This post is the beginning of a short story I began writing last month which chronicles my own journey from Approval Addiction and suffering from low self-esteem to Biblical Maturity. The complete introduction can be found here and the plan is to send a new part (usually one to two pages) each week. Its my prayer that my story can encourage others who struggle with this emotional addiction.
Because of Who He is,
Chapter One: Unanswered Questions
Steven groaned as the alarm clocks loud buzzing informed him that his forty-five minute afternoon nap was over. Slowly he walked to the other side of the room, turned it off, and fell back on the bed exhausted, which was surprising considering the fact that he hadn’t done anything that day. Of course those beloved naps were used to escape emotional exhaustion instead of physical.
“It shouldn’t be this way” Steve said to himself as he finally rolled out of bed, “I have a great life with loving parents, a job, and good friends. So why does I feel so discouraged all the time?” He tried to forget that question while brushing his teeth; partly because the thought that God was being unfair bothered him, but more because he knew the answer that question. He was looking right at it in the mirror to be exact. Few people grow up saying “I want to be out of shape, unhappy, introverted, and living with my parents at the age of thirty-three.”
Of course that hadn’t always been true, in High School and College he was one of the most popular students. People loved his sense of humor and ability to entertain them with jokes, stories, or one of his famous comedy skits which didn’t even have to funny because people would start laughing before he even started. Steve had always dwelled on those memories but he had been thinking about them more than usual lately….during College he envisioned having a large family, house and steady job, but instead he was pouring a glass of Pepsi in his parents kitchen.
It wasn’t that Steven was not grateful for his parents allowing him to live there. The job washing dishes at a local restaurant could have paid the rent for a small apartment but that would take almost everything he had. So Bill and Mary Adams allowed their son to stay at the house asking him to pay less than half of the amount normally required for rent. There was no doubt that living in a house with money was better than being broke in a small cramped apartment, and besides that wasn’t the real source of his frustration.
Truthfully many people don’t achieved lifes goals by their mid thirties, a number die without ever actually doing so. No the root of that discouragement was in being different from most other people his age. All his friends from high school and College were now either engaged, or married with children of their own instead of living with their parents.
Of course none of Stevens friends looked down on him because he was single but there was still an incredibly strong desire to be like everyone else, to be normal. “Normal” Steve said to himself while grabbing a leather bag on the way out the door, “who defines what normal is anyways?” Actually he knew the answer to that question as well. Society and culture defines what would be viewed as “normal” or average activity using media such as movies, television, and music.
Unconsciously most teens buy into the American Dream of having a big family and living in a large home with two new cars in the garage before graduating from High School. And of course that meant not achieving the dream becomes a soul crushing defeat. For Steve that meant believing he could never achieve those goals and basically giving up on them.
There was actually still a part of him that wanted to pursue those dreams which had never been realized, start dating again, get a better job and move out on his own. But no sooner would those desires arise than Steven buried them under a mountain of excuses and emotional dirt. Why don’t I pursue those desires instead of just covering them up” he thought to himself while merging onto the highway and immediately shook his head with regret. Another question that Steve knew the answer to all too well and another he avoided because its answer brought way too much pain……
For help with answering these questions, or learning more about ministry to Approval Addicts I would suggest reading When God is Big and Man is Small by Dr. Ed Welch or Pleasing People: How not to be an “Approval Junkie” by Lou Priolo