During a long and difficult season of healing from the deep cuts of stained glass, a dear pastor suggested I find a way to overcome being a pleaser if I was going to continue God’s call on my life to minister to children and families. A pleaser is a person who tries hard to make people happy or to make people like them. Was it that obvious? Of course it was. I wore that status like a pair of glasses. It was my lens when I began my call to ministry. Had Dawn Owens’ book Like Me Or Not: Overcoming Approval Addiction been published 15 years ago, it probably wouldn’t have taken me so long to be on this side of a struggle I’ll deal with my whole life. “Most of us are addicted to approval, but not everyone knows it.” (pg 9)
An approval addict’s wounds go deep and can be slow to heal because of the number of times we scratch them open. For many, the wounds have left scars we don’t want others to see. But scars fade and even disappear in the light of the wonderful gift Jesus gave us when He decided to choose the approval of God over the approval of man. When we do the same, our scars become so insignificant to us that we no longer realize they are there. (p 10)
Like Me Or Not is a raw book. Dawn Owens goes down trails I would typically avoid. Yet, she hits the nail on the head often. In each chapter Dawn addresses areas of everyday when we find ourselves dependent on the approval of others rather than focusing on the approval of God. She writes of insecurities, putting ‘me’ where God belongs in my focus, the lie of self-justification, social media, the individual choice to be angry or offended, rejection, comparison, and being a control freak. Community, not comparison is how we show the world our Savior is alive and lives within us. (pg 125)
In every instance she points us to the scriptures where we find God’s heart, the perfect vocabulary necessary to learn the truth of who we truly are and whose we truly are. She writes of forward-moving steps to overcoming the addiction to people-pleasing by realizing who the enemy is, reminding myself who I belong to, recognizing the guilt and shame I’ve ever felt is not from God, and this is the kicker: forgiveness comes when I realize the person who hurt me or ignited my insecurities did so out of their own wounds. The walking wounded. Hmmm…
There probably aren’t any surprises in the text when you’re on the other side of approval addiction, but when it’s YOU, and you’re in the midst of a bad case of it, the practical responses to renewing our minds to seek to please the Lord are very helpful. She’s right for what it’ll take. It’ll take discipline and patience and trust in the one who speaks, “Beloved” to your soul. Study and pray the scriptures. Fast from those things which encourage you to be conformed to the approval of others. Quit talking to other people about your decisions going instead to God in prayer. Take a true Sabbath. This and more is what it took for me. I have a stack of index cards with the scriptures which helped me turn the corner and wait on the Lord. If I don’t hear “Beloved”, even in my self-talk, it’s not of the Lord.
Dawn’s personal stories are real and she points us to Christ throughout. I’m grateful for her book and suggest anyone in ministry with others (is there any other ministry?) to pick up a copy. As a matter of fact, I’ve got one to share. Let me know by a comment below and I’ll announce the winner next week.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5