How to Get the Praise You Deserve: Part Two

A Somber Realization)

Yesterday I brought up the common sensation we all have of not being appreciated as we ought to be. I examined why others don’t validate us in the way that we wish they would, and I also pointed out that in many cases they literally can’t.

At this point one has to make their peace with a fact of life: you will never receive exactly the validation, recognition, and appreciation that you desire from other people. Some people, some of the time, might say some of the right words, but there will always be some things left unseen, unappreciated, and unsaid.

This realization brings one to a crossroad. On the one hand, you could simply accept this dissatisfaction as a necessary part of life, an unpleasant but unavoidable reality that you just have to bear and move on with. On the other hand, you could start to consider outside solutions. Maybe no other person can give you all the validation that you need, but is it possible that you’ve been looking in the wrong place for it all along?

To choose that satisfaction is impossible is the more cynical option, it is to accept life as inherently broken. Unfortunately, some might aspire to such a cynical view as a show of strength. They might say, “I don’t need anyone else’s approval to be happy.” In my experience, however, simply denying the longing inside me does nothing to make it actually go away. I might say it doesn’t bother me anymore…but really it does. And so long as it’s going to keep bothering me, I may as well see if there’s not an alternative.

And in my contemplating, I have come up with two better, more reliable sources of validation. Today we will look at the first.

Love Myself)

One of the problems I mentioned with seeking approval and validation from others is that most of the good we do in life will be imperceptible to those around us. Another reason was that even when our good is recognized, the exact words of affirmation that we need to hear are a personal secret. Only we know exactly what qualities we feel that we most need to be appreciated for.

And so, what better person to provide the specific and targeted validation that we need than our own selves? Of all the people on Earth, only we know all the good that we have done, and only we know what qualities we exercised to do it.

I first considered giving approval and validation to myself after learning about Internal Family Systems, which suggests that your personality exists as several different entities, such as the wounded child who still hurts from a trauma in your past, and the protector who pushes others away in order to protect that child. My therapist guided me through a program in which I, as the authentic self, work with each of these different parts, unburdening them and giving them validation. After a while, I realized that I didn’t have to wait for those hurt and frustrated parts to come and find me, though, I could proactively care for them by letting my authentic self speak words of kindness and praise to them at any time that I wished.

Matters of Concern)

Even after having the idea of giving myself this self-appreciation, I still had my skepticisms about the practice. On the one hand, I suspected that I wouldn’t be satisfied. I felt that what I really wanted was validation from others, people who had said that they cared for me, but then took my contributions to the relationship for granted. How was validating myself supposed to resolve those relationship problems? My other concern was that I would give myself an over-inflated ego. I already felt like I was obsessed with the praise of others, wouldn’t patting myself on the back just extend my narcissism further?

I think that these were valid concerns to have, and I’m glad that I had them in mind from the beginning. Since I knew what dangers to watch out for, I felt I could experiment, and at the first sign of trouble I could abandon the practice altogether.

Thus I moved forward, and though I did not start this practice until recently, much to my surprise I have already seen both of these concerns be emphatically refuted. It is true that I have still felt taken for granted in some of my relationships, but now that I am receiving validation from myself, I no longer feel like I have to get the approval of others. For years these other people have been my only hope for validation, so I had a codependent relationship with them. I haven’t dared to speak my mind, for fear of losing what little I had. Now that I’ve learned that I can meet those needs without them, though, I am finally free to speak up for myself. I can tell them how I feel, and if they respond with hostility, I am perfectly content to end the unhealthy relationship.

And it has been much the same with my other concern. Being able to receive approval and validation from myself has disintegrated the need for the praise of the world. After a showing love and appreciation to myself, I really feel okay with the idea that I might never have the broader love and acclaim that I once dreamed of. As it turns out, it isn’t really fame that I wanted, it was a listening ear, even if only my own.


Recognizing and calling out the good things that I do is now one of my fundamental practices of self-care. It has taken my peace and fulfillment out of the hands of unreliable sources and brought them under my own jurisdiction.

