I want to address some fairly common situations which those of us who have left a church group (such as the meetings) might face and how to better deal with them through insight, prayer and the strength and comfort of Scripture.
I am sure I’m not the only one who has ducked behind something or into another aisle in the store after seeing people from the old church, to avoid a confrontation with them. And I just didn’t want them seeing me.
Why on earth would I feel this way? Why would I react this way? These were once my people. I have struggled with this for years, by the way.
At first, I believe the reason to hide was because I didn’t want them to see how I looked now. (Looking totally different than I did as part the church under their strict dress code.) I knew they would not approve at all of how I looked and would be disappointed and judge me and/or be hurt that I had chosen such. I didn’t want to see their pitying glances or the sadness in their eyes. I didn’t want to be confronted with the confusion, disappointment or sadness I may have caused them because of my choices. And the smugness of a few.
But still, I wanted their approval, even though I was the one who had left and changed, I wanted their approval but I knew I no longer had it. And that was painful and hard to face.
In the church we sang the hymn, “Approved of God, what more could we desire?” Well, the approval of others that’s what. It’s very real and feeds a person’s insecurities enormously. But another hymn in that group states a very real truth I found out: “Honor from men is but a passing show.” When I left I discovered who my real friends were and who weren’t. It was painful seeing some ‘drop me’ when I still reached out to them. I found out I was loved by some because of the ‘office’ I held in that group, not because of who I am.
Truth is; it’s easier often to have God’s approval
than the approval of others.
But you know what also happened? As the approval of others faded and all but disappeared, the approval of God became more tangible, available and possible. Truth is; it’s easier often to have God’s approval than the approval of others. I had a serious talk with God about this matter, to find out why the approval of others meant so much to me. God took their approval away from me for a reason. Staying in this group because of fear of what others would think or say if you left, is not being honest with yourself or God.
Also, let me state clearly that I have been very guilty of judging them. Big time. I now pray OFTEN to cease from judging them and pray that they would cease from judging me. Neither side wins in judging. I never want to have any hint of a spirit of arrogance or pride around them but also not to have a spirit of fear.
Oh God, why are we still trying to win the approval of others more than You? May we let go of needing and/or wanting their approval in order to feel secure or safe because, like Your Word says, if we are still trying to please others, we will not be a servant of Christ. It’s not a sin to have others approval but it sure puts us in bondage to seek it. Help us to always keep loving our friends and family from our old church and cease from trying to please them because we have found, by Your Grace, it’s truly easier to obtain Your approval than it is theirs. Help us, Father, to never be ashamed of the liberty and freedom we now have in Christ because we truly have been set free. You said to Jeremiah to ‘not be afraid of them for You are with us and You will rescue us’. Your Word also assures us that it is Your Perfect Love that will cast out our fear. We thank you for that and cling to Your promises now more than ever before because they are SURE and STEADFAST.