Approval-Seeking Dreams

College Reporting

College was drawing to a close for me. I stood on the edge of my senior year gazing into the future with wild imaginations of where I hoped my career would lead me. I loved the heartbeat of a big city. The hustle and bustle beckoned me. Buildings reaching for the sky just like my dreams.


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I was a journalism major with high aspirations. I was clicking out words in downtown Los Angeles as a columnist for a New York fashion newspaper. I could taste the excitement tingling in my fingers.

Sitting on one of the few grassy knolls on campus, I planned a course that would take me to The City. The Big Apple. Madison Avenue. Slick fashion publications. Thoughts swirled through my mind of sitting at my own desk and peering out a 40th floor window of a city tower that overlooked the heartbeat of the city that never sleeps.

I searched for ways that would not only take me to New York City but would also allow me to live in its heart. I had relatives living in New Jersey but they were getting up in years and commuting into the city wasn’t as exciting. Someone writing for a New York publication should be living the life there, I thought.

Then someone told me that one of the sorority houses on campus had a house in New York where alumni lived. The answer seemed like it dropped from heaven into my lap. Just pledge that sorority and my dreams of hitting it big would become a reality.

Although I had never wanted to pledge a sorority because of the party reputation, once I knew this was my sure-fire way to New York, I cast my former convictions aside. I jumped into the pledge pool without hesitation. During pledge week, I met my sorority sister who would be my guide through the process.

I danced my way through parties and gatherings, juggled classes and homework, squeezed in graduation preparation, and kept my eye on the dream. It was a challenge but I thrived on the rush of excitement and a packed schedule.

I lived for the approval of my sorority sisters, the awards and positions I held in college, the feeling of success as I managed my goals. Life was full until one morning when I awoke to red blotches popping up on my arms. Itching and long sleeves on hot California fall days could not stand in the way of my goal.

But the blotches turned into blisters and they spread from my arms up to my scalp and down to my legs. I looked like a late-blooming strawberry. Covered in Calamine lotion, I finally went to the doctor–my aunt’s dermatologist. Laundry detergent and food allergies had been ruled out. The doctor looked firmly into my eyes.

“What was the last thing you added to your schedule?” he chided me. I told him about pledging a sorority and he said emphatically, “Drop it!”

“No,” I wailed. “It’s my ticket to New York City.”

I did not have a personal relationship with the Lord at that time but I faithfully attended church. Later in life I could see that God had intervened in my life and brought my dreams to a screeching halt. I did not fully understand and just figured it wasn’t meant to be.

Now, decades after accepting Jesus into my heart, I still struggle with that need for approval. That longing to reach the pinnacle so that I can feel my life has been worthwhile. That it has mattered.

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” St. Augustine from “The Confessions of St. Augustine. (Click to Tweet)

I raised my children with the hopes that they would shine so that my role as a mother would receive its stamp of approval. Every time they succeeded in school, won awards, or held a desirable position in class, I breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m doing something right,” I would say. And when they made mistakes, caused problems at school, or were not among the top in their class, my stomach clenched in knots. I pushed, prodded, coached, preached. My approval rested on their shoulders.

This Lent I’m on a journey to crush that need for approval because I am finally grasping–and growing in acceptance of the fact that I am already approved by God. Jesus made me worthy, cherished, loved and accepted. Nothing I could achieve in this life could ever equal the approval of God or win His love. His son, Jesus, made me worthy and approved at the cross. He crowned me with compassion and His love.

I am now approved. My call–to go and live like it. Rest in His approval. That’s enough for me. (Click to Tweet)

“He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon.” Psalm 37.6 The Message

I Am a Reflection of His Love IMG_7953I am a reflection of His love and approval. Jennifer Dukes Lee has authored a book about our craving for approval in all the wrong places. Not seeing that our needed approval comes from God. Learn more about the person and book that is changing lives this lent: Jennifer Dukes Lee, Love Idol.

I will be giving away a copy of Jennifer’s book in a random drawing of those who leave comments here on my blog post #loveidol.

Linking with: Essential Fridays, Faith-Filled Fridays,The Friday Five, Monday Musings, Tell Me A True Story, Soli Deo Gloria, Three Word Wednesday

 From My Heart To Yours,



24 thoughts on “Approval-Seeking Dreams

  1. І don’t even know how I stօpped up here, Ьut I thought this publish was
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    to a famous blogger should you are not already. Cheers!