So how exactly do I do this practice? I’m out of time for today, but I’ll spell out the simple steps I follow with tomorrow’s post. Maybe it’ll be useful for you as well.

Bring Your Worst Fears to Reality and be Free: Part Four

Doctrine, Wisdom, and Example)

Thus far I have appealed to the mind and to the heart for why the addict needs to bring his secret shame to light through confession. I have shared how my own self-delusions prevented me from confessing for a time and how I was saved after I finally broke through them.

My testimony would be incomplete, however, if I did not bring up what the words of scripture have said upon the matter. It is not only good philosophy and psychology to confess, it is good religion.

And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing: - Leviticus 5:5

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. - Proverbs 28:13

And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God...we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: - Daniel 3:3-5

In Leviticus, the book of the law, the Israelites were commanded to confess. It was one of the key steps towards forgiveness, and it was meant to be understood that cleansing would not occur until this ritual had been observed. Thus, by doctrine itself we are shown that we must confess.

Then, in the book of Proverbs we are told that he who does not confess shall not prosper. The book of Proverbs is not a statue of law like Leviticus. It is a collection of wisdoms observed from Solomon’s life experience. Thus, by the words of wise counsel we are again told that we must confess.

And finally, in the book of Daniel, we see the prophet in a moment of personal spiritual practice. Daniel is not performing a formal ritual or giving an address to others, he is being compelled by his own conscience in a personal act. Something in his heart just tells him that he needs to be “confessing my sin and the sin of my people” (verse 20). Thus, by the example of righteous people we also see that we must confess.

By doctrine, by wisdom, and by example, the scriptures make clear that the sinner who wishes to be clean must make their confession.

“But,” one might say, “couldn’t this only mean confession to God? Do the scriptures really say that I have to bring imperfect human beings into the matter? I’ll just work things out with God and that should be enough.” Well, let’s see if the scriptures do have anything to say on that matter.

Confession to Others)

Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judæa, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. - Matthew 3:5-6

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. - James 5:16

Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. - Acts 19:18

Here we have three verses that speak to the need for confession to others is addition to God. The passage in Matthew definitely seems to be suggesting that those who were baptized of John the Baptist were making known to him exactly what wrongs they were having washed away by his baptism. The passages in James and Acts make even more explicit the fact that the early saints were confessing “one to another,” and doing so “openly.”

In my personal experience, the need to confess to another human soul is due to our misconception that our faults make us incapable of being loved by another person. We need to break that illusion, and the only way to do so is to confess to another and see how they respond. Some of the most powerful moments of my life have been sitting in a twelve-step group where I have shared the deepest, most vulnerable parts of myself, and then had my brothers look me in the eye and say “Abe, me too. I’ve been right there myself and I want you to know that I still love you. You may still be in the ugly parts of your journey, but I absolutely respect you for taking this step in the right direction.”

Yes, these are messages that we need to hear from God directly, and at special moments He does say them directly to us. But in my experience, He usually reminds me of these messages through His living angels, the brothers and sisters all around me. When I find a safe place, among godly people, and I make my confession to them, then they are flooded with the love of God and speak to me the words that He gives them.

The Promises of Christ)

We have looked at the words and examples of prophets and apostles, both in the Old Testament and in the New. We have considered my personal experiences as well. But what of the words of Christ, himself? What promises has he made to those who come forward and make confession?

Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. - Luke 17:33

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. - Ezekiel 36:26

No doubt these verses have several applications, but one of them is most certainly to this matter of confession. I have already mentioned how the addict tries to hide his shame because he is trying to preserve his sham life. Christ assures us that the preservation of the old will ironically end in its destruction. The only way forward is to give up the old life. Once we shine a light on the secret, then the secret life dies, replaced with one of authenticity. Lose your life of fearful self-management and give birth to a new one of faithful surrender. The stony heart comes out and one of flesh takes its place.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. - Luke 9:23 

What a fitting description for the addict who overcomes his fears and rationalizations and embraces confession! To do this he must overcome his every basic nature, the pattern he has lived his whole life by, the very reasoning of his own mind. He must “deny himself,” take up the cross of the thing he dreads most, confession, and follow Jesus into that crucible.

