Addicted to Acceptance
By Joanne Highley
When a child is born into a family, there begins a discovery by the child of who he or she is. This discovery is done by relating to the mother and father during infancy and early childhood. If the parents pay attention to the baby, pray over the baby, speak to him or her, laugh and play with the baby and attend to the needs of the baby, the formation of the baby’s personhood can develop naturally. But if there are distractions, crises, dysfunction in the parents, inability to express love or give the baby what he or she needs, then the baby cannot grow and discover who he or she is.
Even with a good experience in infancy, there can be trauma, harsh treatment or abuse by family or neighbors, sickness or surgery, moving from one culture to another and many other “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” which can harm and stunt the development of personhood.
There are inherent gifts and talents that God gives to every child and these gifts influence how the child deals with the early input from parents. We are not saying that every parent who has a child who develops problems of homosexuality is totally to blame for this problem. We know that parents have also suffered treatment in their lives that has brought about their own emotional dysfunction and irrational ungodly reaction to pain in childhood and beyond. But the fact remains, that early childhood impressions of one’s self are very powerful to influence and shape the child’s concept of him or her self. As we said, the inherent gifts and talents of the child are a factor, in that those children with compassionate gifting and talents that include sensitivity will be more likely to store pain and feel it more intensely than those without these gifts.
If there is inordinate punishment or angry outbursts against the child; if there is sexual abuse or incest done to the child; if there is name-calling, criticism and put downs as well as not listening or caring about what matters to the child, that child will have begun to misperceive who he or she is. If in general the child begins to see him or herself as bad, wrong, ugly, never or rarely given love and encouragement and acceptance, the child soaks up this treatment into his or her growing impression of ‘who I am”. The conclusion begins to be ‘there is something wrong with me”, “I can’t please my parents.” “I am bad.”
As the child grows and goes out into society: school, church, neighborhood, he or she takes this false impression, “I am bad.” with him or her. So the other children at school see a difference in that child—a lack of being carefree, a pulling away from play with others. They begin to call that child “queer” and avoid and ridicule him or her. In the neighborhood and even in the expanded family, the lack of personhood can be perceived as a child who could be approached for sex and threatened to remain silent about it and he or she would not tell their parents.
Once the irrational idea of being bad is established in the child, it is difficult to dislodge. There begins a comparison with others in the child’s mind to see what they have that makes them acceptable. But this fails to give true answers because the child only sees them from the “I’m bad.” viewpoint and this makes worse feelings of being unacceptable. It also gives a false view of the person being compared to because they always look better to the child than he or she is and the child feels he or she is worse than they are. This can continue into adulthood and become sexualized. The looking then becomes more and more irrational as the adult men and women put themselves down more and more and idolize the ones being cruised.
We all need positive input, words of building us up so we can believe we can be acceptable to others and be loved. This is a central need and drive in every person. It is a part of the “breath of life” that was breathed into every person by God. God is love and that initial breath from Him made us seek love, which is unconditional acceptance. We seek to be accepted not because of what we do, but just because we are loved no matter what. Love is patient and kind, love does not keep a record of wrongs, it is not easily angered, it does not delight in evil but in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, alwways hopes, always perserveres.
The pain of the rejection at an early age makes the child attempt to please the parents and schoolmates so he or she can be accepted and hopefully loved. The drive for this acceptance is made more intense by the established false perception of the child as being bad and unacceptable. So the pain of rejection is constant while the drive for acceptance is building but generally on the inner places of the child’s emotions. Fantasy and early crushes on teachers and schoolmates begin in an attempt to get the pain to stop. The idea of someone accepting, approving, saying nice things about the child becomes strongly desired. If the child, or by now the young adolescent, finds someone who is emotionally dependent or seeking sexual encounters and he or she begins to seduce the child or adolescent, the intense focus of the approach and seduction hits the very needy place where the child or adolescent has longed for someone to accept them. This sets off a great desire to have the feeling of intense “caring”. (This is a lie in the emotions. It is really using the child or adolescent.) When sex is added to this experience, we now have full-blown addiction in which the mind is separated from the painful emotions and the emotions have become the first consideration: “I want something to stop this pain of rejection.” The sex stops the pain temporarily and the emotions go into the irrationality of feeling “loved and accepted”. The mind knows that this is sin, but is cut off from the emotions which are connected to the sex drive and are now in control. The child or adolescent is now in a state of being trapped in a lie—addicted to acceptance.
We are working with a large number of people who have this problem and there is total freedom from it. The emotions have to be exposed that lie to the person and the unreality that told him or her that this was love and acceptance, when it is truly the opposite, must be uprooted. In truth, it is using someone to stop our pain, instead of working to break up the old addictive focus on getting someone to “make me feel better”. Our feelings become full of lies when we compare ourselves to others from an irrational view of both ourselves (worthless, bad) and others (wonderful, better then I am in every way) We have lived in this lie and also in the lie that everyone else is better, more talented, smarter, funnier, more successful, better looking. Instead of being able to stop comparisons (which are not made rationally) and go on to develop our own gifts, we dwell in hopelessness about ourselves and drink, or use drugs and/or have sex and hate ourselves more afterward. That drives us to do this all over again to stop the pain of feeling we will never be accepted unless we are in a homosexual union and yet we know it is wrong. Many people say to me, “It’s all I know.” No doubt, given the trap of lies and ungodly reaction to pain that holds you in its grip. We must move on to a new way of seeing ourselves, others and God.
First we must fully agree that in our infancy, childhood and/or adolescence we got the wrong idea about ourselves. Try to write out what that wrong perception was. See the ways you were put into a category of being bad, either by overt rejection: beating, abuse, name-calling, angry attacks, insults, criticism, humiliation and neglect; or by covert rejection: being ignored, laughed at, not listened to, abandoned, controlled. Then acknowledge that the pain of the rejection made you hold on to the irrational and overly critical view of yourself. Confess to God you want this to stop. If you have developed a false view of God—that He does not love you and wants to hurt you or abandon you, you will need to work to the truth that God is perfect in all His ways and generally our false view of Him came from our view of our earthly father or father figure. Confess your sins to Him.
Begin to choose to encourage yourself and build yourself up by the truth that God loves you and has good things for you. (contrary to your view of your life—that you are going to receive only bad things). Read and take in the truth of the pamphlet, “Who I Am in Christ”. Read and agree with every scripture even though your emotions will not agree. It is with our will, our mind and our spirit that we break through the lies of the emotions. Turn from looking at other people to compare yourself to them. Separate from all connections to those caught in the lie of homosexuality. They will keep you from reality and truth about yourself, about homosexuality and about God. Work to rid yourself of fantasy and masturbation which is another sinful way to perpetuate the lies about yourself.
Reject acceptance as you have known it in homosexuality or emotional dependency. We must build a new view of acceptance based on true friendship and love. We must purify ourselves by obeying the truth before we can love anyone sincerely and only then can we love our brothers and sisters deeply from the heart. (I Peter 1:22)
Everyone needs true love and acceptance but the addicted form of love and acceptance is a demonic trap to hold you in sin while you justify it by calling it love and friendship. May you find true love and acceptance and walk in the ways of righteousness and true holiness. God is with you and will set you free completely.