About a couple of years ago, I read the book, I’m Proud of You: My Friendship With Fred Rogers, by Tim Madigan. Mr. Madigan is a journalist who spent time interviewing the famed Mr. Rogers and found a friend in him. I highly recommend this book, if you want to read something that makes you reach for a tissue.
Within the book, through the friendship with Mr. Rogers, Tim was discovered a need for a certain level of approval. Mr. Rogers, being the kind of person he was, saw this and began to end his responses with, “IPOY”…which stands for, I’m proud of you.
My father was, by all accounts, a pretty decent guy. He was pleasant, well liked and seemingly content most of the time. There were issues, however, that kept him from being part of the household on a consistent basis. So, from a young age, I remember my father either working long hours, or making a stop at a “local watering hole” before he came home. I don’t think he meant to be distant, but it did end up that way.
By the time I was nearly eleven, he had a massive stroke that left him in nursing care for the remainder of his life. The man I barely knew had permanent short-term memory loss, so he needed 24 hour care. He was not the same man, really. In the long run, I never really got to know him.
Years later, as an adult, I unwittingly began seeking approval from others. Men in authority, such as pastors or other leaders who would have been some level of paternal figure. It was not really a desperate thing, but it seemed to be a subconscious necessity. It took me many years into my adulthood before I realized that I was seeking someone’s approval.
However, we are always approved.
Unconditionally, undeniably, unashamedly, unconditionally…with no regret, no reservations and without doubt…God approves of us. No, not everything we do.
Everything we are.
His beloved children. This is why Jesus went to anyone, from any walk of life, with any ailment, no matter their station in life, how they lived, smelled or looked…He would treat them with love and respect, placing a loving arm around them, covering what others would bring as exposed shame.
He never said He approved of what someone was doing, but He clearly showed He approved of the person.
He approves of you.
He approves of me.
We still need approval, here on Earth. We need to express and show approval. You know, like when a little kids brings you his brilliant artwork. Sure, it may look like mud-colored chaos on a piece of warped and water logged paper. But, as a loving parent, you let them know how great their work is and hang it on the refrigerator for all to see.
One thing I have been trying to be diligent about…letting my two sons and son-in-law know that I am proud of them. Yes, I let my girls know that, too. But, I believe the impact of a Dad communicating this to his sons is important. I don’t want them seeking approval from people who may wind up taking advantage of their efforts.
Once in a while, I will post something on my Facebook page about one or all of my boys, if not all of the kids. I will explain how they are becoming fine adults, parents and citizens. I have often closed these with “IPOY”. When I talk with them, personally, I try to remember to let them know that I am always proud of them.
This is rather condensed, but I hope my point comes across.
An old friend was explaining to me about some stuff his son would write. He told me his son has great insights. However, from a theological standpoint, my friend had disagreements and let his son know what he felt was inaccurate. Upon explaining this to me, he said that, perhaps, his son was seeking his Dad’s approval. So, I just said that he should give his son his approval.
Not long later, he was reviewing another of his son’s articles. He had some normal critique, but some of his critique was about to become rather, well, critical. Under the advice of his wife, he left out those portions and his son’s response was very positive. My friend actually sees a turnaround in his relationship with his son.
Dad’s approval for his sons means much. Mom’s approval for her girls means much. Parents approval for our children means much. Grandparents approval for our grandchildren means much. We may not agree with everything, we may have to correct or show the correct way. But, we should always approve of them.
Approval comes from love.
Love says my desires are less important than others’ well being. Love says my knowledge is less important than someone else’s effort. Love says that my being right is less important than supporting someone going through a tough spot. Love says that my agenda should be set aside for the betterment of someone else.
The ghost is gone.
There is no end to searching for approval from someone who is not there or who will never show proper approval. For whatever reason, I finally came to realize that I was searching and how vain that search was. God always approves of me and He is a proud father of all of us.
I now know He approves of me. The ghost his gone.
We are His children and that is all there is to it.
If Jesus were to leave you a note, He might sign it…