I think by typing (or talking) and I got to the real point yday at the very end of my blog, when I said, “Who am I trying to please? How do I unplug myself from the desire to please myself (because approval-seeking behavior ultimately is about pleasing myself) and let go to please God alone?”
CS Lewis differentiated between self-denial and the denial of self (aka humility) when he compared the latter to a state where one could design and build the most beautiful building the world, know it to be the best, and feel exactly the same pleasure in that building as if it t’were the work of someone else’s hands.
I’m not there. Sometimes, if I make something really awesome I can get close – because you know if I make something with errors I hyperfocus on those and am (like half the other crafters I know) really annoying about pointing them out. When I make a beautiful garment and am praised on it and refrain from saying, “I made it!” I count it a win – but really it’s not a true win until I stop *wanting* to say, “I made it!”
I want praise. There, I said it. I don’t think that’s totally a bad thing, so long as it’s in its place, so don’t take this like I’m talking to you unless the Holy Spirit pokes you with this, k? I speak for myself. Ordo Amoris.
I can so easily slide from the humility of child-like pleasure in being told that I’ve done well into actively seeking for praise. Who is to give me praise? Well, someone human. If not my husband (poor husband, puts up with me saying, “Look! I made pretty!” ) then someone I know, or someone online… or even, if I really have to go there, myself.
So, why am I not seeking God’s praise? As Sis said in the comments yday, God is pleased with quality craftsmanship. Is it that I associate “good enough for God” with absolute perfection? I should… if it involves anything for His church. But sometimes, in private life, “good enough for God” is my effort, and my process. You don’t start out with straight seams… is God displeased that you’re learning to sew? Does He frown at you until it’s perfect?
How do you tell that you’ve pleased God? That’s one of my issues. I listen for that still voice but mostly I hear my own voice, especially when I’m tired, or emotionally needy.* I read His Word every day … I *do* know what’s kosher and what isn’t. So I can say, “this will have pleased God” but how does that translate into feeling it?
I don’t know. But I have a theory… I have a theory that if I start like a child, not seeking approval as my identity, but am humble and honest and transparent and stop trying to be such a grownup about everything… I think that might be a faster route to the simplicity of living in the approval of God than trying to *pretend* that I don’t care. Eventually I want to get to the place where my work is to me as the work of others is to me – but you know, sometimes I’m gobstopped by the work that other people do, aren’t you?
Wonder is an incredible gift.
Pretending = lying. Lying = sin. Lying = hypocrisy.
I’m going to strip off as much of the “stuff” that adults throw on to their desire to please and be as honest as I can, and hope that in that honesty, in that nakedness of soul, that I eventually switch my approval seeking to God and not to man.