Today is the beginning of Lent. Some of you observed Ash Wednesday today. Some of you have given up something for Lent, remembering Jesus’ 40-day fast at the beginning of his ministry.
We are participating in a sort-of fast. A friend and I are leading Jen Hatmaker’s study The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess. We’ll look at seven areas of our lives – food, clothes, spending, waste, possessions, media, and stress – and try to figure out what God would say about our lifestyle. In my own case, I believe He would say that I could do better.
My big issue (as I see it now) is this: I am an affirmation junkie. I wanted to be able to say “a recovering affirmation junkie,” but that just wouldn’t be honest. The truth is that I want you to like me. Want to make me smile? Comment on my Facebook posts and pictures. Want me to be your BFF? Tell me that you value my ideas, opinions, and talents.
Years ago, people were interested in their “love languages.” Interestingly, “words of affirmation” were not necessarily at the top of my list (giving/receiving gifts was – now what does that tell you?). But since then, we have moved, changed jobs, changed churches, tried to fit into a new city, had a baby, and experienced several other life-changes. My circumstances have changed, my friendships have changed, my position has changed.
And even though it sounds like I’m still in middle school, when I am honest, I just want you to like me.
But slowly, God is showing me that my feelings of worth cannot be tied up in what you think about me. Friendships come and go. Jobs come and go. Ministries come and go. But my position as a child of God will never change.
While my life is marked by ambition, accumulation, and perceived success, then no matter how much I squawk about Jesus, I am a resounding gong, a clanging symbol; I am nothing. (The 7 Experiment)
God is clearing out the clutter, not just in my refrigerator, but in my heart and my motives. And I hope that someday I can say that it really doesn’t matter what other people think.
But until then, please like me. And show grace.