Kids all over the U.S. are heading back to school and right now the question resonating on all of their hearts is, “Momma, will they like me?”
As parents and guardians, we surely can relate to this feeling.
Every time we take a new job, we attend a meeting for the first time, a new small group, or even a new volunteer opportunity.
We wonder just as our children do, will they like me?
So, if we struggle with the same question. How can we help our children in making that adjustment back to school?
6 Tips to Help Your Children Make New Friends
Affirm their feelings. Let’s face it, making new friends is scary. Letting them know their feelings are okay can be encouraging and affirming to them. They’ll know they are not alone.
Remind them this is not the first time they are making new friends. I ran into this question with my child as he was starting camp this summer. When I reminded him this was not the first time he was making new friends he realized if he was successful once before and he can do it again. This gave him the confidence and reassurance that he needed in being open to meeting new people.
Tell them who they are. Your child has strength and abilities unique to them. Tell them who they are as unique creations made in the image of God. Gush over them about all that you know to be amazing about them. Don’t worry about their egos, at this point, they need to be built up, not torn down.
Ask them to consider the other children who are also struggling with the same idea. You can use this to encourage them to be the brave one. To go over to someone and introduce themselves or sit with the child that is sitting by themselves.
Pray with them. Take a moment and pray with them about their fears, using God’s Word as a guide to help them learn how to lean on God to overcome this hurdle. You could use Philippians 4:6-7 reminding them not to be anxious about anything but instead praying to and giving thanks to God that the God of peace that surpasses all understanding will guard their hearts in Christ Jesus. (my paraphrase)
Know who you are
This may sound a bit strange to you as a way to encourage your child. But children learn from their parents. If you are unsure of who you are then you are probably communicating that to your children. As parents, we have a responsibility to our children to be our best selves. When you don’t know who that is, it can be just as confusing to them as it is to you. My encouragement is to dig into God’s Word. We are who God says we are but we have to know what He says to know how to respond.
Children learn from their parents. If you are unsure of who you are then your children are probably confused as well.
You know that feeling: the sick to your stomach, nauseous feeling.
It’s as if all of a sudden everything ever said of you is summed up in the person’s rejection of you.
It feels personal. It is personal.
If you have felt this emotion before, you have probably got a healthy dose of fear to go with it. A fear of rejection can strangle any dream, vision, or desire in your heart.
It can keep you from the very thing that God has called you to do. All because you have a fear of rejection.
For the last few weeks, we have been talking about our need for approval. We discussed how an approval addict acts. If you are new to this, go take this quick quiz to find out how you rank.
Then we talked about people-pleasing and discovered three ways in which you can quit that habit.
Next up was insecurity and I identified the cycle we can get caught up in when we seek the approval of others allowing our insecurities to get the best of us.
Then we talked about our control issues. Oh, approval addicts can be bad about this. We like to be in control and we like to know that the outcome is going to be people’s approval of us.
And the real challenge for us approval addicts is trying to not be offended when people don’t agree with us, affirm us, or approve of us the way we want them too.
So it only makes sense that this week we start to uncover what it takes to overcome a fear of rejection.
In 2011, I was confronted with my greatest fear. Death.
A CT scan revealed a carotid body tumor that needed to be removed from my neck. More specifically, the artery on the right side of my neck.
My doctor told me that I might want to live a bit longer before it was removed because removal may cause me to “bleed out.”
Yes, he said those words.
That was the first time I was ever overwhelmed by fear.
Fear that visited me in my daydreams and woke me in terror at night.
The fear of the “what ifs” was crushing me.
After much prayer and research, God led me to another doctor who had much more experience and faith in his expertise so that I did not “bleed out.”
However the surgery was a bit more complex than they thought and after 6.5 hours, 4 units of blood, and a grafted vein from my leg to complete the artery in my neck I woke up feeling like I was drowning in my own saliva.
Fear, yet again, consumed me.
Fear is a tricky emotion in that it not only can have power over your mind, but it can affect every part of your body.
My next days, weeks, and months to come were a battle. Most of which went on in my mind, working my way through overcoming fear.
So I know fear. Fear and I were friends for way too long of a time period and unfortunately can return as an unwanted guest from time to time.
Now, couple fear with a hefty dose of rejection and you have a recipe for disaster.
Overcoming the Fear of Rejection
Early in 2010, God gave me a vision for an organization that would initiate community transformation by ministering relationally to the poor.
Cullman, AL had been my home for a few short months when God laid this vision on my heart.
Most people I shared it with were not overly excited. In fact, their responses sounded more like this:
“No way would that work. People cannot get out of poverty.”
