“Man lives by affirmation even more than he does by bread.” — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Galatians 1:10
Acts 5:2-32
John 12:37-50 (esp. 43)

I hate wedding receptions. I feel awkward, and the main reason is this: people won’t come right out and tell me how great I am. They won’t tell me how good-looking I am, how pleased they are at my presence, or how the party would feel terribly boring without me.

All they’d need to say is, “The bridesmaids are fighting over you.”

But they don’t say this, I rarely have a date, and I never feel certain about my clothes or my presence. It’s rough going.

So what? So, you are my addiction. I crave your acceptance and affirmation. I realize that my strokes should come from God, and that people’s adulation is fleeting. Yet I’ll be happy if I can get just a little more praise.

Men and women often serve as glory prostitutes for us. Yet some people derive their identity from God. This sort of affirmation stands in sharp contrast to shallow human praise. It is more like marriage. In it, we must learn to listen, to trust and to find our security in God.

Sociologist, Charles Horton Cooley, said we view ourselves through the eyes of others. He called it “the looking-glass self.” 

We struggle to present ourselves to others to be accepted, affirmed or adored. We become slaves to our perceptions of their perceptions . We toil for the praise of peers in our field, the people we date, the accomplishments of our children, our studies, our appearances, and on and on.

What if we looked for God’s affirmation? He sees us through a looking glass of compassion and mercy, even delight.

For a moment we believe this view. Occasionally, we feel it. But to believe it — and to put it into action — doesn’t come easy. Especially when the goods on the street come so cheap.

Why live a life to please God when men and women and children can praise us so soon, so immediately? We can hear them. We feel their affirmation, even if we do have to tend to appearances to keep the praise coming.

Why wait to hear from a God we can’t see? Why indeed? Because prostitutes offer something cheap that mimics love for a moment, but can’t and won’t satisfy. Prostitutes don’t offer love. Only the lover who offers life can give love.

Whose affirmation do you seek?  Any person in particular? Why?
Does it ever feel exhausting thinking about someone’s opinion?
What do scriptures say God thinks of us?  What pleases him?


© 2006