Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved to be liked – or more truthfully, loved to be loved. She loved to think that she was meaningful and important to those around her – she loved to feed off of their affirmations and compliments.
As this little girl got older, this infatuation with being well-liked did not leave her, but she grew wiser about how it was manifested. She knew that no one likes a stuck-up, self-important brat, so she learned how to deflect others’ praise with a downcast eye and a humble smile all while inwardly soaking it up. Because the more humble and kind you are, the more well-liked you are, correct?
And if you want to earn man’s praise and attention, you can’t go actively seeking it, otherwise it will be obvious that you desire it – and no one will want to give it to you.
Oh, yes. She knew the system well. And her subtle manipulations of it gave her exactly what she wanted – consciously or subconsciously.
Yet as we all know, such plans and manipulations don’t work forever. And such motivations will eventually be revealed, for their true nature can’t hide forever.
And that is precisely what happened.
Because the day that she “suddenly” appeared to turn into a monster, it wasn’t “sudden” at all. The monster had always been there beneath the surface, neatly disguised as a sweet and well-liked little girl. Until the day he could be caged no longer.
And when that monster of anger came bubbling forth from her, one very well might have asked, “Where did that come from??”
I’ll tell you where that came from.
It came from years of expecting people to like her. It came from hundreds of moments where she curried favor with others which trained her mind to believe that all should favor her. It came from a “need” to be appreciated by those around her. It came from a place of entitlement and “deserving” more respect.
Because when you think that way and believe those things about yourself, of course you will be angry when you are not liked or respected or appreciated.
And the instant the thought crosses your mind or the emotion rises in your heart, “How dare they not treat me better than that?!” you have revealed the monster of idolatry in your heart.
The idolatry of your self-importance.
You have believed all those wonderful accolades that have been lavished upon you your whole life – and perhaps they are true. But you put all your identity and worth in those accolades instead of in the truth of who you are in Christ.
The well-liked little girl openly professed her love for Christ and her commitment to following Him. Because isn’t that the best way to get people to like you? To show how spiritual you are?
But what about openly professing the fact that she struggled with sin? That she was in desperate need of a Savior because she couldn’t save herself? That she was weak and vulnerable and helpless without Christ alone?
What about simply being obedient in silence – without a Facebook post, an Instagram picture, or a comment to her Bible study group – because God cares more about her heart than her outward displays of spirituality?
What about doing something for someone else specifically so that they didn’t know who did it?
What about letting go of facades and masks and being 100% truthful about the years of pride stored up in her heart of hearts?
What about admitting that she was so much more like the self-righteous Pharisee than the anguished sinner beating on his chest?
Who would do such a thing? Wouldn’t that cause people to like her less?
Or maybe what the well-liked little girl needs to learn is that it is far more important to be humble before God than to be liked by hundreds of people at church, at work, and on Facebook.
Maybe what she needs to know more than anything is that her identity cannot be in the quickly fading compliments of others – because such an identity is easily destroyed when the compliments are gone.
Her identity needs to be in the perfect redemption of Christ.
He died to rescue her starving-for-attention soul – so that she could made new in Him and find a higher purpose for her life – the purpose of putting Christ on display instead of herself.
Because every fear and every desire is met in the blessed satisfaction of belonging to Christ Jesus.
And when we rest our weary souls searching for love and good standing from others in Him, the others soon don’t matter anymore. They can like us or dislike us, they can approve of us or disapprove of us – it doesn’t matter.
All that matters is that Jesus has said, “I have given them the glory that You gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and You in Me.” (John 17:22-23).
If we are given the same kind of unity with Christ that He shares with His Father, then we need nothing else. Everything else pales in comparison – it seems ridiculously small in its worth.
And the monster inside that well-liked little girl can be slain by truths such as these – the anger can be dissolved because whether or not those around her give her respect and love, she is forever loved by her Father.
And no one can take away that love or separate her from Him.
It is eternal security – wrapping her in forever arms of love – giving her infinite hope and courage for every new day.