Do you want to be accepted by the people around you? Do you have a desire to be loved and valued? Congratulations! You are a human being. Or a very intelligent dog who has learned how to read. In that case, double congratulations!
I’ve heard it said, the only people who don’t care what other people think about them are sociopaths. That may seem bold but I think there is truth in that statement. Whether we admit it or not, most of us will do a lot to fit in.
Take for example, fashion trends. You can’t tell me the first reaction of most guys in the 60’s when they saw bell-bottom jeans was, “Wow! Now there’s the kind of jeans I’ve been dreaming of wearing my entire life!” Did men in the 70’s put on those polyester suits and say, “I am so comfortable! Why didn’t someone come up with this material sooner?”
I lived through the 80’s and 90’s. There was one summer when the cool trend was wearing boxers as shorts. Does that seem a little odd to me now? Ummm, yeah! How about all the flannel I owned in the 90’s? Was I preparing to be a lumberjack?
Fashion is just one of the ways that we try to fit in and gain acceptance of others. It can take on a myriad of other forms like the music we listen to, our academic excellence, work performance, the size of our house, how well our kids behave…the list goes on and on.
So how should we respond? Do we try to reach a state of enlightenment where we don’t care about acceptance anymore? I don’t think that is a healthy way to live either.
Although the image of the lone cowboy on a western prairie is an American icon, my guess is you wouldn’t want to talk to that guy after he hasn’t had interaction with anyone else for a year. His horse has probably convinced him of some pretty crazy stuff.
It feels vulnerable to admit that I care what other people think of me. It’s true. I want to be accepted and loved for who I am. Despite how awkward that is to say, I don’t think that desire is a negative thing. It becomes an issue when that yearning takes control of my life.
Acceptance from other people is like a can of Pringles. Each chip tastes really good but it doesn’t leave you satisfied. “Just one more” you say to yourself. Before you know it, all the chips are gone but the craving hasn’t left.
True validation can only come from a place beyond ourselves. We were created to experience community with other people AND God.
That’s one of the reasons I love the message of Christianity. Our acceptance isn’t based off what we do, it’s based off what Jesus has done.
When I let that truth sink in deeply in my soul, it brings a contentment I can’t get anywhere else.