2.25.07 from xgcw….disapproval

standing up against disapproval is one of the most difficult things to do when we are “good christian women.” disapproval from others somehow means that we are not doing a good enough job, we must be doing something “wrong”, and that rocking the boat in any way, shape, or form is somehow “bad.” it is interesting that for some confident people, it’s no big deal to let down others. they are able to have balance and clarity and see a situation for what it is. me, on the other hand, i am immature in this area of my life. immediately, if someone disapproves of me, is angry with me, frustrated with me, i always think that somehow i must be “wrong” and should quickly adjust. it is really ridiculous when i think about it, there is absolutely no way that i can constantly keep everyone’s approval. it is way too hard of a job. yet, God knows i have tried. and i have found it nothing but tiring. now with 5 kids that are getting older and all have “needs’ and pastoring a church with real people whose needs are big, keeping up with this is literally impossible.

i believe God is healing me through this process of realizing how much of who i am is wrapped up in how people view me, not just far away people who aren’t in my close circle, but also those closest to me, in my immediate family. sometimes i want to do something that my family doesn’t want to do. sometimes i believe in something different from other people. sometimes i make mistakes. sometimes i don’t agree with a decision that Jose makes. sometimes i make decisions that he doesn’t like. sometimes i want to do something just for me and not feel guilty about it. sometimes i drive my coworkers crazy with my wacky obsession with little details that are important to me but not to them. sometimes i just can’t pull off what someone wants me to do. sometimes i am trying to respond in a healthy way and it doesn’t go down too well.

and i am trying to learn it’s okay to live with other’s disapproval. in fact, it is good and healthy and biblical, too. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians says, “who are you trying to please, God or men?” this is where the good christian woman thing gets all twisted up. we have been subtly or directly programmed to believe that we are “good” when we put our needs aside for other people. yes, humility and self-sacrifice are a few of Jesus’ most important callings for us. but did he really mean that we need to put all of our needs aside and be chameleons, able to adjust to what everyone else wants so they’re not mad at us? no, i think God wants us to live like grown up women, who know what they want and what they need. this means that sometimes we give up what we want for the sake of others, but it is not because we feel like we will lose their love or approval if we don’t—it’s because it’s the right thing for us to do in the moment. sometimes we do what we need to do to take care of ourselves and other people will have to pick up the slack for us (and we’ll let them). i am learning that i am responsible for my own thoughts, feelings and actions, and others are responsible for theirs. i have spent way too much time trying to manage theirs instead of taking proper care of mine. a big part of our healing is learning to listen to God, not men. not the messed up part that the church or our experiences taught us, but to learn about Jesus’ true heart for us—that we would learn to listen to His real voice, His calling for us to be courageous and willing to live instead of hide, to be able to stand up against other’s disapproval and live with it because we have His.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

5 Comments

  • You know…I love the blogs where you talk about you, and how you are learning and growing in this crazy place called life. It’s an encouragement to me that others struggle with these same issues.

    One serious problem in my marriage was that I didn’t stand up for myself. When I didn’t think my husband was being fair, I expected others to stand up for me. They were likely thinking “why does she put up with that”. That’s one thing I’ve come to recognize since my divorce. My feelings are mine, and I am allowed to have them. Someone else can feel completely different about it, and it’s okay for them to have their own feelings. I can’t control others feelings and I can’t let others control mine.

    Really good stuff kathy.

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  • This is really great. Can I ask, where are you with this now? Maybe I’ll find a post on this later on…I’m trying to read through in order. Just wondering whether it’s getting easier now a couple of years from when you wrote this.

    Reply
  • blueorchid – yes it’s getting easier. a lot easier actually. maybe too easy? hahah. no, really, though, something has definitely been shifting over the past few years and some of these things don’t feel quite as strong. it doesn’t mean the feeling isn’t there. i have a reflex for disapproval & shame, but to me healing is when the distance it carries us and how long it lingers gets shorter and shorter. thanks for reading and i hope it makes you feel less alone.

    Reply
  • Thank you for these thoughts….the phrase “I’m immature in this area of life” really helped me…I too am learning that I am responsible for me and others are responsible for themselves. It takes some retraining doesn’t it?!

    Reply

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