The Approval That Renders The Incredible Freedom Of Not Being Self-Conscious

rolling on grass

Ok, so here it is: I’ve always loved grass.

The green, luscious stuff that God has laid on the ground, that covers the fields and carpets the hills. My favourite colour is green. I even had the walls in our house painted a shade of lush green to remind me of that fresh, comfortable feeling.

In the equatorial tropics we don’t get grass that is nice and dry and relatively bug-free to sit on comfortably, so whenever I travel to drier, more temperate climates I’d be sure to find a nice patch of grass to sit or lie on.

One time when we were in the UK at LEGOLAND I spotted a nice grassy slope just by the space rockets, and a little Indian boy was rolling happily down while his father stood watching. I stopped and turned breathlessly to TJ, exclaiming, “I’ve always wanted to do that!”

He paused, eyes shifting warily. “Er…you mean you want to do it now? Here?”

And that was that. My brimming excitement melted into uncertainty and concern over the fact that we were in a theme park and there might be people watching. Sensing my hesitation, TJ tried to switch to being encouraging, but it was too late. I struggled between my inner child yearning to roll with reckless abandon down that slope and my sensibility of maintaining the propriety and semblance of a mature adult, and hemmed and hawed for a good 15 minutes before I took one quick and cautious roll down.

Opinions. Popular view. Crowd approval. I don’t like to admit it, but more often than not I am held hostage by what others might think. I’m not sure if you can identify.

We might not show it outwardly, but deep down inside we will always know how much others’ opinions and comments truly affect us. Long after the dust has settled and things have moved on, that person’s comment stays and replays in our mind for a long time.

This overriding concern doesn’t just stop at the people around us, it extends to the greater society we belong to. It seeps subconsciously into our decisions and even governs the details of our everyday life: how we speak in public, how we dress, the phone we carry, what we feed our kids, the suburb we choose to live in, the car we choose to buy. Certainly, there will be other perfectly legitimate reasons for our choices, but if we stopped to analyse further we may find that others’ opinion may turn up consistently as a factor.

Why are we so bothered by what others think? I’ve heard it said that we spend all our time, money, thoughts and effort to impress people who more likely than not don’t really care beyond passing that casual comment.

The sad truth is, we tend to tie what people think of us to how we feel about ourselves. As we go from being an innocent, carefree child to awkward adolescent and finally into adulthood, our self-worth and value increasingly cleaves to what the society regards as normal, what our friends consider cool, what our family and relatives deem appropriate. We were made to crave approval.

Yes, we were built to feed on approval. But there’s only one approval that won’t leave us chasing to keep up and thirsting for more. And it’s not the approval of mere mortals, but the approval of the Everlasting and Unchanging God.

The thing is, we can never be completely perfect. Only Jesus is perfect. He is God, after all. He was the only perfect Man who walked sinless all His life on earth. Today, when we accept Jesus, God puts us in Jesus, and from that moment on He sees us only in Jesus. Regardless. Of. How. We. Perform.

While I know that some may have immediate concerns about how morally wrong and dangerous the above statement sounds, we do not have room to go more deeply into that in this post – suffice to say that God will not put us and see us eternally in Christ without being fully aware of all the effects it would have on us. He’s far wiser and more all-knowing than we think.

When we realise that the Almighty God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth and the richest and most powerful being in the Universe, sees us perfect in His Son and loves us like He loves Jesus always, the opinions and approval of others will begin to fade away and drop off like dried up stickers.

When we have the assured love and affirmation of the greatest being of all, why then would we need to be preoccupied with others’?

Friends and family are nice, but they are not always around and they may not always see things from our point of view. God sees our point of view, and still loves us anyway. Only God’s unchanging love will cast out all fear.

So the next time I spy a grassy slope and give in to my childish urge, it’d do me well to remember that it’s not important who might be laughing at me, but my heavenly Father is surely laughing with me.

I want to live free. You can, too. Jesus promises freedom.

Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.

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