Worrying the Days Away Day 4: Our Common Burden
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10, ESV)
Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. (2 Corinthians 10:12, ESV)
We all care about the opinions of others. You can argue with me until you’re blue in the face, but in the end, there are people, whether it be one or a thousand, whose opinion can sway your decision-making. As a kid, I was outwardly apathetic about the opinions of others. I was going to dress how I wanted, like what I wanted to, and do what I wanted, without anyone forcing me. I put on a mask of apathy, but inwardly I was weighed down by others’ opinions. While I genuinely did not care much about the opinions of my peers at school, I was burdened by the opinions of my family members and close church friends. I never felt like I could really be good enough for anyone, all the while just wanting to be myself. Maybe you’ve felt the same way. Maybe you’ve made decisions you aren’t proud of because of the opinions of others, or maybe you’ve always marched to the beat of your own drum but felt unwelcome by the world around you. We’ve all been there, but the question is, Why?
Why do other people’s opinions carry so much weight? The simple answer is acceptance. We all want to feel loved, chosen, wanted, and accepted by our peers. We all crave a sense of unity and oneness with like-minded people, and because of this we are willing to compromise our own beliefs or desires to feel accepted. Our social circles paint a picture of a cool, desirable person, and we seek to maintain this status in order to feel welcome in our relative environment. This “ideal” may look different, depending on your environment: in some parts of the country it is desirable to listen to country music, while in others it is considered blasphemy! But whether you’re dressed in cowboy boots or the newest Air Jordans, your goal is the same: to be accepted among your peers. The opinions of our peers and family members can bog us down as they drive our career aspirations, fashion choices, music taste, and more. When we let the opinions of others rule our lives, it only escalates our level of worry.
Whose opinion really matters? Once again, the answer is obvious: God’s. Just as Paul tells us in Galatians, when we seek the approval of man, we are not acting as a servant of Christ. If your desire is to be welcomed and accepted in the world around you, your life will be filled with disappointment and misery. When we seek the approval of God, we may not be accepted in this world, but we can be certain that the reward waiting for us in heaven far outweighs the approval of this world. Releasing the desire for man’s approval leaves much more room to grow and flourish in Christ.
How do we free ourselves of the burden of others’ opinions? Letting go can be hard. Turning away from the desire to fit in among the people of the world is not easy, but it is possible through Christ. Seek God’s approval first and you will find people with a common goal. Even if you don’t have the same interests or personality types, you can still feel welcomed and unified among God’s people because you have the most important thing in common: Him.
My challenge to you today is to let go. Start the process of refocusing your attention onto the desires of God and not of man. Remember that no matter who you are or what you’ve done, you are always welcomed by God when you turn to Him. He alone makes us feel loved, chosen, welcomed, and accepted.