“If that did happen here, it would not be by you, a woman, only man with substantial power would be able to do that.”
“You don’t know people here. They won’t donate to your cause if they don’t know who your kin are.”
Each of these statements felt like an arrow stinging my pride. I wanted their approval, not their rejection.
I had to make a decision, would I choose to please people or trust God instead.
Kind of like what Jesus said in John 12:42-43:
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in [Jesus]. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
The Pharisees would not openly acknowledge Jesus because they were more concerned with human praise than they were God’s.
Which is at the core of our fear of rejection.
We don’t take risks, go after dreams, or accomplish our goals because we fear being rejected by people.
We will fear man and not do what God has told us to or we will fear God and accomplish the task He set for us to do.
But we must realize that in either scenario fear will propel us.
We don’t take risks, go after dreams, or accomplish our goals because we fear being rejected by people.
I was offended. It honestly felt good. But I have learned since then three ways of how to respond differently.
Let’s criticism get this out of the way, in case you haven’t been following along throughout this series; I am an approval addict. Maybe you can relate.
It doesn’t take much for an approval addict, like me, to become offended.
You see, for those of us who profess this struggle, our need for approval can get us caught up in worrying too much about what other people think and when we do our focus is on us, rather than on God.
I mean face it, the more we want affirmation, the less we focus on the needs of others.
Which is why it’s so easy for us to get offended.
How We Become Offended
Maybe it looks something like this:
What do you mean you don’t like my shirt?
How dare you critic my article, post, paper (really doesn’t matter much what it is) I worked hard on that.
You don’t approve of my significant other, well, let me just tell you what I think about your (blank).
I mean, think about it, how many times a day, a week, or a month are you upset over some else’s lack of acceptance of something in your life.
For me, it had been frequent.
That was until someone told me something that changed the way I thought about my affirmation needs forever. In doing so, it took the focus off me and placed it right where it needed to be, on God.
Approval Addiction in Review
Before I get to that, let’s review some of the concepts we have been discussing in this series. First of all, if you have ever wondered if you have an addiction to approval, you need to go back and check out this post. It should help you answer that question.
Then we talked about our people-pleasing struggles and used the stories of Saul and David to see how our need to please others can keep us or even have us be rejected from what the Lord has called us to.
Insecurity was up next. Have you ever wondered why you feel like you get stuck in this spiral of people not responding the way you think they should, experiencing guilt and shame, taking it out on them, distancing yourself from God and then others? Before you know it you have isolated yourself and are depressed, trying to figure out how you got there.
Well, that is all because your insecurities got the best of you and you landed in a cycle of approval addiction. Don’t worry, I explain how you can break that cycle in that post.
Last week I was really vulnerable and shared how I lost control, and it was one of the hardest posts I have written so far.
You Have a Choice
So, back to that time, I was offended. Are you wondering what that something someone shared with me was and whether or not it helped?
Well, let me unpack this first.
I have struggled over the years of letting go of hurts that I felt like people have committed against me.
At times it can get me in such a tizzy, that my voice can get louder, and I have been known to get a bit passionate about my feelings on the matter.
This was one of those times, and I was telling someone I was close with about that situation.
He allowed me to voice my frustrations and when I finished with my criticisms, he said to me, very matter-of-factly, “You know Dawn, you can choose not to be offended.”
I can choose not to be offended. That had never even been considered as an option.
I mean, I thought I was entirely justified in my thinking and that my offense was only part of that justification.
Can you relate?
Well, it took me a bit to mull this concept over in my head. I thought, is that biblical? I mean, we see Jesus getting angry at the people in the temple, I mean, isn’t that, in essence, him being offended?
After some Bible searching I realized my perception was quite wrong and I figured that out after reading about Jesus in the wilderness.
Lessons from the Wilderness
You can find the story of Jesus in the wilderness in Luke 4:1-13. It’s in this story that we can all learn a thing or two about how to respond in a God-like way, rather than a me-centered approach, which only produces offenses.
In these scriptures, we hear this conversation between Jesus and the devil. The devil is trying to tempt Jesus into switching sides, taking the focus off of who He was, what He was called to, and why He was there.
But Jesus, being fully-man and fully-God, lays down rebuttals that sent the enemy packing.
In these temptations from the enemy we see three themes emerge:
the temptation to worry about your human needs (Luke 4:3)
the temptation to choose your plans and your timeline over the Father’s plans and timeline (Luke 4:4-7)
the temptation to question who you are and whether God cares, is listening, and really understands (Luke 4: 9-11)
All of these temptations make us excellent targets for the enemy to convince us that we are in control. And if we think we are in control, we have fallen prey to the lie, because as we learned a few weeks ago, only God is in control, not us.
