The difference between working from acceptance or for it cannot be overstated. Working for acceptance means that when it comes to relationship with God and people, your primary motivation is to be approved and validated. You need people to like you and you are practiced in the art of impression management. You tend to not like it when other people are being approved because your tendency is to see them as competition. It’s OK to like being liked, but it’s another thing to need it. If your primary motivation in life is to work for acceptance, no amount of approval is ever enough. This probably is a big part of your relationship with God, too. Even though you may know that God loves you and has accepted you, that reality has not made into your heart. There is a sense that if you could just do enough good, maybe he would approve of you too.
I know that world all too well and am trying to find a better way. Working for acceptance is exhausting. You need everyone to like you and no matter how many followers you have on Instagram and no matter how many compliments you get, it’s never enough. You feel like if you could just be accepted by the right people or if you could just achieve enough, the need for approval would go away. If you work for acceptance, you peddle your identity on social media or in different social circles and you’re only as good as how others respond to you. I’ve lived this way for far too long and I can tell you it’s no way to live.
Working from acceptance is an entirely different thing. If you work from acceptance, you like being liked but you don’t need to be. There is a deep assurance that first and foremost, God accepts you. You’ve received Christ as your Lord and Savior and you know that God is pleased with you. You are assured of the fact that you are his beloved son or daughter and that nothing can change that. You’ve been assured in the depths of your soul that you are accepted by the One whose opinion matters more than anyone else in the universe. This deep and abiding revelation has freed you from the daily grind of impression management. You are shedding the grave clothes of mask-wearing and people pleasing. If people don’t approve of you or if they reject you, that is nowhere close to the end of you. Your sense of self-esteem does not rise and fall with how the outside world responds to you.
This way of living is not normal, but it is available. God loves you exactly as you are and wants to assure your heart of his love for you. He can usher you into a much more enriching existence if you are willing to follow and trust him. Old patterns of thought and harmful paradigms are not easily dismantled, but it is possible. The journey towards healing starts with honesty and that is where I would encourage you to start.
Are you working from acceptance or for it? I’ve worked for acceptance for a very long time and I’m making the slow, but important journey towards healing. I don’t want to need the approval of others and I don’t want my deepest fears to revolve around what other broken people think of me. There is Someone in the universe whose opinion of me does and should matter the most and he’s where I want my sense of identity to come from. I hope you’ll join me.