I was fifteen, standing in line at the door of my history class waiting anxiously for the bell to ring. Of course the girl who had no ability to be kind or respectful, yet was very popular (I'm sure for that very reason), was standing right by me. The cool sandals at the time were Dr. Martens. It seemed like EVERYONE had a pair, yet I knew there was no way my mom would spend a hundred bucks on a pair nor did I have the nerve to even ask. But my mom did buy me some Colorado sandals, that looked almost identical, but for half the price.
Are you all keeping up with the shoe story so far?
I was so excited to wear them to school that day and actually had received a ton of compliments on them before the history class. As I was standing there, Ms. Popular looks down and sees my shoes and in her total coolness that defined her she said, "Where did you get those? Goodwill?" She laughed and the girls who followed her mindlessly snickered along with her. I was so hurt. All of the compliments were erased from my mind and filled with the six words of that girl.
Oh, but the story gets better.
The next day I found myself lined up at the door again waiting anxiously for the bell to ring. And of course Ms. Popular was standing right by me. I looked down at her shoes and much to my surprise, she was wearing the same shoes I had on the day before. The avoider of conflict that I tend to be went right out of the window and I looked at her and said, "Where did you get those shoes *@#$" Not my most Christ like moment in my life, but I felt justified. I never cussed so it was a huge deal that I "stood up" to her - however, she spoke like a sailor so it had no effect on her.
That moment, obviously, has stuck with me for 14 years. Melissa, move on already. But here's the thing...
Don't we want people to like us? Every person wants to be accepted and liked - whether or not we admit it. I think some of us are just more comfortable with the reality that not every single person likes us more than others. Those people tend to be the confident, go getters, because they aren't paralyzed by the "what if's" of acceptance that so many people are paralyzed by. But even those people, yes even those people, still want people to like them.
When I was doing public speaking and traveling with the company talking to parents of drug addicted teens I met so many parents that were "people pleasers." They parented from the need to be liked and accepted by their children. I didn't understand in the least how monumental of an issue that was to get over back when I was nineteen, but now that I am a parent I understand it a bit more.
About two weeks ago after telling Luke that his birthday party was not going to be that day but in three more days, he declared that he hated me. I know that Luke didn't understand what that really meant, but he was frustrated and that was the only way he could communicate it. I calmly sent him to his room and with door shut, he screamed over and over again, "I hate Mommy! I hate Mommy!" I stood outside of his room hearing those words, and my heart was hurting. "Come on Melissa, he's not even four yet. You know that he doesn't get it, don't let this hurt you," I thought to myself. So, I took a deep breath and walked downstairs. I got the other three kids ready to leave, shoes tied and buckled in their car seats. Luke came downstairs where he found his shoes sitting on the step. He doesn't know how to put his own shoes on yet and was very angry that I didn't put his shoes on for him. He ran to the car where the four of us were all waiting for him. He asked me, with tears in his eyes why I didn't put his shoes on. I didn't respond. He climbed into his car seat and waited for me to buckle him in. I didn't. He began to scream, "Buckle me in! You need to buckle me in!" I didn't respond. He walked to the front of the van with tears streaming down his face and asked me why I wasn't buckling him in. As calmly as I have ever spoken, I looked at him and said, "You told me you hated me. God says that when we say we hate someone, we are really saying that we wish they were dead. If I wasn't alive, you would have to buckle your own seat belt." I could see on his face my words penetrating his little four year old heart. He said, "I'm sorry Mama. I don't want you to be sick, I don't want you to not be alive. I love you. I don't hate you, I'm sorry for saying those bad words." And he proceeded to fall into my arms and we hugged for about two minutes. Those ten minutes drained me emotionally - and I'm sure that moment will stay seared in my memory much longer than 14 years.
But really, who do we need approval from? Our friends? Our family? Our kids? Our spouses? People we don't even know? Sometimes we can get so caught up in other people's approval, that we forget whose approval really matters. In Galatians 1:10 it says, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."
This verse has been at the forefront of my mind this week as I started the page for this blog. I even saw on Facebook where people started liking "I'm not feeling very happy today. Please 'like' me so I can feel better about myself." Isn't that so true?! I know that not everyone is going to like me, and not everyone is going to agree with my blog and what I write often times - but I am going to write what I feel is true and right and what I believe God has laid on my heart to write about, regardless of what people might think or if they will like me after they read it. Because in the end, God's approval of me is what truly matters., and God's approval of you is what should matter to you in the grand scheme of it all.
Since that incident with the shoes 14 years ago, I have owned quite a few pairs of Dr. Martens - and surprisingly, no one has really complimented me on them. And even more shocking, people's opinions on my shoes don't matter to me anymore. And I'm learning, to the best of my ability to adopt the statement spoken by my friend Lisa Whittle, "Like me or not, I just pray that you cannot deny the presence of God in my life." Slowly but surely I will get there...