By Joy Ballard
Do you know how to get admiration without asking for it?
If there is something women dislike, it’s asking for admiration. We ask questions like, “Does this outfit look good?” “Am I a good mom?” “Do you love me?” We want to hear the answers to these questions but we don’t want to have to ask.
Asking for Admiration – Is It Insecurity or Something Deeper?
There is something really uncomfortable about this seeming neediness. I don’t want to beg for attention, while at the same time I don’t want to be unnoticed.
Deep down I know what I do really matters. Beyond feeding people, doing their laundry and organizing our schedule, I know these tasks are just a practical part of the deeper, meaningful work I am called to do. The relational challenges of being a wife and a mother require an incredible amount of courage and effort.
However, what I experience often feels more like being taken for granted than admired.
A hormonal pre-teen is cutting in his remarks. A toddler tornado leaves a disaster in her wake. A well-meaning church friend piles more tasks on my plate. An insensitive relative criticizes my parenting. My husband fills his schedule leaving no time for a date.
Internally I scream, “Somebody, please notice me!” Not because I have some inferiority complex, but because I’m exhausted and spent. I want to feel validated for the courage it takes to wake up every day and do it all again.
My tank is empty and I’m looking for someone to fill it. But I’m looking in the wrong place.
How to Get Admiration Without Asking for It
If you’ve experienced these feelings, you know how easily they turn into self-pity or self-promotion. Self-pity offers the false promise that if we complain and sulk, we’ll get what we need. Self-promotion offers an opportunity to fake what we wish we were, deceiving ourselves along with our audience.
May I offer some alternatives? Here is how to get admiration without asking for it.
Find stories that change your perspective. In Genesis 16 we meet Hagar, a slave who was sexually used and mistreated. She runs away to the desert where she has an encounter with God. Among other promises and instructions, he says, “…the Lord has heard of your misery.”(v. 11, NIV) Then…
“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” (Genesis 16:13, NIV)
This little story, tucked in between the famous accounts of Abraham, has always helped me gain perspective. Not only are my problems small in contrast with Hagar’s experience, but also it speaks to the deepest human longing I have: to matter.
I am seen by God and loved. From that posture, any admiration I receive from others is just extra.
Centered in the love of Jesus, I then can approach others honestly about my feelings without neediness or insecurity. With my tank full of God’s love, my need is no longer to be filled but to build up my relationships.
The love languages (quality time, affirmation, acts of service, gifts and physical touch) are not selfish needs, they’re relational needs. They are a mutual honoring of one another which helps build up our most intimate relationships.
Understanding that these needs are universal means we are not the only ones feeling this way. Many times the very person taking us for granted feels the same way from their point of view.
Empowered by our relationship with Jesus and the right perspective to build up our relationships, we can experience the freedom to dish out extravagant amounts of admiration without waiting for someone else to do it first.
Chances are that the people around you could use some encouragement. Why not be the one to give it?
The Secret About Being a Generous Admirer
Jesus said it: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38, NIV)
We can give admiration generously, trusting God to meet our needs, for he can give to us in an overflowing, running-over way that no human ever could.
Wife Step: Send a text expressing admiration for five people who need to hear it today.
Joy was born and raised in a multicultural, bilingual family in the country of Mexico. Although she loves a good taco, her love for a Minnesota guy won out. 14 years of marriage, 4 kids and many geographical locations later, they now reside in Indiana where her husband is completing a doctoral program. Together they love helping couples discover the incredible adventure marriage was intended to be. They have led many marriage small groups, ministries and retreats, but their favorite way to connect with other couples is by simply sharing life together. When not deep in the throes of homeschooling and parenting, Joy enjoys devouring books, stringing words together, dabbling in watercolor, and sipping coffee with friends. Photo credit: Woodford Sisters Photography