Peers, Praise, and People Pleasing…….

We’ve all heard it, “But Mom, every one else has them.”

How do you explain to your child that you really don’t care if everyone else gets the most expensive brand of clothing, and you won’t be buying those for her?

Public school can be cruel for girls wanting and needing affirmation. Not all of them can have perfect blonde hair, be a cheerleader, and wear Victoria’s Secret. And how to explain to my daughters that it’s perfectly okay, and they should reach out to lonely people on the fringes more than prance the halls with the hottest girls.

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As a thirty nine year old mother, I’ve been around the block a few times and I flat out don’t care about that shallow stuff. Sure, I love looking nice and having friends—but I don’t need name brand clothing and the most popular people to want to hang out with me.

The snap chats with shallow selfies weary me but they can grab our teen aged daughters with power that astonishes me. I’m not sure how under heaven vanity and shallow talk makes its rounds through thousands of followers, but it does, and can eat up hours of time.

Give me an authentic, real person any day. He or she can be eighty years old or ten years old, it doesn’t matter. Just let me see the real deal.

Perhaps that’s why I love tractors, barns, and mountains. Dirt and hay are the real deal. But, I also love Ulta, Bare Minerals, and LemonGrass Spa. Life can be a combination, like today when I ran around painting bathroom counter tops and smudged up walls before showering and having Starbucks with my sister.

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It’s not that we have to choose one type of person over the other; its that we get to choose all people in the name of love and humility.

It shouldn’t matter whether a person is popular or not, outwardly beautiful or not, what he or she does for work, or how many friends they have. Because get this—none of that matters to Jesus and He absolutely loves every single person on the planet long before they made any cultural advances or work status.

My sister who travels the world working in refugee camps, rescuing trafficked women, writing, and speaking is weary of the status platform people place her on. I see her face as she tells me of the friend who says, “I’m behind you now, and I won’t catch up.”

But what is there for her friend to “catch up” on? Absolutely nothing!

Jesus doesn’t operate with that mentality. He cares about whether or not we love Him.

You can’t catch up on how much you love Jesus because I don’t think that’s even a thing. Nothing else matters to God and it shouldn’t matter to you either. Because if you really love Jesus, you will put him first, obey him, surrender to him, trust him. He will cover you before and behind, lead you to all things good, and surround you with peace and purpose.

What more could a human want?

Get this, girls—we don’t need to be popular as much as we need to be prayerful.

We don’t need affirmation as much as we need to affirm our identity in Christ.

We don’t need human followers as much as we need to follow an eternal God.

It’s not fair to put anyone on a pedastool,” my sister says quietly. “It alienates people from each other.”

I nod my head. She’s right. It’s unfair to others, to ourselves, and it robs Jesus of his rightful place. Wasn’t it Him who said, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44, ESV)

Settle your heart, teen-aged girl who is tempted to lower her standard of worth to a pair of jeans or even worse, a pair of underwear. If others judge you for having or not having the best name brand piece, you may as well move on to deeper, more fulfilling friendships. Jesus wants your praise to come from Him, and he cares a whole lot more about whether or not you reach out to those he loves than whether or not you’re approved by a shallow group of girls who prance the halls together “looking great” in a certain peer group. 

And us adult ladies, let’s settle our hearts and quit putting so much stock in people. You’ll be disappointed and perhaps your faith will be shattered if the ones you praise, fall. No one is God and even the best of humans can fall.

Jesus cares more about whether or not they get back up again.

He cares about who they are focused on, what is most important to them.

Our culture is so opposed to God’s values that we really can’t focus on both. How can you truly love the poor while trying to measure up with the latest expensive item eyed by others who wish to “fit in”? 

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In the same way you can’t place your trust in people and in God. A person may fall but God will always stand. 

Let your child say, “But mom, every one else has them!” and simply remind her that value doesn’t come from a brand of clothing. Then show her true value by writing that check to your friends in Uganda while you purchase less expensive clothing for her.

Jesus always loves people. And the only thing He wants is for people to love Him back by loving others. Bless others more than impress others! 

Reality Versus Illusion

As I was driving along, staring at the mountains, I pondered this lovely daughter of mine in the passenger seat.

She hadn’t wanted to go to counseling, but I knew she needed to go. My brain was so full trying to figure out finances and kids, plus deal with my own pain, that I almost did the easy thing to let her avoid this, hiding her struggles in silent brooding.

It was easy to get sidetracked and start living and breathing as if the natural life was all that existed. Survival mode can do that to a soul. Eat what goes down, read what pops on a screen, and work the motions of life while struggling to inhale the air necessary to survive.

I glanced over at the truck next to me, then looked up at the mountains ahead as I wondered why it’s so easy to get swallowed up by the world. The reality is we are spiritual people in a human body but tend to live as though we are humans with splashes of spiritual experiences.

Our spirits live forever, momentarily in a human body that will soon fade away, and, in fact, get older each day as our minds often struggle to embrace the inevitable fading.

Sisters, we won’t be here forever. Forgetting God while remembering the universe and its inhabitants is the greatest illusion we could encounter. Yet, we are so human that we want what we can see, feel, taste, and touch only with our mortal eyes.

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Our mortal eyes were created by an Immortal, All-Seeing Eye which looks over the face of the whole earth to see whose heart is perfect toward him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

In the God realm, our empty, survival-mode lives are meant to be filled. But it takes faith. Real faith, which is described as the “evidence of things not seen.”

Get that—there is evidence, but it is unseen. There is life which is not understood by mere human experience. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

There is life beyond this life, and we forget God when we allow ourselves to be swallowed up with circumstances.

When we live as though people can ruin us, we forget that there’s a God greater than people–and He’s always victorious. His word is final and it is always good toward us.

Evil will not triumph over good. The very same God who will judge all evil in the end also has the final say for our souls right now. In his light, pain must be healed, broken must be made whole, and our souls must find peace. He can do nothing other than GOOD!

Right now, no matter what, we can live in a better reality when our souls are connected to the Ultimate Reality–Jesus Christ.

Toss aside the illusion that people, places, and things have the final say over our lives. Live in truth, and we will be free. A created being always finds its greatest meaning in its Creator!

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My daughter fell asleep on the way to her counseling appointment. She didn’t want to go, but she left that room worlds better than when she had entered. We didn’t talk about it as she wanted her privacy, but we bought donuts and realized again that there are better things for us to live for, focus on, and give our lives to.

Sisters, He is a healing God, your Savior, alive and well, never dead, and never silent. He, more than your circumstance, is your Reality!