Thursday, May 27, 2010

Addicted to My Own Significance

Significance has always been important to me. Scratch that - significance has always been addicting to me. I can pin some of it on being a firstborn I suppose, but the fact is, I have a problem when it comes to seeking approval from others. I guess we all have ways of expressing our different forms of insecurity, and mine manifests itself in a must-be-the-best-and-never-disappoint-over-achiever kind of way.

When I was younger (and even still today) I strove for the approval of my parents - I got good grades, I held myself to high moral standards, I was responsible, etc. - and as my parents gave approval and encouragement generously, I received positive reinforcement for that striving. I was a complete teacher's pet in high school and college and I basked in the glory of how significant I felt. I care about what my friends think of me, my clothes, my apartment, my cooking, my friendships skills. And now, being a wife, I find I pin my significance on Devin's opinion of me. Through all this significance-seeking, I also base my significance on how I feel about me - Did I do enough? Did I try hard enough? Was I good enough?

Did anyone else notice the One I failed to mention in the above list of significance-providers?

"For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?" - Galatians 1:10

During small group this week, I was struck by the above question and by the knowledge that far too often I look for my significance from man rather God. I also realized that even by seeking significance from within myself, I am still seeking it elsewhere than from God.

Here's an example of what I mean: How often do I do what is right because it makes me feel good about myself, rather than with the motive to seeking God's favor? (The answer, in case you couldn't guess is: very often.) That's not to say that doing right and pleasing God won't produce a feeling of happiness and satisfactions within me. But if in the honest depths of my heart my motive for doing good is self-pleasing, then I am placing my approval of myself above God's opinion of me.

It makes me think of the verse that says, "Apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Without God as my motive and focus, my actions are hallow. My deeds might be good, and even feel good, but my heart is full of the spiritual adultery that seeks satisfaction and significance somewhere beyond God.  

I am in essence saying, "You aren't satisfying me God, so I'm going to find satisfaction elsewhere." The Bible often describes this attitude as adultery, whoring and prostitution. Now that I'm married, I can picture the pain of that analogy so much deeper. I can only imagine the devastation I would feel if Devin told me, "Sorry Hon, but you're just not meeting my needs. I'm going to go fill them somewhere else. I'll see you around though."

Ouch.

When I look to others rather than God to fill my need for significance, I am telling God He isn't enough for me. I am creating idols in my life and I am sinning.

I know I am blessed to have a circle of people in my life who love me, encouragement me and remind me that I am significant. I am grateful for that human example of God's love for me. But I need to put God back in His rightful place as my first and main source of significance and let the others be just a nice reminder.

Q4U- Where do you seek significance?

4 comments:

  1. Well spoken my favorite cousin (dont tell the rest of your siblings i said that.)

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  2. Stephanie BashamMay 27, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Unfortunately, I seek significance in many of the same ways you mentioned you do. I want other people to think I'm great and well-rounded and talented and good at everything, and I ESPECIALLY want to impress myself (which is even harder than impressing others, I'm sorry to say).

    Thanks for the reminder of Who I should be living for. The funny thing is, I was about to write "Who I should be trying to impress," but that's not even the right idea either. I already have His favor! I don't need to try to get it! I just need to live in a way that reflects how much I love Him. Oh, how my mindset is so twisted sometimes.

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  3. Ouch indeed. I've been working on this. Or rather, letting God work in and through me on this. The adultery analogy is a good one!

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  4. Reading the above blog and comments from four of my favorite people in the world gives me hope for the next generation.

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