Paul communicated this same idea to the Galatians when he wrote “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:” (Galatians 2:20). Denying ourselves and taking up our cross leads to being “crucified with Christ.” Many the addict has said that he felt like making his confession would kill himself. That sounds like hyperbole until you consider it in this spiritual sense. They were actually right; it would kill them. The carnal them! But in that crucifixion, they discovered Christ living within them. Through and in and of him, they were saved.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. - Matthew 11:30

I mentioned in my last post that as terrible as the consequences of confession might seem, they end up being miraculously less than what we expect. First, because almost every addict finds that the world and nature are kinder and more forgiving than they had given them credit for. Their sins had made them cynical, and they had then projected that cynicism onto the world. And secondly, because even when a burden does come, it is tremendously alleviated by the sense of new life within.

And this is exactly what Christ promises us in this verse from Matthew. His yoke and his burden may have some weight, but they are easy and light, certainly far more so than the iron shackles we’ve been dragging around thus far!


In the end, I did not make the decision to confess because I was convinced of the promises in these scriptures. I had heard them, and at times they did stir something within me, but I was far beyond faith when I finally gave in to the truth. I did not unveil my shame because I expected salvation, I did it because I was finally willing to accept damnation.

But, as it turns out, these verses make no requirement for the disciple to have the right expectations when he makes his confession. I found out for myself that you can take this step for virtually none of the right reasons, and mercy will still swoop down and make its claim upon you. It was only in hindsight, after I had already had the reality of these promises come true in my life, that I read these verses and realized that I had engaged in a contract with God without ever realizing it. In hindsight I can testify with all my heart that these promises are true. They were true for me, right down to the smallest detail, and they will be true for you!

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 50:10-13

10 And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days.

11 And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abel-mizraim, which is beyond Jordan.

12 And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them:

13 For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.

The funeral procession comes into Canaan, but pauses for a week at the threshingfloor of Atad, and I see some considerable symbolic significance with this place. First of all, it is a threshingfloor, which means a large, hard surface, upon which grain is threshed to separate the seed from the stalk. Often this is done by beating it with flails or crushing it under the foot of an ox. Also, this place is called Atad, which means “thorn bush.”

Things being beaten and thorns immediately bring to mind the abuse Jesus Christ suffered before his crucifixion. He was whipped and he was crowned with a ring of thorns before being taken to his place of death. Also worth noting is that Atad was “beyond Jordan,” the very river where Christ would be baptized, which baptism is also a symbol for death and burial. And finally, all these somber tokens are joined with the sound of mourning for the death of Jacob.

I feel that these connections to the Messiah are clear, but I admit I don’t fully understand why they are being invoked in this particular instance. What did the cosmos see in the death of Jacob that befitted a connection to the death of Christ? One possibility, I suppose, is that Christ’s death signaled a sort of death for all of Israel. His passing would bring his testament into full force, a new covenant to fulfill and supersede that of Abraham. Another reason might be that Jacob is the direct forerunner of the Israelite people in a physical sense, but Christ is their spiritual forerunner, and so the death of the physical is also pointing to the death of the spiritual. Or perhaps simply since the death of Jacob was notable and important, and all the eyes of the people were upon it, God saw it as an excellent opportunity to teach of a coming sacrifice.

Whatever the reason, the symbolism is unquestionably there. And so, the symbolic significance continues until the mourning of Jacob concluded, and then the Israelites and Egyptians move on, and Jacob is buried how and where he intended. The sons’ final duty to their father is fulfilled, and now they truly are out on their own.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 38:27-30

27 And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb. 

28 And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first.

29 And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez.

30 And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.

Tamar was not only successfully impregnated via her seduction of Judah, she ended up bearing twins! Now I’m far from an expert, but I do know that a baby trying to emerge hand-first is not the preferred method! Evidently this was a difficult and dangerous delivery, the culmination of a sordid and tumultuous family affair.

