We need to know what question we're asking in our search for affirmation so that we don't leave it up to this world to wholly answer it. But, and this may ruffle a few feathers, neither can God wholly answer our insecurities.
God can answer the deepest questions of your heart, and He often does when you dare ask Him. He can speak meaning and purpose and passion into your life in ways that men cannot, no matter how much stock you put in man. A man can tell you how well you perform, but only God can tell you how good you are. A man can tell you how strong you seem, but only God can show you how to stand firm.
Wait - am I refuting my own point? Didn't I just say that God cannot wholly answer our insecurities, then launch into a whole paragraph about how He does just that?
Kinda. But I'm not finished yet.
You see, it's kind of a strange thing. The more we connect to God, the more we rely on God to be the answer to all of our questions, the more we beg God to speak into our emptiness and affirm our growing character, the more likely we are to withdraw from community. The more likely we are to conclude that we don't need other men, but rather, that we are God's gift to them. (Literally. With God's voice the only one speaking into our gifts, we start to think we are His gift.) We don't need people any more because we have God, and generally this leads us to either use people or abuse them, if not outright dismiss them entirely.
All of a sudden, we realize we're not having the impact we could or should be having. We're not connected like we ought to be. Our life, though full of purpose, is void of meaning. And we start to wonder what good it does for a man to listen to God at all.
That changes when we have men who are willing to speak into our lives. When we have voices around us that we're listening to. They don't answer our questions, but they affirm what we already know. They tell us where they see God in us. They open our eyes to see what He's doing through us. They confirm that what we're doing matters, and even better, they normalize it. It's the perfectly natural thing that we ought to be doing, and when someone else sees that, it changes the way you do it.
Because no longer are you fighting against the world, trying to prove what God has spoken to you. Now, you're just doing it and the world sees it and it's okay and more than okay, it's wonderfully perfect for you to be doing and you're doing a great job of it. Now, life has meaning.
No longer are you God's gift to man, but you gift your personhood back to God. You give yourself to Him, and He gives you back to yourself to do the very things He's designed for you in this world. It's beautiful that way.
It's a delicate balance, a hard one to strike. We all have questions, doubts, fears...insecurities. It's tempting to let any voice speak into our lives just to have an answer to the gnawing. But the way to truly do it is simply this:
Take your questions to God. Let Him speak life into you. Let Him tell you who you are and what you're doing and whether it's good. Let God answer.
But then, be humble enough and gracious enough to bare your answered heart to men. To live out loud and show them what you're doing. And let them speak to the God in your life. Let them affirm what holy thing you're doing.
I know, I know. The "righteous"-sounding thing is to say we don't need the approval of men. No, we don't. But we certainly need the affirmation of them. It's wired into us to have community, and it's by this measure of community - when men affirm the work of God in our lives - that we're driven back to both our community and our God.
With God alone, it is far too easy for our twisted minds to forsake man. Look around you; you can see this happening every day. But when a man looks into your heart and says, "I see God," it's hard to forsake either. You want to give God to man...and you want to bring man to God. And the best way to keep this balance in mind is to let both speak.
So long as you remember Who speaks first.