for the applause.

Being a teenage girl in this generation is getting more difficult with every passing day. Furthermore, being a teenage Christian girl is more of a challenge than I ever imagined as the 3rd grader who thought she had her faith figured out when she could recite the books of the Old Testament effortlessly. I could go on and on about the pressures of society, lethal capacity of social media, and constant competition between teens that makes living this life so difficult. But the standout killer that is absolutely taking us girls captive is the approval addiction. We love to be loved. We crave acceptance. We would rather be accepted than be righteous.

We are people-pleasers.

I talk about this a lot, because I hate it. I despise the idea that we must search (in others) for affirmation of how valuable we are, when we have already been given that affirmation by the one who created us. It only makes sense that the maker decides the worth of the one he loved enough to knit together.

I write this post because I’m at a time in my life in where it can become hard not to become wrapped up in myself and in how I appear in others’ eyes. Homecoming court festivities, two fall sports, and senior events as a whole have changed the atmosphere. I’m sure we could all use our own special upward nudge…a moment to stop and think, “Who am I doing this for?” It’s all been so much fun, but this time of reflection is a self-reevaluation in which I pray God,  free me from the prison that is people-pleasing and take hold of my heart.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 // On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.

To search for acceptance elsewhere is bondage. “Running in circles inside of a prison…”

“Applause is captivating, and before you know it, applause can take you captive, because when you live for the acceptance of the crowd, you wind up in a very crowded prison.”-Rick Atchley

Keep trying to reach that desired level of acceptance. Sure, go ahead and try it. But you will fail. You’ll fall hard and it will hurt, because from the ground you will find that asking other broken people to make you feel better about your brokenness is a waste of life, and you will never win. Circles. But beyond the bruises (compromised character, shaken faith, pride) there will be healing, when you humbly see that freedom comes from letting an audience of one decide who you are to be.

The concept of an audience of one plays a major role in the way we serve as Christians.

Matthew 6:1-4 // “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

When I’m serving someone, it’s not about me and what I’M doing, because I’m only here to serve men, not please them. When I post or talk about how I served someone, doesn’t that take away from the wholesome joy that we are to receive from being the hands & feet of Jesus? Rather than serving to please the Lord, I’m actually serving myself by longing for the applause of men.

This is not to say that sharing a picture of your experience at the latest service project was sinful, or that your conversation with someone about your summer mission trip was prideful. Before you post, it’s always safe to ask “Why am I posting this?” When you honestly reflect upon your tweets, photos, wall posts, etc, what were your motives? In the conversations that you engage in with others, are you seeking to elevate yourself or enhance God’s providence?

Again, it’s not about us. So why keep doing these things to lift ourselves up by the standards of this temporary world? Jesus gave the glory to his heavenly father, serving in complete humility and unconditional love. We often make the act of service about us, and from there, convince ourselves that we deserve a specific type of treatment/behavior from those we’re “sacrificing our precious time and effort to reach out to”. We have it all wrong.

Unfriendly people make loving and serving hard, but we’re called to do it anyway. Arrogant people make loving and serving hard, but we’re called to do it anyway. Manipulative people make loving and serving hard, but we’re called to do it anyway. Regardless of the heart or attitude of the person you’re serving, serve. That is the boundless love of Jesus Christ. When you experience that, the treatment you think you deserve does not matter any longer, and what other people think of you, good or bad, does not either. Let us be reflections of that love.

“If you forget my name, please remember my Jesus.”

4 Replies to “for the applause.”

  1. Beautiful!! The Lord Jesus has blessed you with great wisdom!! I am 74 and I applaud your faith and the strength to obey Jesus! You have deeply blessed me! Stay in His presence and in His Word! He has won the victory for us! Thank You, dear one! In His love, strength, peace, joy………a sister in Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maddie, this is a beautiful and insightful post. You have a gift from God that I know you will use as you continue to grow, thank you for sharing!


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