now than I can ever remember feeling. The freedom, that comes from accepting the truth of this verse is indescribable. My heart overflows more than ever. On my lonely days, I seek Jesus. After all, I now understand that the joy of His love is so much greater than the joy I could get from opening a million snapchats from the best looking boys, or from being invited to a million get-togethers from the coolest girls. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with friends or boys. I have AMAZING friends that I love endlessly, and I have so much fun with each of them. I’m just saying, that’s not where your worth lies.
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