By Dawn Owens @dawnmarieowens
Hi! My name is Dawn Owens, and I am an approval addict.
I’ve struggled my whole life with overcoming this life-sucking addiction and I must tell you, even though I just wrote a book on it, I still struggle.
Being an approval addict and going to a writer’s conference to seek representation from an agent or pitch your idea to an editor is like a food-a-holic walking into Golden Corral.
You’ve got your “make new friends” salad bar, then there is the “will the faculty member call on me in class” side dishes, you have your “ pitch to the editor” main courses, and of course, the just deserts of “landing the agent.”
So why in the world, would someone who is addicted to approval want to be a writer, better yet a published author, knowing the expectations to sell the book is to have a growing platform?
The simple answer is, you and every other approval addict out there.
After attending the conference I am convinced I am not alone. There are a lot of you out there, just like me, who struggle with the same issues. We try to figure out a way to balance the pressure of growing a platform while keeping our identity grounded in Christ. We’ll discuss this more in part two.
I don’t believe God has called us to the field of writing only to place us in bondage to the addiction of approval. No, just the opposite, I believe He has called us to write to tell our stories of freedom so others can also be set free.
But if we are shackled to the need to please everyone around us, we will find ourselves seeking their needs over what God is calling us to do. We’ll constantly see our peers as our competitors and miss out on opportunities to encourage each other and lift one another up in prayer. And, if we are really stuck in the addiction to approval, some of us will be so overcome with the fear of rejection; we’ll never even take a chance at writing.
So what are we to do? We have a calling on our lives to write. Some of us to speak. We have been commissioned by every keynote speaker at conferences to take what we’ve learned and put it to work: to be the weak writer, not to rob the world of our stories, and to write even when it’s hard.
Recognize you have a problem. In my day job, I lead an organization that serves the poor in our community. The reality of their poverty is that many find themselves in the traps of addiction: drug, alcohol, sex, and just like me and you, approval. One of the things I have learned from my friends in drug and/or alcohol addiction is the first thing you need to do is recognize you have a problem. Romans 3:23 reminds us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Repent to receiving healing. Let’s face it. When we are addicted to the approval of others, we are seeking to please ourselves and/or the people around us. Most of the time, it takes God out of the equation. In doing so, we have sinned. The amazing part of Jesus’ dying for us on the cross is that we receive forgiveness through the blood that He shed for us. Therefore, we can go on another day knowing we have a fresh start in Him.
Know He is God. That may seem trite, but it is all we need to walk in our identity. You and I were bought with a price, according to 1 Corinthians 6:20. In that purchase, we became new creations and in that re-birth, we were given a heavenly identity that says we are complete, righteous, and favored by Him. By recognizing that He is God, you and I can understand how our need to please has already been satisfied in Him.
We have stories to tell. We have readers that need to hear our stories of strength, of freedom, and of satisfaction in Christ. But if we get ourselves caught up in the spin cycle of addiction, we will completely miss the opportunity to share all the glorious things God has done in our lives.
Recognize your problem. Repent to receive healing. Know He is God. These steps are just the beginning, but if you seek Him for who He says you are, I promise you you’ll start to experience the freedom Christ died to set you free from. That includes every addiction in your life, even the one for approval.
This is post one of a three part series on “Confessions of an Approval Addict.” Next time, we’ll talk about how to rest securely in your identity in Christ while growing your online platform.
Dawn Owens serves most days as the leader of a ministry to the poor in Cullman, AL, while moonlighting as a writer, blogger, and aspiring author. She’s a wife, mom, and friend to anyone who loves lattes in coffeehouses. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.