NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Approval

As I was spending some time with Jesus this morning, I realized that I have an idol in my heart. And it’s easy to think it’s not a bad idol, everyone needs it. But that’s the thing about idols. Often times they are good things, but we take them too far, we put them up on a pedestal, and think if I only had that, then everything would be great. Or if it gets taken away, we are crushed. I actually read a great book about this years ago, called “Counterfeit Gods” by Timothy Keller. It’s a great way to help recognize the idols in your own life.

Anyway, back to this morning. I was thinking about a time recently when my feelings had gotten hurt. And I was trying to figure out why it hurt so much. I felt like usually things don’t bother me and I wanted to know why this did. The more I thought about it, I realized what I really crave is other’s approval. Whether it was in school and I tried to do everything right to do well in a class, or at work trying to finish all my assignments well, or even with friends trying to be available and ready to meet their needs. In all of these situations I wanted to be liked, to be approved of. I love getting sweet notes of encouragement or thank yous. Though I don’t want it to be in front of a lot of people. I’d rather it be personal than put on display for others.

But at the end of the day, what I really want is people to like me, to approve of me. And this, like many idols, is a good thing. I think wanting other’s approval is pretty normal for most humans. And in some ways it helps us think about others not just ourselves and be aware of how we treat others. But it can be taken too far. You can do too much, just trying to get people to like you, and you can be crushed when someone just doesn’t like you.

So after some prayer with Jesus, I think I have an idol in this area that He needs to help me overcome. Because ultimately, I should not be seeking other’s approval. I should not be ruled by ‘what will they think of me.’ Instead I should seek to live God’s way, and please Him, even if other people don’t approve. I should find that need for approval filled by Jesus, who loved me and gave Himself for me and doesn’t expect me to earn His favor.

So anyway, that’s what I’ve been learning today and thought I’d share.

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The Idol of Marriage

I’m a single lady and I’ve gotten all the questions about when are you going to get married, is there anyone you like, etc. I’m sure there’s some single guys out there who can relate as well. But I was thinking about it the other night and I just got kind of sick of how our culture views marriage, so I decided to write this blog post.

Our culture has set up marriage as this huge goal for life. All of these movies and books and TV shows have marriage and romance as the goal. People pick up on this and eventually relatives and friends begin to assume that you can’t be happy till you’re married, or in a romantic relationship. And it’s not that I don’t want to be married someday. I would love that. But I also know that anything, even a good thing like marriage, is not supposed to be what we base our life on. It can’t fulfill my desire for happiness any more than money or a successful career can.

And as I’ve seen more and more of my friends getting married, I can see it’s true for everyone. Marriage is a good thing and there is a lot of blessing and happiness in it. But there is also a lot of hardship and frustration. One person cannot make you happy all of the time, even if they try really hard. And the “happily ever after” fairy tale is a lie. Life is hard, and so is marriage and often times it involves deep hurts, disagreements, hard situations and working through that is tough. It’s even tougher if you’ve built up marriage into a myth and idol to strive for that will somehow make you happy and fulfilled. Even though I’m not married I can confidently say marriage cannot make you happy. Because nothing in this life will. The only thing, the only One who can is God. Nothing can replace Him. He is where we get meaning, fulfillment, happiness, joy, peace, love and everything good from.

So no, I’m not married. And I honestly don’t know if I will ever be married on this earth. But that doesn’t mean I am unhappy or unfulfilled, or even sad. Sure there’s a part of me that would still like to be married and might be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. But it’s not what my life is all about, and I won’t be crushed if it never happens. Because I do have God, and I love Him with all my heart and soul. And He loves me more than I can imagine, and better than a husband ever could.

So, sorry for the rant. But I’m sick of this culture pushing marriage on everyone as the only way to be happy. Because it’s not the only way, and it really isn’t a way at all. Without God, nothing will satisfy you, not even marriage. So if you’re married, congratulations, and I hope you enjoy it but remember to look for your ultimate satisfaction in Christ. And if you’re not, please don’t set all your hopes and dreams on finding that one special guy or girl. No one can fulfill your life like that. Only God can.

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Christmastime is Here

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Everywhere you look, Christmas is there. The familiar tunes blare on the radio and in the stores you see the wintry themes and special deals. You’ve probably run into a few Santa’s by now, either taking pictures with children or ringing bells, or just figurines set up all over the place. Lights are decorating the parks, houses, streets and storefronts. The smell of pine needles may be filling your home, either from a real tree or a nice candle. And then there’s all the things to do: parties, shopping, baking, decorating, and whatever else the holidays bring.

I’ve noticed that my old blog post about what Christmas is about has gotten quite a few views even though it’s a very old post. When this time of years rolls around, it’s easy to get caught up in the hubbub and then wonder, wait, why am I even doing all this?

And that’s an important question. Why are you buying gifts? Why are you going to that party? Why are you decorating? What’s so important about Christmas?

My pastor talked last week about how Christmas has become an idol in our culture. We put all of this pressure on ourselves to have a “Perfect Christmas” and think that it will solve all our problems. So we try to get the perfect gifts for others, and give hints to our family and friends of what we really want. We spend all this money and time on doing things and most of the time, we just wear ourselves out. If that’s what Christmas is all about, it’s no wonder so many people get depressed around the holidays. It’s impossible to have a perfect Christmas. There’s always something that went wrong, something you never got around to doing, or something you had to say no to because you can’t say yes to everything.

But this year, God has been teaching me something about my heart. I’ve known the lies of consumerism and materialism and commercialism: Get More and You’ll be Happy. I know that isn’t true. But I’ve still bought into the habits. I feel a pressure to buy people gifts, even if they don’t really want what I’m giving them. I’ve started making lists of what I want for Christmas each year. And each year I just end up with more things that I can’t even remember who gave them to me.

So, after reading a radical book about decreasing called “7” by Jen Hatmaker. I decided that this December, I’d try my own kind of reduction. Instead of feeding the consumerism desires in my heart, I’m looking for ways to give. And not by going out and buying things to give away, but sorting through the things I already have and finding ones to let go of. I’ve already cleared through my bookshelf and stuffed animal collection. And boy things look a lot less cluttered. But more than that, I’ve started noticing places where I can give and finding joy in actually doing it. It’s not one more thing I need to do, one more thing I need to buy. It’s letting go of what I already have, what really belongs to God anyway and seeing someone else enjoy it. It’s so freeing.

So this year, I’m trying my best to give the way God has given, even when it hurts, and find joy in the true reason for the season: Jesus Christ who gave His perfect life for me.

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