Jesus Wasn’t Offended
So what can we learn from Jesus in these instances?
Jesus could have gotten offended by the devil. And rightly so, I mean for crying out loud he was trying to defame His father. He also could have prioritized His plans, His purposes, His desires over God. Instead of focusing only on his needs of affirmation and self-centeredness. In doing so, He would have completely derailed God’s plan of salvation for humanity.
Dare I say, that when we prioritize our plans, our purposes, and our desires over God’s we too derail God’s plan of salvation for humanity.
We get me-focused, self-absorbed, and offended by those who we think are standing in our way, and therefore, disobeying the greatest commandment to love God and love others.
It doesn’t get much more blatant than that.
If we want to be people who place our focus on God’s plans for His kingdom, we have to choose not to be offended. And in doing so, we open up our hearts to forgiveness and ultimately healing.
We need to want to know God and trust Him at His word.
And, we need to realize that His provision in His our life is much more important than someone else’s opinions.
Question: Which of the three temptations do you feel like you can relate to the most?
It didn’t happen in just a day, or a week, or even a month. Slowly but surely, over time God started to show me how tight my grip was on the things happening in my life. I was strangling His plans and it was keeping me from my future.
I have learned over the years, I have a bit of a control issue. It’s important to me that things look a certain way. Which also means, sometimes, I want people to act a certain way. Because when they do, what I ask them to do, it affirms me. Let’s me know that they approve of me, appreciate me, love me.
But that is not healthy. In the end, I hold people to unfair standards, standards that I would not even be able to meet. The only way for a control freak like me to learn how to lose control is, well, to be forced to let go.
Unfortunately for me, this happened through a series of very hard events.
Our Big Plans
Let me start off by saying, prior to this point, and well, if I am honest, even after this point needing control has been an issue. I am a professed approval addict and well, I have people-pleasing and insecurity struggles, which is why control is also an issue for me. You see if I can control my situation, I can also control whether people approve of me or not. Well, at least try to.
But this was one time I couldn’t make the circumstances work in my favor. You see, this situation was bigger than me. It’s situations like these where God can remind us exactly who is in control, Him.
About three years after we got married, I started suggesting to my husband it was time for us to have a child. I wasn’t getting younger (already over 30 at this point) and being older than him, it was time for us to try and start a family. We went before the Lord in prayer, and both agreed it was time. It wasn’t long after I found out I was pregnant. We were ecstatic. That was on a Friday and by Monday, I had miscarried our first child.
We were devastated.
We Tried Again
It took a few months to get pregnant again, but we weren’t going to give up, even though this time it felt scarier. We were nervous that we might miscarry again. But this time we made it not only through the first weekend but up to week eight. This time I was on the job training clients in Georgia when the bleeding began. At the time I lived in Cincinnati and was a long way from home. I called my doctor to find out what I needed to do. After taking a pregnancy test and seeing the line show up only slightly faded, I knew what was happening. To say I was angry was an understatement.
Thankfully I had an amazing boss, and she had me hop on a plane home. As if it was that easy.
What transpired will be an experience I will never forget. In fact, every time I walk through the Atlanta airport it brings back the memories afresh. But it was there in the bathroom stall that I lost our second baby. I could barely speak to anyone. Talking was not an option because deep sobs hung in my throat.
Somehow I made it back to our home airport where my husband waited with a car. I cried all the way home curled up in the back seat. There was a tug of war of the pain between my broken heart and my cramps.
The next weeks are still a blur because I could barely breathe. It was hard to live. I numbed my pain with books, movies, and food. I wanted nothing to do with God because I was so angry at Him. It didn’t make sense. We prayed. We asked Him for the desires of our heart. The Bible says we are to procreate, that babies are a blessing. What did we do wrong?
A few months later the church we were attending, Crossroads, had its annual Christmas Show. This isn’t a dress up the kids and coo over their costumes show, this was the real deal. Dancers, musicians, lights, snow falling from the ceiling. This show could be on Broadway and it would sell out every night.
This year they decided to take the show to a new level and have the Wise Men belay down from the ceiling. One of the performers missed their rung and fell to their death. My husband was on staff and watched the accident happen. He still can’t watch that scene or performances where the performers are hanging from ropes.
Our pastor was amazing. Instead of dealing with it quietly, even though the event made the national news, he brought the whole church together. All ten thousand of us to walk us through the grieving process. He was honest, raw, and real. In doing so, he reminded us of the story of Job. A righteous man who had done no wrong in the eyes of God but was targeted by the Devil for his righteousness. When God turned him over to Satan, he lost everything. Cattle, sheep, and most importantly children. His response?
