Let’s be real for a minute and admit that we all want attention. That we all desire to have someone pat us on the back for something we’ve said or done. We all want to be recognized as valuable and important.
But we can’t carry around a sign asking for approval. And we certainly don’t want to beg for it:
So what is one to do? And how do we deal with?
I know I struggle with this. Sometimes daily. Recently I have found myself wanting someone, anyone, on Facebook to acknowledge all these articles God has given me. Just one “like”. Just one positive comment. And I get nothing. So I think that maybe if I tag someone, they will respond. Still I get nothing. So how else can I manipulate it so people will pay attention to what I have to say?
And wham! God gets my attention, and I am convicted of pride. I realize that a part of me needed to have human interaction to feel important and maybe wise. I had to call into question my actions and the reasons behind them. Why did it matter? Why was it important to get that one “like”?
So I had to stop and evaluate – who is it really all about? Paul says this in Galatians 1:10 – For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
Is it about me getting attention, or is it about God flowing through me to refine me?
And I humbly realize that God isn’t using these writings for other people or to put me in any type of public spotlight. God is using this blog to talk to me through my gift of writing. He knows if I sit down and begin typing, there’s a lot He can say to me and teach me. And He can tie it all together with His Word. And yes, I have learned a lot. I have had to reconsider a lot of my actions and how I respond to people.
So why do I expect people to praise me for it?
At this point, I am also honest enough to admit that even though my love language isn’t words of affirmation, sometimes I am having a horrible day and just need someone to say I’m OK. To agree with me that I’m not the most horrible, terrible, lost, unredeemable person in the world. Don’t we all need this sometimes? Don’t we need someone to say we matter? It’s part of our make-up as human beings to belong and be needed, to be connected. And part of connection is acceptance. How can it be wrong to want to be affirmed?
God says it’s all a matter of the heart.
- Proverbs 4:23 – Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.
- Matthew 6:19-21 – 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- Matthew 12:33-35 – 33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
- Matthew 15:18-19 – 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
- Mark 11:22-24 – 22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have
We have a heart problem when we need an “atta boy” or “job well done” from our fellow man to validate us. God tells us in Matthew 6:2 that we already have our reward (Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.).
So then I have to stop and ask a mature question: Why?
- Why do I want his/her/their approval?
- Why do I need him/her/them to tell me I’m a good person?
- Why do I need him/her/them to validate advice I’ve given?
It’s a valid question, and it’s where we need to start when trying to figure it all out. Whose opinion matters most to you – God’s or man?
People don’t need to pay attention to you. They don’t know your heart, anyway. The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart, and God wants to deal with your heart.
Not getting the attention you want? Go to God. Let Him refocus your attention to a more eternal purpose and perspective.
Not getting the acclaim you want? Go to God. Let Him point out the baby’s laugh you heard when doing nursery at church or the stranger’s returned smile on the street. You make a difference in a hundred different ways each day that you don’t realize. And know that all things are seen and rewarded by God in His way and timing.
Not getting the fame you want? Go to God. Let Him show you the loving family and friends He has provided you. You are a star in your inner circle, created and placed to shine His light brightly to all who enter your sphere.
And where I am on the journey? I go to God. And I am still walking, still growing, still learning. One day, one curve, one lesson at a time. Last night I had a friend question my motives. I had responded to her questions via text and got a one-word reply of “thanks”. Can I live with only “thanks”? Yes. Can I be happy with only “thanks”? Yes. But I jokingly texted about getting only a one word response, and she hit me right between the eyes by asking why I needed more than one word. Do I need more than one word? No. Do I need the details about what is happening? No. Do I need to know I had a significant impact on her situation? No. Do I need to know if my words were on point or missed the mark? No. I don’t need any of these things. But do I want to know I made an impact? Honestly, yes. A piece of me wants to know I was good, to be validated for my words of wisdom. And that’s the humanity in me coming out. That’s the piece that cries out “pay attention to me” by telling me I’m OK.
It’s always a matter of the heart, the part of us that needs to become more Christ-like. Jesus didn’t do anything for show-and-tell. He didn’t want to draw tremendous attention to Himself. He wanted to walk out His purpose to teach people the truth about the Father, to show us we are all significant in God’s eyes, and to give a walking example of God’s love. And I realize that when I am asking (demanding) that people pay attention to me, I am not following any of the examples Christ gave. Attention focuses on and draws people to me; compassion focuses on and draws people to Him. Which person do you want to be?
I can give up the need for approval. I can walk away from the spotlight and limelight. I can stop needing and sometimes begging for people’s approval. I can realize how far I’ve come with God and see how far I still have to go, being willing to change as He calls me to. Can you? Can we all agree that a life lived saying “pay attention to Him” is so much better and more fulfilled? Are you with me on the journey to look at Him and draw the attention to Him? Let’s resolve to live our lives so “that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). Let’s walk together!
Marie Fremin, 11/2/14