I met Ash earlier this year through my sister-in-love, Lily. Ash oozes love and understanding like no other. Besides being a CrossFit fan, she works in the Red Light District of Thailand and actively seeks justice for women by exploiting the sex trade.
This piece relates to all of us because we cannot deny that from time to time we seek approval. Buckle in, you’re going to be challenged. – Sera
Definition of approval addiction: “Our human need for bonding goes a little haywire. This is especially true when you continuously look to others for approval, even to the point of becoming addicted to what other people think about you. Approval addiction is defined as an intense desire to win the approval of those around you and to avoid feelings of rejection at all costs.” – Perfectknow.com
In our hearts and our heads, we are usually facing some form of battle. An internal struggle if you will. After weeks, months and possibly even years of processing and trying to figure it all out, what I have learnt, and am attempting to rest in is that it all comes down to love. When I use this word, I don’t mean to use it lightly. If we truly understood the importance of love and especially God’s love for us I believe the problems and emotions we fight with, that emptiness that can drown us, would be overcome.
Where do you find your approval?
My battle and my enemy has taken up too much space in my life. I have come to a place where God is telling me He desires for me to move forward but to do this I need to deal with the distractions that are holding me back.
This subtle little enemy that likes to creep up on me is called “Approval Addiction”. Yes, it is real and my gosh can it be destructive. This is an issue that I have struggled with for years and for years it has tried to hold me back and can I tell you something? it is exhausting and quite frankly, it’s a sin. It’s a sin because it places other people’s opinions of me higher than God’s opinion of me.
If we fully understood how wide and how deep the Fathers love is, our souls would be beaming, we would shout it from the rooftops and I am almost certain that it would annihilate the concept of fear. As a result, we would walk so boldly into the person that we were created to be.
I am in a season where God is speaking big things over my life, I have been asking Him for a lot and asking that none of this fall outside of His will and so far He has blessed me.
Like every journey we navigate through in life, at some point along the way a mountain will slam so aggressively in front us that it seems almost impossible to pass through. How do we react when we find out that God has placed those giants in our pathway? I have come to believe that He does this because He knows we have come to a place in our lives where we are more than ready to tear down those giants.
“Being ready does not warrant that it will be an easy journey.”
Where do you source your strength from?
It is imperative to remember who we stand with. We do not tackle these road blocks alone. We move forward with the strength of a king. Our strength comes from God. We must remember that He did not bring us this far in our journey just to drop us. That problem that we’ve been dealing with, that credit card bill, a broken marriage, lack of self-esteem, this is but a speck in the water for God. That being said, He wants it gone. He wants it to be eradicated from our lives so we can fulfill our purpose that He set for us from the beginning of time.
Looking at the definition of approval addiction, you can clearly see how this would become an issue. It’s dangerous for our heart and our souls. As God’s word is a gift to us to meditate over, I felt so blessed and challenged when He spoke this verse over me “Am I trying to win the approval of human beings or of God?”.
“If I were still trying to please people I would not be a servant of Christ.”
– Galatians 1:10
Check yourself (and those around you)…
If we are not settled in our identity as children of God then what are we choosing to believe? what are we conforming to? what are our souls thirsty for? I can testify to the fact that nothing will ever quench that thirst if we are living for the approval of other people.
What happens when a bout of criticism comes our way? what happens to our hearts then? it becomes one giant emotional roller-coaster and it is beyond exhausting. Imagine a situation where a dream has been birthed in your heart, a dream that has been put their especially for you to activate.
Are we only to pursue that dream if the people around us validate it?
What happens if God so clearly gives you go ahead but the peers around you mock you and claim your dream is worthless?
Rejection is the root…
Rejection is the root that buries deep within these situations. Many have experienced this from the moment they were brought into this world, others throughout their childhood and most experience the hideous pain of rejection when they approach their adult lives. Toxic relationships are a breeding ground for fear of rejection leading onwards to approval addiction, it’s a trap that many of us fall into, we then become fearful to ever confront or disagree when problems arise.We lack the ability to stand up for ourselves or to express the dream that is buried deep in our hearts.
Would we have this fear if we understood God’s love for us? He wants to see us flourish and He wants us to feel joy, joy at the person we are becoming, joy at the things He has called us to. No matter what we do His love has no limits. How does this even begin to compare to human approval?.
All of us are on the same level of humanity, we are all broken and we certainly all have faults so why do we give people the authority to define our worth. Somewhere along the line something got mixed up that was never intended for us.
You and I have been graced with weaknesses but it tends to be that these are the areas in which God uses us most. We are so focused on letting everyone around us tear us down that we miss God’s purpose.
“But he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness, therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest in me”.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9
This verse astounds me. It’s fair to say that Paul hit the nail on the head. He knew where his identity was placed. He was so confident in God’s love for him that he learned to embrace his weaknesses because when we hand these weaknesses over to God and not to the world, God can do amazing things through them and then can bless the people around him, more than you could ever begin to comprehend. Give them to the world and it will tear you apart. Don’t allow the world to define you.
In a world where social media is ever evolving, now more than ever are we seeking our worth from the wrong sources. There is nothing inherently wrong with social media but how we react to it and how much we let it speak in our lives therein lies the problem.
I am on a journey like the rest of us, it means I couldn’t be any further from perfect but every day I wake up it is imperative that I spend time with my Creator, that void must be filled by Him otherwise I will let unhealthy habits filter in. That space was only ever meant for God. Many of us are chasing after things that will validate us, that could be toxic relationships, sex, drugs, excessive alcohol or food. Whatever that thing is we are using, it will not suffice. God is waiting for us to open our hearts and let him speak life, love and joy into them.
My name is Ashleigh, a former Personal Trainer and avid weightlifting and CrossFit fan. I moved to Thailand 18 months ago to work with Nightlight, an organisation which seeks to rescue and restore woman that have been negatively impacted by the commercial sex industry.
I am passionate about seeking justice for women who have been exploited and have a heart to see women journey into the person God has called them to be. I currently work at CityLight Coffee which is a fruitful business employing and empowering woman whom have left the sex trade. It is placed in the centre of the Red-light District.
I have a real desire to help women to know the strength and beauty of their body and to walk in love and dignity.