I want to be liked. I want to be affirmed. I want people to enjoy being around me. I want to have something special to add to the world.
As a teenager and even into my adult years, I was severely insecure and self-conscious. I was never part of the inner circle … felt like I was always on the outside looking in. I was awkward and shy, and worst of all, I wasn’t anything special. Nothing about me or my abilities made me stand out. I often felt overlooked. And when I was noticed, I stammered and blushed and felt stupid.
There was always this longing inside. I wanted to belong – to be wanted!
Over the past couple years I’ve worked through a lot of these insecurities and have even become a part of some “inner circles”! It’s an incredibly sweet thing, I must say.
But I still find myself drifting to that insecure place deep in my heart at times. I wonder if I’m being real and if I was being real would people still like me?
People say I’m sweet. But am I really sweet inside? Or is that just how I come across because I’m quiet when I’m first getting to know people?
Am I truly calm, kind, wise, mature, sweet, and happy? Or are those just fronts I find easy to put on for a day … but would fade with time and show that I hide an unstable, unlikable person inside? Maybe my true self is actually more critical, tumultuous, selfish, prideful, and passionate to a fault?
I’m afraid that time will reveal my true colors and people’s admiration or liking of me will ebb and vanish. And I’ll be alone again.
So there’s that.
And now here’s what I believe God’s been teaching me.
I do hold a lot of ugliness inside. I am a fallen, broken, sinful human being. I am selfish, prideful, critical, tumultuous, and can be intense/passionate to a fault. I have a big capacity to hurt people and drive them from me. I walked in darkness, and at times it shadows me still.
But there’s a beautiful part to follow … I am also a new creation in Christ! As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17-18: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
- Made in the image of God, as it says in Genesis 1:27: So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
- A child of light, as it says in Ephesians 5:8-10: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
- Of a special people, as it says in 1 Peter 2:9-10: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
- Christ’s ambassador here on earth, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21: Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
- Holy and beloved, as it says in Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
- Cleansed, as it says in Hebrews 9:14: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
So on one hand I am at war with my old self. And I don’t have much to offer when I’m letting my old self get the upper hand. If I try to be liked, worthy, acceptable, and beautiful to people around me, I struggle and strive in vain. Because I’m broken! And my broken edges often wound and push people away.
But on the other hand, when I press into Christ and my identity in Him, I do have something to offer and there is something beautiful about me.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.
And people can affirm Christ in me! This is glorifying to God.
Because truly, without Christ I am not a pretty picture. But with His Holy Spirit within me, radiant things spring forth! The fruit of the Spirit starts blooming in my life – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
And when people affirm those qualities in me, I can rejoice without fear, knowing that God is working out this loveliness in me and it is good.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I (and you) don’t have to struggle to be liked, accepted, affirmed, and wanted. We don’t have to fear that the real us is unacceptable.
Because in Christ, the real us is beloved. Dearly loved children of God. And He will finish the work He started in us. And He has prepared good works in advance for us to do them. And the Holy Spirit does dwell within us. And we are new creations. And it is beautiful and worthy to be affirmed.
Ah. To be a child of God. To be a daughter of the Most High. To be chosen. Pursued. Adopted. Cherished. To be Christ’s representative here on earth. To be part of the Bride of Christ! To be the fragrance of Christ to those around me.
2 Corinthians 2:14-15
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
It is incredible. I don’t deserve this. These titles.
But I find myself in sweet wonder wanting to grow in those identities. And I no longer desire so desperately to be liked, and fear so deeply being rejected, but I long for people to see and affirm God in me.
And I have this faith that as I keep growing in the Lord and living in His Word and walking by the Spirit, they will and they do.
And this is an identity I don’t have to fear losing because it is Christ doing the work in me. I can rejoice when people say I’m kind or sweet or wise or steady because this is the Spirit within me. This is God’s work in me. Glory be to His name! He is worthy! He is good! He is faithful.
How rich and sweet it is to belong to Jesus Christ and to His Church.
So, dear brother or sister in Christ, do not fear being unwanted. Recognize your identity in Christ. Recognize the Spirit’s work in your life. Press into the Lover of your soul and delight to spread the beautiful fragrance of Christ wherever you go. ❤
My pastor recommended a book to me called “Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God” by Sam Crabtree and it talks a lot about the idea of affirming the character of God in others and wanting to be affirmed in Christ. It’s been an amazing read so far and I highly recommend!
Walk forth in grace, dear readers!