Last week, I wrote about the drama club – specifically our tendency to perform for our affirmation. If people seem to like us, if they give us their applause, then we feel validated. This desire for acceptance drives most of us more than we would ever publicly admit.
Each of us exists within a greater story. In this narrative called life, I have a unique role. Nobody else can play my role, because the director has created me to perfectly fit that role. I don’t even have an understudy!
As I live out my role, I am often painfully aware of what drives me. If you ask God to reveal your motives, he will gladly show you. Just be warned - it’s not always pretty. As my motivations are revealed, they place me in one of three groups.
The first group is focused on the whole audience. The more people that applaud, the better. It’s great if my family & friends applaud from the front row, but what about the rest? What about that one guy in the back corner? The girl in the eighth row? If they don’t seem to be buying it, then I ramp up my performance. I try to be even more likeable, more deserving of the praise of everyone around me. The reality is that it will never happen. There will always be people who don’t really like me (didn’t want to admit that). There are plenty that are not that impressed. Eventually, overwhelmed with my own amazing inadequacy, I retreat to the shadows of the stage and vow I will never put myself out there again. It hurts too much.
The second group is more focused. An understanding exists that I actually perform for an Audience of One. I look past the stage lights for His face alone. I live my life to hear His applause. This is as it should be. Where it becomes insidious is when I believe that His applause equates to acceptance. I fear that He might not want to be around me. If I don’t do well enough, he may lose interest. This drives me to desperation. I become obsessed with my performance instead of obsessed with God. When I explained these two groups to a woman last week, her response was authentic.
“I am probably in the second group, but I am so afraid that he will not want me that I flee to the first group.”
A third group exists that is worth studying. This group looks to the Audience of One as well, but is not desperate. I know that He already accepts me and there is nothing I can do about it. I know He intently watches my performance, not because He is assessing my worth, but because He has already counted me worthy. If you have watched one of your own children in a performance, you know. There may be 100 people in the show, but she is the reason you are there. You did not show up to see if you loved her. You were enjoying the performance because you loved her. God is relishing my performance as if I am the only one on stage, because He loves me deeply. Do you know this is true of you? Do you feel His passion? When I begin to understand this, I can move from striving for His love to living for His pleasure.