I have realized and convinced that no matter how spiritual people are, they can still be trapped under any kind of addiction. But the good news is that there is hope. The root cause of approval addiction is believing error. Jesus said, the truth will set you free; so the opposite should also be true: error will put us under bondage. Approval addicts are evidently under the bondage of error. They have learned a pattern from the world, from their own past, from other people, during the many years of their life and apparently believe that it is their actions or behavior what makes them acceptable to people and God. The hope is found in Jesus, when we put faith in Him, He makes us a new creation. Our true being is regenerated by God and He gives a brand new spirit; our way of life would change from outside-in to inside-out. The rest of the life we will go through a process of learning to walk by faith in the Spirit who dwells in us. To me, though I have started my Christian life many years ago, I didn't really believe the unconditional love, total forgiveness and total acceptance of God. There is a big difference in knowing and believing and believing the truth is the key to beat approval addiction.
Acceptance by God
It is not enough to know the love of God; do we believe that God loves us and accepts us as we are (messed up, weak and sinful)? Are we ready to believe what God says about us?
Knowing and believing the acceptance by God lead us into self acceptance; which contributes to self esteem. As we start accepting ourselves we tend to judge us less and less. One of the key verses which convinced me that we shouldn't be judging ourselves is this:
But [as for me personally] it matters very little to me that I should be put on trial by you [on this point], and that you or any other human tribunal should investigate and question and cross-question me. I do not even put myself on trial and judge myself. - 1 Corinthians 4:3
Why wouldn't Paul care others judgment? Why wouldn't he judge himself? There was One who was judged on his behalf. The lamb of God was judged, ridiculed and crucified on our behalf; He became sin for us by hanging on the tree to take our sins away from the eyes of God, never to see them again. In Him, we have the total approval of God. Knowledge of this truth is what gave Paul the confidence to say the above statement. Not only he knew it, but believed it, which enabled Him to say one of the startling statements in the Bible: 'For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.'
Paul's past failings did not make him a failure. In fact, God used his past to advance His kingdom among Gentiles. God can use our past for His purposes. Paul talked about his weakness in Romans 7, but he offered it to God and God used him mightily. Let's start believing what God says and let's stop listening to the lie Satan tries to induce into our mind. Renewing our mind with truth is the way to replace the lie we have believed for a long time.
Paul said, "I would not allow anything to control me" (1 Corinthians 6:12). He made this statement right after making one of the most controversial statements in the Bible: "Everything is permissible". Everything is permissible because we are totally free from the law. But Paul wouldn't misuse that freedom to allow anything to control him. He wouldn't allow him to be addicted to anything. I wouldn't believe he conjured up that strength by his own energy; but his total dependence and total confidence in Christ is what strengthened him. It is knowing that we are weak and His strength comes in full in our weakness is what makes us strong. His power is made perfect in our weakness. Lets not be afraid when the Light shows us our weaknesses; lets not run away from it; instead lets be truthful and bring it unto God and offer it to Him.
God separates what we do from who we are. We are identified with Christ and it is our identity what makes us who we are, not what we do. As we start believing it, we enter into His rest where we can be at ease, not performing to gain acceptance, but totally resting from all our works and snuggling into His lap and enjoying His acceptance.
Ephesians 4:15 encourages us to 'speak truth', and James encourages us to 'confess our sins to each other'. If we do not agree that we have an addiction, it would be hard to deal with it. Speaking the truth and confessing to each other will allow us to be healed from the wounds we all carry in our hearts. It is the understanding of our acceptance by God is what makes us to be truthful. Being truthful is nothing but living without a mask. I am not saying it is easy, but it is possible. We are sealed with a seal of approval in Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our hope. No matter how hard we try, it still wouldn't be enough to satisfy the people around us. They will need more and more, demanding all our strength and eventually we will burn out. Such consumerism is what we see around us, and we can only stand in the middle and wonder how we are going to satisfy all their demands. Well, the truth is we can't, and we will never be able to. So, quit trying.
The epidemic of insecurity in our life can only be dealt by God. In Him we can be totally secured, fearless and totally loved. Our deep need for love, acceptance and approval is fulfilled in Him, and no human can never ever satisfy that to the full. The foundation for our security is knowing who we are in Christ, accepting His unconditional love, and accepting ourselves as we are. Remember, we are referred to as believers, not achievers. What ever needed to be achieved was achieved by God once for all of us, now we need to only believe.
If we believe the error that we are "an old, rotten sinner", then we will just keep sinning and sinning because what we do comes out of our "who" - out of who we believe we we are. We need a "righteousness consciousness", not a "sin consciousness".
Stop being against yourself just because Satan is against you! Let's join with Apostle Paul saying "I do not put myself on trial and judge myself". We can be relaxed in Christ because He called us into a 'rest'. We can be gentle on ourselves thinking the right thoughts. Proverbs says, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he". We need to renew our mind (thoughts) in accordance with God's thoughts about us, then we will see the victory over the approval addiction. I wouldn't expect this to happen over night, but it is a process. Today, I can very well say that I am not where need to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be.
1. Victory over Depression - how to live above your circumstances by Bob George is the best bet. Though I haven't read that book by myself, I have heard the testimonies of others and guarantee that there are a lot of truth in it.
2. Approval Addiction - Overcoming Your Need to Please Everyone by Joyce Meyer. To be honest, I am not a big Joyce Mayer fan. In fact I do not agree with everything in the book. My wife bought this book a long time ago, read it and gave a great feedback. But my skeptical nature didn't allow to pick it up. But couple of weeks ago, I didn't have anything else to read and I picked this one. Now I am glad I did it. I was amazed by the fact that she gives so much emphasis on our identity in Christ. I really don't know everything she teaches but this book is great and it will certainly help those who struggle with the issue of people pleasing.