And, in fact, it led to another breach of the natural order. The child who first extended his hand then drew back inside and was surpassed by his brother. This story is very reminiscent of the birth of Esau and Jacob, who similarly competed with each other even during the moment of birth. We do not receive any further details about the lives of these two twins, Zarah and Pharez, so we do not know whether they continued to compete.

We do have one interesting detail about the breaching-brother Pharez, though. His descendant of nine generations would be none other than David, son of Jesse, the future king of Israel. And a future descendant of David, of course, was Jesus Christ.

It is notable to me that Jesus was therefore born of a branch that began in such an unorthodox manner. A union of a dishonest man seduced by his pagan daughter-in-law hardly sounds like the beginning of a great line. In fact, this is not the only abnormality that will appear in Jesus’s family line. He will also be the descendant of the Israelite-outsider Ruth. Jesus was a child born under less-than-ideal circumstances to a less-than-ideal heritage, but that only made him all the more relatable to us with our own family baggage.

Judah’s story is a strange and messy one. He chose a harder path and reaped difficult consequences and he didn’t have to. But through it all, he was never outside the reach of God’s plans. God was able to take an awkward situation and still weave into his tapestry of life.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 29:31-35

31 And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.

33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the Lord hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon.

34 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.

35 And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the Lord: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.

I imagine that Leah was in some way a willing party to Laban’s deception of Jacob, presumably she was careful not to reveal that it was her beneath the wedding veil instead of her sister. Even so, one can’t help to feel sorry for her, married to a man whom she knows loves her sister more than she.

God was not in favor of this situation, and he intervened in a subtle, yet effective, way. Leah was blessed with fertility, while Rachel remained barren. Jacob loved Rachel, but it was a love that literally could not bear fruit. Each sister had one blessing and one deprivation.

And in a strange way, this competition between sisters would end up serving God’s plans for the kingdom of Israel. If He was ever to raise a great nation as promised, sooner or later the pattern of one covenant-holder only fathering one more covenant-holder would have to change. By inciting this rivalry between Rachel and Leah, they aggressively sought childbirth, which multiplied the covenant lines twelvefold!

And also, it is worth noting that God’s consolation to Leah included a son named Judah, mentioned in verse 35, who was to be the forefather of Jesus Christ. I find it fitting that this portion of Christ’s ancestral line passed through one who was lonely and deprived of love, who welcomed a birth as a comfort to her soul.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 27:18-20

18 And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son?

19 And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.

20 And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the Lord thy God brought it to me.

Yesterday I mentioned that Jacob going to his father in the guise of Esau might be a symbolism for how we are remade in the image of Christ. And in today’s verses, notice how Jacob’s words are almost a perfect fit for what our Savior might have said to his Heavenly Father.

“I am Jehovah thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and receive of my sacrifice, that thy soul may bless me.”

And when each of us is introduced at the judgment seat, I expect we will be introduced in much the same way, having put on his name and image through the atonement. We will be received as God’s firstborn, who did according to how we were commanded, who brought glory to God, and who are now worthy of God’s blessing.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 27:11-13, 15-17

11 And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:

12 My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.

13 And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.

15 And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son:

16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck:

17 And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.

Yesterday I mentioned my ambition to read this chapter and consider whether it had more meaning than I had previously realized. And for the first time I noticed that these verses seem to be a symbolism for the gospel of Jesus Christ, something I had never seen before.

Recall these three passages:

Isaiah 53:6 "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Ephesians 4:22, 24 "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

In summary, the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that we are all unworthy on our own, and salvation can only come through Christ. And so we put off our old self and put on the new man, meaning we put on the image of Christ. And when we come to the final judgment we do not stand in our own place, but we are invited to stand in the place of Jesus, the only one who is worthy to receive God’s blessings.

Now, is this there not a shadow of this transpiring in the story of Jacob and Esau? Jacob cannot receive the blessing on his own, so he puts on the trappings of his elder brother. He becomes the man to whom his father can bestow the choicest blessings. And Rebekah even says that any curse that applies to her son will be removed from him and laid on her instead, which is also symbolic of our curse being laid upon Christ so that we may go free.