Blessed Be The Name of the Lord
He fell down and worshipped the Lord. The Bible captures him saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21, ESV) My pastor reminded us that we are not God. His plans are above our plans, His ways above our ways. He doesn’t need to answer to us and we may not understand everything that He does. But just like Job we need to strive to be people, that no matter what our circumstances that we can say “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.”
As sad as I was for the loss of the life of the performer, anger raged in me. I thought, “Why God? Why did you have to take both of our babies? I don’t understand. Why did the teenager who didn’t even want to be pregnant get to keep hers? The drug addict? The prostitute? Surely we were better than these.”
He then had us take the person we had lost, whether it as the performer who fell only a few nights before, or someone else we were grieving and hold them in our hand. When we were ready, we were to lift our hands up in surrender and let them go. God, in His sovereignty, is in control, we are not. Our surrender reminds us of that.
As we stood there, they played Matt Redman’s song “Blessed be the Name of the Lord”.
My hardened heart began to soften. Deep down inside I loved God. I also knew that He loved me. He wasn’t trying to make a fool out of me or withholding blessings from me. He had a plan, and though I didn’t understand it, I knew it was good. It took me a bit, but looking at my husband I realized the grace I had received. I was a sinner, an adulterer, and a divorcee, and yet my God gave me an amazing man to love me and be with me all of my days.
With tears streaming down my face, I lifted my hands to heaven and with each release let my babies go. In exchange, I experienced peace and freedom.
A New Story
That was mid-December and on New Year’s Eve, on a few weeks later, we were to go out with friends. I considered celebrating with a glass of wine but decided it may be a good idea to check to see if I was pregnant just in case. The screen went from blank to pink in a matter of seconds and I knew, we were pregnant again.
Eight months later, after a rough pregnancy including Braxton-hicks and pre-eclampsia, my sweet miracle child was born at 35 weeks. Sawyer James is our pride and joy. Now eight years old and keeping us on our toes.
I learned a huge lesson that night. Trying to control God, people’s responses to my pregnancy or lack thereof was not going to change our reality. It did not define me as a wife, a mom, or a woman. It wouldn’t determine our acceptance or affirmation of our friends and family nor would it determine the pleasure of God. I am who He says I am and my identity is not based on my ability to conceive.
It wouldn't determine our acceptance or affirmation of our friends and family nor would it determine the pleasure of God. I am who He says I am and my identity is not based on my ability to conceive.…
But instead letting go and allowing Him to guide our story instead of trying to write it ourselves, made way for the family we dreamed of and the life He desires us to live.
I have had two more miscarriages since then, losing three more babies. But what I do know now, is that God, in His sovereignty knew what my future would hold. I do not have physical children to hold, but since then He has birthed a vision of community transformation and now a book that holds this story and so many more.
God is In Control
Let it go.Those expectations you have of how your husband should respond to you. Let it go. Your children will find their way into His arms. Let it go. Your work will continue on without you. None of those things define you, they certainly do not own you, and cannot determine your identity. You are who God says you are. So let it go.
Question: What do you need to let go of so God can affirm the identity He has given to you?
It doesn’t take much..someone’s side glance, that new pimple that just made its grand appearance. Or possibly realizing you shouldn’t have eaten that second cupcake this weekend, after noticing the muffin that grew above your pants.
Insecurities can grow and fester in us until they have successfully done their job of making us feel uglier, fatter, dumber, less than, or (fill in the blank) everyone else around us.
Insecurities love to feed off of each other too. Ever have one of those days or even weeks where you had a pimple pop up one day, then the next day you get a cold sore, then you see Suzie So and So with her perfect hair and nails commenting on your ‘tacky’ shirt? I mean, really, did she say that about you when her pants were bright pink and way too tight, even if she is a size 2. I mean PINK?! Really?!
They can also come in the midst of a conversation. Perhaps someone makes a comment about how you responded to a certain situation. Or maybe it was at the meeting when you decided to make a comment about how the event was being planned and you heard some whispers around you. You were sure they were talking about you.
For the last couple of weeks we have been talking about approval addiction and many of you have commented that you now realize, well, yes, I am an approval addict. I have a problem.
The first week we took a little quiz to know whether we have an approval issue, last week we chatted about people-pleasing and understood we can make some choices…be like Saul and end up rejected from our position or be like David and be named “a woman/man” after God’s own heart.
Today we are talking about feeling insecure and how this feeling can send us into a cycle that can cause destruction, all because we don’t yet know who we are. Insecurities are just another piece of the approval addiction puzzle.
