Jul 17, 2014

Do you like me?

July Reading: Psalm 1-31 {Read a Psalm a day}
July Memory Chunk: Psalm 1:1-3
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.
The Lord has been nudging me to tell this story for a while. I've been wrestling with Him over it. Of course, in the end, He wins. So, here goes.
In the Fall of 1992, I was crowned homecoming queen at my high school in Conyers, Georgia.
I remember when they called my name, I looked around, wondering where Jill Allgood was.
My sweet daddy said, "Jill, it's YOU! You are the one they are about to crown!"
What? I was overwhelmed with disbelief.
When they put the sparkly crown on the top of my hair sprayed head, I remember thinking, "This is the GREATEST moment in my life! Nothing will ever compare to this day!"
How wrong I was.
For many, many years after that day, I spent my life trying to be everyone's homecoming queen.
In fact, some of my nearest and dearest friends will lovingly tease me and call me "HQ".
I polished that crown for many years thinking that I had to life my life living up to that crown. It became an idol. Not the crown itself, but the life behind the crown.
The people pleasing girl, the sweet girl, the do-anything-to-be-liked girl, the craving affirmation girl...you know...THAT girl.
For a very long time, I didn't know who I really was. I became who everyone "wanted" me to be. I fit whatever role made them happy, in almost all of my relationships.
If you know what I'm talking about, then you know it's a dizzying cocktail of self-love and self-hate.
I loved myself when I became what I thought others wanted me to be. On the other hand, I hated myself for becoming what I thought others wanted me to be.
When Facebook made it's debut several years ago, it was like a drug for an affirmation queen like myself. It fed every ounce of my desire to be "liked", noticed, and "followed". I could not get enough of the affirmation that it gave.
Birthdays were my favorite. I would read every word, over and over. Always making sure to comment back on the well wishes. Yes, people pleasing to the millionth degree.
In 2012, the same year, God brought SHINE girls to life, He also started the process of refining and pruning me in this affirmation area. God knew it had to go, I knew it had to go. However, I didn't know if I could live without the affirmation from others.
I remember telling the Lord, "God, it's just who I am. Please don't change me. People like this about me."
As soon as those last 5 words came out of my mouth, I knew the depth and the breadth of this paralyzing disease of people pleasing. I mean, I had spoken the words myself.
My life had revolved around the drug of affirmation and the desire to be liked.
God was ready to wean me. He had better things for me. Like His affirmation, and His alone.
In June of 2012, I deactivated my Facebook account. It's sad that I still know the month and day. It was like a death. A death that I didn't ask for.
I mourned the loss. You probably think I am crazy, but it's true.
I was lonely.
I was sad.
I was depressed.
I was unnoticed.
Who would I share my family pictures with? Who would I tell all the cute and funny things my kids said to? Who would I tell all those great status quotes to? Who would I encourage with God's scriptures and share His goodness with? Where would I go when a needed a big shot of affirmation and likes?  And for Heaven's sake, who would ever remember my birthday??
My Heavenly Father, that's Who.
It has been a long and painful process of weaning. I have felt every thorn that has had to be pulled from my affirmation craving heart.
However, which each thorn, it gets easier and easier for me to truly trust Him and lean into Him for my affirmation.
Throughout this process, we have had countless quiet times together. Just He and I. My time with Him became more special, because somehow it wasn't as rushed. He became my first priority for the very first time.
My desire to be liked, noticed,  and sought after, was fulfilled in the purest and most beautiful way. By the Lord Himself.
He has filled most of these holes. I still have a ways to go, but I am so much closer than I was two years ago.
I still have the tendency to look to others for approval, however, I now know the other side. I know the peace that comes with surrendering to Him in this area. Laying my flesh down, as He breathes affirmation into my weary spirit.
It still gets lonely some days. Even with all of you, and this incredible ministry that He has laid in my lap, my flesh still can get lonely. I crave connection and communication with others.
When this happens, I try to remember to go to Him first. Seek connection with Him above anything or anyone else.  
Then, I might  make a phone call, send a text, interact with my children, sit next to my husband on the couch as he watches ESPN, send a letter to a friend, ask a friend over for coffee....
I have tasted {after much wresting}the fruit of surrender and obedience, and it is the sweetest thing you have ever laid your mouth on.
My prayer is that by telling my story, even the ugly parts, you draw closer to Him on your journey. Maybe your journey is different, maybe it's strikingly similar.
Whatever the case, I pray He speaks to your heart.
I am not in any way advocating logging off of Facebook, or logging on to Facebook. I am only sincerely advocating guarding our hearts before we do.
We must never find our value or our worth in anything other than God Himself.  
Say a prayer before logging onto social media. Ask the Lord to guard your heart from any kind of  jealousy, need for approval or likes, criticism, comparisons, or anything else that will rob the joy right out of your beating little heart.
I can say this, because I lived it, friends. I know the great things that can happen on those sites, and I know the heartaches that can stem from those sites.
Guard those hearts with God's Truth.
"Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life."  Proverbs 4:23
"but in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord" 1 Peter 3:15
Limit your time on those sites. I would spend so much time browsing my phone, refreshing it for updates. My daughter actually said to me at one point, "Mommy, do you love Facebook more than me?" Yikes.
God has better for us, friends. So much better.
Yes, we can be blessed by an encouraging status update, but nothing takes the place of Him speaking directly to us. We don't need others to translate His Voice. He will speak right to our hearts if we put Him first. Who wants leftovers of His Word when we can have the main course with Him, day after day. We need to put away our phones, our computers, our Ipads, and communicate with the One who desires us most.
 Oh the things He will tell us! Oh the things He will show us!
"Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heard, that I may fear your name." Psalm 86:11
taking off my crown,
jill