Granted, I am sure that in the final judgment Jesus will not be dressing us up to try and deceive our Heavenly Father. We will not be sneaking our way into heaven under false pretenses. Yet there definitely seems to be a parallel here, and Rebekah and Jacob were led into this symbolism not knowing the significance of it.

Discussing Spiritual Differences- Matthew 10:16-17, 22-23; 1 Samuel 8:7

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.


They will deliver you up to the councils, and ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake
But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another

Jesus did not mince words when he told his disciples what to expect when carrying his message into the world. And one of the points that he stressed in particular was that they were going to be rejected…a lot. Though the disciples would work miracles, though they would speak with power, though they would dedicate their lives to this work, though they would convince many of the truth, there would always remain those who would not accept their message.
Recall that even the master orator Paul, after he had borne a masterful testimony to King Agrippa, was only able to elicit a response of “almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

For they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me
But is it any wonder that the disciples would be rejected when their master was as well? Jesus was turned away from cities, disputed against in the synagogues, and given up to death by his own people. Was it just because he didn’t know the right words to say, because he fumbled in his delivery, because he wasn’t skilled enough in the preaching his own message.
No, of course not. He and his disciples faced rejection for the simple reason that people have their freedom of choice, and some just choose to reject the gospel message and that’s all there is to it. It doesn’t have to be that the one proselyting did anything wrong. They might have said exactly what they needed to, but the person hearing the message just didn’t want to receive it.
And that is an important truth for us to remember whenever we try to champion the right. I have known those who believe that if they can just find the right, magical words they will be able to unlock anybody’s heart and that simply isn’t true. No one has to accept what you to say. Anyone is able to turn you down, no matter how perfect your reasoning is. If you feel that you spoke with the words that were given you, that the point was made, that the truth was evident to any who would see, then you have done your part. Anything after that, acceptance or rejection, is out of your control. Whatever the outcome is, you must just accept it and move along.

Discussing Spiritual Differences- John 8:32, 1 John 2:21

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.


The truth shall make you free
Yesterday I considered how the truth wants to be spoken and urges us to utter it. However it is not the truth that needs us so much as it is we who need the truth.
Truth is not some fragile being that we must protect or else will fade away. It is not Tinkerbell who will die if we stop believing in it. Truth just is. It exists independently of our involvement. Truth does not need to be stated to be true.
So when we speak the truth, it is not for truth’s sake, but for humanity’s. As Jesus attests in this verse, it is the truth that makes us free. Thus to know the truth and to not say it is to leave your brother in chains.

Ye know it, that no lie is of the truth
And this is yet another reason why those that have found moral truth must speak up, even to a world that doesn’t want to hear it. Just as it is wrong to see someone walking into physical danger and not call out a warning, it is also wrong to not call out a warning of moral dangers.
When one has found the truth one knows the truth and one knows what is not of the truth. And when one knows that what they hear is not truth, it would be an act of abuse to leave one’s fellowman so blinded. Even if the other will not hear, the one that knows the truth is still obligated to speak it so that the other can have his chance for freedom.

Discussing Spiritual Differences- Matthew 7:7-8, John 7:37, John 6:66-67

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?


Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth
If any man thirst, let him come unto me
We must always remember that this is a gospel of invitation, not of force. It is a gospel where the disciple is meant to seek after, not be pushed ahead. It is opt in, not opt out.
When we can share the truth we should do so with passion and commitment, we should leave no question about the importance of what we are saying. But never should we try to make someone accept it and never should we punish them for ignoring us.

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

Jesus boldly renounced sin. Jesus reproved his own disciples. Jesus chased away those who corrupted the place of worship. He was very clear and very firm in his declaration of truth. But the decision to follow him was always left to the disciple. If they wanted to leave then they could, and some of them did. But if they wanted to stay then they knew where to find him and they knew what he expected of them. It was just up to them to choose it.