Praise from God, not others

I’ve been meditating on this verse:

“From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will
perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!” Psalm
22:25-26, ESV

Somehow I get this verse reversed. Instead of sufficing myself in His opinion and praise, I live for the praise of the great congregation. And oddly, instead of doing my work (writing, speaking, mommying, cooking, gardening, wifing) as an offering to God, I measure myself by how well others respond to me.

And to take my problem-infused self further, it’s often unsafe people that I perform for, doing all sorts of crazy acrobatics to get them to:

  1. Notice me.
  2. Love me.
  3. Approve of me.
  4. Praise me.
  5. Validate me.

The issue with unsafe people is, gee, they’re unsafe. They’re busy with their little kingdoms, too preoccupied with themselves to notice, love, approve, praise and validate. So what do I do? I work harder. I jump higher. I make signs that say “Look at me” and picket the unsafe people. And when they walk away, laughing at my neediness, I’m the one left holding the sign and feeling pretty stupid.

Thankfully, I am learning. And this verse is helping me. It says first to be filled with God’s opinion of me. If I get that right, I won’t need all that external validation. I’ll be joyful all by myself, not needing the approval and applause of others. And then, when God gives me the passion to do so, I will cast my pearls before those who make necklaces, not those who eat up what’s valuable.

I’m afflicted, just as the psalmist says. I may appear all together on the outside, but way down deep, I’m needy and broken. But this psalm says if I’m in that state of affliction, I will eat and be satisfied. Truly, truly satisfied. I will taste and see that the Lord is good. And I won’t need to pilfer through the garbage, gnawing at scraps anymore.

The aftermath of that is praise. Genuine, God-centered, shout-it-to-the-heavens praise. The kind that helps my heart understand that it’s made for eternity, and I needn’t not spend my days trying to fill myself up with the fickle opinions of others.

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