Insecurities are just another piece of the #approval addiction puzzle. @dawnmarieowens
It typically begins with someone saying something that is not affirming to me. For example, someone challenges my leadership (I lead a non-profit, so it fits). They tell me what they think of a decision I made by calling into question my capabilities as a leader.
I want nothing more than to run and hide. I think, “Well, forget this, I’ll take my leadership skills somewhere that appreciates me.” Or if I feel like I really messed up, I’ll decide I am giving up leading forever.
That’s what addictions do to us; they take us to the extremes, where there is no grey.
When I return to my desk those words fester. The words run on repeat, amplifying in my head. I fight my feelings of insecurity by telling myself, “You are better than that person. Who do they think they are to point out my flaws? They have no idea what it’s like to be in my shoes, and I sure would like to see them try.”
I may make matters worse by sharing the other person’s comments to find approval elsewhere. Now my addiction yields to sin and the cycle continues.
From here it just gets worse. Distancing myself, I believe if that person thinks it, everyone does. I start to feel less peace, the guilt and shame are eating me up, and my time with God starts to lessen. Embarrassed by it all, I isolate myself.
At this point, I am far from the truth and God. Depression is sinking in and I don’t know how to get myself out.
Can you relate to this at all?
This is the approval cycle and it can all begin by someone or something making us feel insecure.
So what do we do, how do we change?
Did God Actually Say?
In the book of Genesis, we find the story of Adam and Eve. It is there we read how the first attack on humanities’ insecurities began. ?” In Genesis 3:1, ESV we walk in on the story of the serpent questioning Eve’s identity as a daughter of God.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’
Did you catch how the serpent began…“Did God actually say?”
Those four words are powerful, aren’t they? They can bring a confident person to their knees. Those words changed the trajectory of humanity.
Four words, one simple question: “Did God actually say?”
If you know the story, then you know how this ends. The question attacked Eve’s confidence in God, and it made her doubt herself, her husband, her memory, and her ability to make a decision.
The serpent in the garden called into question the perfection of God’s creation. He began by questioning Adam and Eve’s capabilities as caretakers. Today he does the same thing to us. Do we know who—and whose—we are? Are we aware of what we have been given to steward, or are we confused about our purpose? Do we understand the power within us, or do we see ourselves as powerless?
The question, “Did God actually say…?” undermines our sense of security in God.
However, you have something that Eve didn’t, the experience of her mistakes. We can take her mishaps and learn from it. Here are a few ways you can do that.
Recognize the Attack
When we are feeling insecure we, first of all, we need to realize there is an enemy, he is cunning, and he is always trying to undermine the image-bearers of God. But our enemies are not made of flesh and blood, Ephesians 6:12 tells us we wrestle “against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT).
Know Who You Are
In order to combat the attack from the enemy, we must know who we are and whose we are. It would have been great if Eve would have said, “Um, excuse me. Do you know who you are talking to? I am the Daughter of the Most High God.” But just because she didn’t, doesn’t mean we can’t. So instead of listening to the negativity, remind your attacker who you are and whose you are. As a believer in Christ Jesus, you are a daughter of God, an heir to the throne, a chosen people, a royal priesthood, He has equipped you and called you to do the good works that He has called YOU to do. You may not do it all perfectly, but you will do it in His strength and His power and by His name.
No More Guilt Trips or Shame Parties
Guilt and shame do not come from God. Did you know that? Isaiah 61:7 says “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.” So instead you can walk in His grace, rejoice in your inheritance, and receive the joy that comes from a relationship with Him.”
Combat Insecurity with Forgiveness
This is an essential piece to breaking this cycle. Forgiveness changes everything. We need to realize that on most occasions when someone says something hurtful to you it was because of their own wounds, and their own insecurities. Wounded people, wound people. But since we know they were not the ones attacking us, we need to release them by forgiving them. You also may need to ask for forgiveness from the person that you went and ran your mouth to about what was said in the first place. And you may need to seek forgiveness for yourself because you sought other things than God to fill your approval needs.
Now the next time you are feeling insecure whether, over a pimple or a person, scripture is your weapon. Remember you are a mighty warrior, a royal priesthood, a child of God. You, my friend, are from a holy nation, and you have been declared righteous and worthy in the sight of the Most High God. You are seated in heavenly places and have been given the riches according to Christ Jesus that you can tap into any time you need them. You are not defined by the words of another because God did actually say you are all of these things and so much more. You are His friend; belonging to Him. You no longer need to worry about the approval of the world, because you already are approved by God.
Question: What part of the cycle do you feel you struggle with the most and how can you combat it in the future?