  2. Our dreams sometimes fly out the window but God gives us new dreams! Thank you for your entry at “Tell Me a Story.” I have been off line due to computer failure and virus problems, but my husband gave me a different computer so I am back on line – just lost a bunch of stuff including my e-mail addresses..
    Please return Monday around 5:00PM PST when the new week will be open for your story at:

  3. Oh, my- I love your honesty and still feel jealous of anyone who got to major in journalism…I chickened out. Because I felt I could not compete. But that is a post in itself. I feel like a book tramp because there are so many books out that I want to read, but reading and writing, hey- they are my Love Languages. And this one message from Jennifer, is one I need to absorb. Thanks for the chance to win “Pre-Approved”!

  4. Janis, I had no idea about the journalism and the dreams that you had. What an interesting *extra* to add to the picture I have of you! Funny how God must have used that rash to keep you from joining the sorority. Sounds like Him! 🙂

    I have heard a lot about this book – it sounds wonderful. Yes, I have all too often found myself at that altar of approval, seeking a nod from the *masses*. Worrying (still) about the *stats* on my blog. And then, on top of that, I have all the angst of the “please need me” stuff with my sons.

    Pre-approved. It sounds like a fresh breath of air to my soul.


  5. I appreciate this post so much. It helps me to know you better Janis. I am so glad the Lord intervened in your life and choose you for Himself. I grew up in New York so I understand the draw to the city that never sleeps. But Jesus has a plan and purpose for our lives. I love the pre-approved label. What a wonderful reminder that I don’t need to seek approval from people but am already accepted and loved by the One who created me. Beautiful post and now I really want to read this book!

    Blessings and love,

  6. Janis, you have touched on a subject that so many of us women struggle with I believe. I have heard so many good things about Jennifer’s book. I hope to read it soon.

  7. I too seeked the approval of others and manage to faithfully attend church without having a personal relationship with Jesus. I’d love to win a copy of Jennifer’s book. I’ve come a long way but I still have a long way to go. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  8. Visiting from faith filled Fridays…I’m on a very similiar journey and God has been so good…buts its been a long journey!! Will have to look into this book! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I agree,sometimes we can’t see were heading but God has a plan for all of us.

    Coming from Essential Fridays! Come-by my blog and say HI!

  10. Your journey is just proof that God has a bigger and better plan than we can ever imagine. I can also relate to feeling “responsible” for some of my children’s choices and used to explain that “they weren’t raised that way.” I guess that I was also seeking approval in my role as a mother. This is a good reminder that we get our approval from God alone and not from children, spouses, friends or family

    • Mary, thank you so much for dropping in for a visit! There is such a craving for approval and our eyes turn to what and who we visibly see to get that approval instead of looking up. I pray for each of us who hear this message will have our hearts filled with God’s lasting approval. Look forward to meeting you in person!
      Blessings, Janis

  11. WOW! What a ‘blast from the past’! So resonates with me and my life. At my 81 years I reflect on my past college years, teaching profession and own children’s struggles with their present and future. God has gifted each one of us with tremendous gifts to be used in His honor and service. Until we reach that conclusion we will fight many battles alone. When we accept refuge under His wings and follow his acceptance and strength will we find that nothing else matters. Then we have everything that really matters! AMEN

    • Hi Marilyn, thank you for stopping by and for your insight that we will fight many battles alone until we take refuge in Him and His love. Yes, this photo was a real “throwback” and I chuckle when I see it on my post. What dreams we have in college but I’m so glad that God is the one who directs our footsteps!
      Blessings, Janis.

  12. Good and how true it is!! We are accepted in the beloved! Ephesians 1:3-6 and 1 Peter 2:9 and 1 Peter 2:4,5. Karen

    • Hi Karen, thank you for stopping by and sharing words of wisdom from the Author and Finisher of our faith. He chooses us and approves us through His work–not ours.
      Blessings, Janis

  13. Thank you, Angel, for stopping by and sharing how this post resonates with you as well. Have a blessed day!

  14. Thank you for sharing your story Janis. It resonates with me as well as, I’m sure, so many other women. It’s a daily struggle, I think. Knowing in our minds that we are accepted by God but allowing subtle comparisons with others to make us doubt our own worth.

    I love this part, “I am now approved. My call–to go and live like it.” Well said!

    God’s word tells us that we are His creation, His beloved children. We just need to start living like we believe that to be true.


  15. Pingback: When You Want to Know that Freedom is Possible, that You Aren’t Alone, and that You’re Preapproved in Christ | Jennifer Dukes Lee

  16. I loved reading this post because I got to know you more,Janis.I grew up in NY & worked in the city but was not as excited about it as you. I loved reading Love Idol & it has deeply impacted me. It has been such fun getting to know you more. Blessings!

  17. I’ve seen so many people who’ve read and profited from that book. I think I am going to have to give it a try!

  18. Beautiful post, Janis. I just love how Jennifer’s book is impacting so many. I’m anxiously awaiting to receive my copy. Thank you for sharing your story with us. These messages are so needed. We are PREAPPROVED. Love you.

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