In the book of Romans, Paul makes an addict's confession. He writes in his letter, "I don't get it. What I want to do, I don't. Instead, I do what I don't want to do and I hate it." (Romans 7:15 - paraphrased by me)
Why is that the confession of an addict? Addiction consume's the mind, the will. Have you ever seen the expression of a gambling addict repetitively pulling the lever of a slot machine? They're not enjoying their time in the casino. There's a bucket list of things they'd rather be doing, They don't want to be wasting their money on a machine that will never spit out more than what was put in, yet they're there taking one more pull after another waiting to become the next big winner.
I get Paul's struggle because I've lived through it. No, I don't need to check myself into rehab. My addictions are more limited to Mt Dew and bacon. I'm a musicophile with a craving for more music (the playlist that I listen to while writing could play for 11 days without any repeats).
Please don't let that admission cheapen the struggles of other addicts. My best friend in high school was an alcoholic. I've had friends whose battle with addiction ended in suicide, but I also have friends who overcame their drug addiction and are now thriving. My wife and I served for a year in my uncle's church where he ministered to people in recovery - people who were desperately trying to put their lives back together. I know how hard it is to defeat a chemical dependence.
All kidding about soda and my preference in pork products aside, I'm still an addict - but not in the manner you might expect. I'm addicted to validation. I want people to like me. I want people to tell me I'm awesome. When that happens, when people recognize that my existence is appreciated or that my job has been well done, it's almost like a drug. But the crash is bitter. When my efforts go unnoticed. When my mistakes are under a spotlight. When I'm rejected, or criticized. I just want to hide. I want nothing more than to be noticed again.
That's a disastrous cycle. No matter how hard I try, at some point, I will fail. I'll disappoint, I'll let people down. Despite my greatest efforts, some things will go unnoticed or unappreciated. Some successes will go uncelebrated.
So I end up doing things that I don't want to do and not doing the things I want. I'm not as good of a father as I want to be. I'm not as good of a husband as I want to be. I don't write as often as I should. And no matter how badly I want to do the things needed to be a better dad/husband or write more, I do something different.
There are support groups for all sorts of addictions. Gambling, pornography, drugs, alcohol. But an addiction to human approval? Am I the only one who struggles with this?
Here's what I do know. I know that I'm not perfect and I know my imperfections don't matter. I know the approval I seek is ultimately irrelevant to my worth as a person. I know that if I am to live second, I should heed another admission of Paul's: "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10)
Note: I am blogging this week in support of the Live Second book release. Live Second is a year long study from Doug Bender and the I Am Second team. Struggles is the sixth week and covers topics like forgiveness and addiction.
You can find the book HERE or HERE. If you purchase the book this week (12/9-12/15) and email your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org you can receive $150 worth of free downloads including two webinars with author Doug Bender.
For more on I Am Second, check out their site.