Biography, Pondering, Wheaton


I’ve never desired the approval of everyone. Just selected others, others who, in my eyes, really matter. But in conforming to what it takes to retain their approval, I become a distorted image bearer of my God. I wish I could say it has happened only once. C.S. Lewis calls this condition “bentness.” When I assume this bent posture I live for the approval of others, rather than standing up straight, daring to hope that just being who I am might delight the heart of the God who has made and and is re-making me for himself.

My bentness has been fueled by a compulsive desire for approval from my selected others: grasping for favor I did not yet have, and holding on too tight to favor once granted. In order to hold my favorites’ attention, I have listened very closely, read the right books, formed the correct opinions, and spoke well on the acceptable sides of issues. I have been bent on acting in accordance with the unspoken rules that accompanied a particular person’s affirmation.

Invariably there would come a moment when my eyes were opened and I would see how uncomfortably distorted I had become. I remember a particular moment at the end of my freshman year of college. I had become close to three other people who were intensely concerned with how they might serve the Lord overseas. I had never met people this focused before. I was intrigued. So I read what they were reading, and tried on the manner of their discourse, passion, and zeal for the kingdom. Near the end that year, however, one of my other acquaintances wanted to join us for a particular discussion these friends had arranged with one of our professors. When I told my friends I had invited another to join us, the leader strongly protested any outside participation, stating the need for a safe place to talk.

I couldn’t reconcile their mission message and their apparent exclusiveness. I began to feel contorted and confined. Our friendship cooled over the summer, and I found other friends the following fall. Ever attracted to people of passion, I have repeated this scenario over and over. My desire for approval from people I respect is deep, and the purification of my soul’s deeper desire to stand up straight again has been particularly fiery.The dross of these distortions of personhood have been burned up repeatedly. I have left many groups, and have found myself each time back in my cell, where my internal posture has once again been re-formed.

Nevertheless, out of each of these distorting situations I have carried gifts that last. One of these gifts is the battered copy of Lewis’ Weight of Glory given me by the leader of that little college group well over thirty years ago. And this passage is one that ushers me into the Lord’s presence when I finally shut the door of my internal cell.

“I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not! How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except in so far as it is related to how He thinks of us. It is written that we shall “stand before” Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.” (C.S> Lewis, The Weight of Glory)

I do long for approval. My desire is deep. But deeper still is the fire that insistently corrects my soul’s posture. Chin up, Carla. The God who is forming you in his purifying fire is the same God who approves the work. Be at rest once more, oh my soul.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s