Applause Addiction

10:50 AMHeather

I found myself tied up in knots recently.  Fretting over how my actions and words had been perceived.  What did that person think?  I thought I caught a disapproving glance.  Was I viewed as inferior or off base in my actions?  What was the opinion formed by the other person about me?  I realized that my emotional frenzy was basically summed up with one deep visceral need of mine.  

Approval.  Acceptance.  Belonging.  I've recently blogged about belonging.  Based on the response to that post, I'm not alone in this struggle.  

I believe with great conviction that we are living in an unprecedented era in our current culture, thanks to technology and social media.  Never before have we, as approval hungry people, had more means to seek approval.  And not only means to seek approval, but avenues to do so with instant gratification.  

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I can get caught up with incessantly checking the number of likes on my Facebook status or when I post my blog.  When I put a photo on Instagram, I love seeing so many likes that the number merely shows up rather than the names.  Lest Pinterest feel left out of the approval party, let's consider what Pinterest is all about.  

Finding clothes, decorations, party ideas, recipes, and home decor that are sure to please a crowd and elevate our ranking as Super Woman of the Year. In other words, creating a Pinterest worthy life full of Pinterest worthy moments.

Simply put, we have an applause addiction.  We spend our down time watching reality shows where we can phone in our approval to see our favorite contestant rise to the top.  Average joes can audition and be discovered and have their fifteen minutes of fame on national television.

You Tube sensations wrack up applause with the number of page views.  Any old person, in our modern culture, has a million ways to scratch the itch for approval.  We seek it in the clothes we wear, the hairstyle we choose, the fitness level we achieve, the way we decorate our homes, the activities that we participate in, the activities in which our children are involved, and yes, most definitely, even within the church.   

It's not that man's need for approval is some new fangled thing.  It's an age old dilemma.  It's an inherent need, in fact.  It's just that this need has been elevated to new heights in our rather comfortable and easy and modern society.  In other words, I see it as an epidemic offshoot of First World Problems.  

And in my quest these days for a richer, deeper faith with all impossible walls to freedom crumbled and demolished, I clearly see that my applause addiction is top of the list of things that have to go.  Or rather, things that must be so completely transformed that it is unrecognizable.  

No, we don't need to REMOVE our applause addiction.  We need to MOVE it.  We need to choose to invest ourselves in the unseen eternal and release our worries and insecurities about the here and now.

Yet at the same time, many even among the leaders believed in Him.  But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue, for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
John 12:42-43

Do you know what I see in this passage?  The difference between a complacent faith and hum-ho life and a radical faith focused on remarkable missional living is whose praise we crave.  Men's praise?  Or God's?  Do we settle in like chameleons to our culture and even within our churches so that we can be applauded by man?   Or are we daring enough to throw off any second thought to what fickle men think in our all out pursuit to gain the applause of our Creator?  To run our races with such passion and such boldness and determination that we can cross the finish line into heaven, red faced and out of breath as our Heavenly Father says, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

I know the answer for myself.  As I've begun praying more and more frequently for God to show me HOW to dig deeper, live more meaningfully, throw off all sins and hindrances that entangle me...this applause addiction is key.  In fact, I believe that if I can settle the question of whose applause I seek, then my life will be transformed and unrecognizable.  

Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  I believe this with absolute conviction and a surety that I rarely have the courage to claim.  IF we believe that God is real and we desire His praise more than the praise of men, then our lives will explode in a radical, transforming way.  Our faith will take root as never before.  Not a stale, status quo faith.  But a faith that says I will do what He asks, go where He says, love extravagantly, extend incredible grace and run this race with a fierceness that I've never experienced.  Because the chains of man's approval will be cut off of me.  And I will realize that seeking the approval of man is one of the biggest impossible walls in my pursuit of freedom and the Promised Land of abundant living.  

What if I channeled my energy into reading the Word and looking at a memory verse to commit it to memory instead of checking Facebook?  What if I cared more about how the Lord approved my words and my actions than the people around me? 

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

What if I paid more attention, all day long, to the motivations within me? What if I asked God to reveal all the ways that I seek man's approval rather than His?  And I was willing to ask Him to change my not remove my applause addiction altogether, but rather to move my applause addiction so that I spend my energy seeking His praise and His approval, for the glory of His name?  

As I've mulled this over all morning, I've come to a stunning conclusion.  As I've already stated,  I've realized that surrendering my need for approval to be met by God alone is one of the biggest impossible walls to freedom that needs to crumble.  Here's the second part.  I've been asking the Lord to help me be like Mary.  Sitting at His feet.  Brought to a place of shattering her most precious alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume in a stunning display of extravagant worship.  I've asked dozens of times in the last couple of weeks for God to help me shatter whatever it is that I'm hanging on to that feels to pricey to offer Him.

Today's revelation holds the key.  You see, for Mary to shatter that jar and pull down her hair and wipe Jesus' feet with it was to throw off all of society's expectations and norms.  She was throwing off the approval of man to seek the approval of God.  She was willing to look past what man might think in order to please her Savior. No concern for breaking the rules or hearing the reproach of even Jesus' disciples in her extravagant worship.

Applause addiction.  I believe that God wired us to live out our lives in search of approval.  The difference is whose approval we seek.  The approval of subjective, fickle man, which binds us constantly in elaborate tap dances for applause.  Or the approval of our Creator who delights in our fellowship and desires our surrender.  Who affirms us throughout Scripture and challenges us to be good stewards of this life we've been given.  So that we can rest in His arms at the end, knowing He is well pleased. 

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