"My heart cries for acceptance, for love."
"My heart cry is to be cherished. I want to be loved, really loved."
"My heart’s longing is for people to love me. Some days I barely feel noticed, let alone loved."
These are among the many brave comments left under a post Paula wrote weeks ago about the heart cry of one little boy. (Read that post here.) I can relate to every single one of you who feels like you will never be loved enough, cherished enough, or noticed often enough. I’ve spent much of my life craving human attention and feeling mostly disappointed.
I don’t know your stories. I don’t know if you really do have anyone who notices you, cherishes you, or loves you. It may be that those needs truly are going unmet by the people in your life. It may also be (and seems more likely) that you are loved deeply, but somehow it just isn’t enough for you.
I’ve seen it before. The stories of several Hollywood superstars come to mind. They have millions of adoring fans. They have people paying to put their smile on magazine covers. They have lots of people telling them how fabulous they are. They are noticed. They are accepted. They are loved, and yet . . . more often than not, they self-destruct. Somehow all the praise in the world just can’t fill them up.
I think I know why. For a visual, let’s think of our need to be noticed, loved, and accepted like an empty bucket. We think, If I was just loved unconditionally by one person, my bucket would be full, or If more people just noticed me, my bucket would be full, or If someone just truly cherished me, that would fill my bucket up. But we find ourselves disappointed and our buckets empty over and over again.
"For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jer. 2:13, emphasis added).
To understand that "fountain of living waters" business, we have to skip ahead in the Bible to Jesus’ earthly ministry. In John 4:1–26 we find the story of a woman who really wanted to be noticed. The Bible tells us she jumped from romantic relationship to romantic relationship hoping to satisfy her deepest longings. Been there? Done that? But sadly, she found that looking to guys to scratch her itch to be loved was like pouring water into a leaky bucket.
Jesus looked at her leaky bucket and offered her "living water." His point was that only God could truly satisfy the longings of her heart. Looking to Him to meet our deepest needs is the only way to quench our insatiable thirst for more. More love . . . more attention . . . more compliments . . . more significance.
Think back to that passage from Jeremiah. God is comparing two realities here.
The people of Jeremiah’s day had stopped looking to God for their satisfaction. I don’t know who or what they were hoping would make them feel okay, but it doesn’t matter. The result was like pouring water into a leaky bucket. It just didn’t work.
You see the answer isn’t to be noticed more often, loved by more people, or cherished more deeply. The answer is to know that God has already noticed you. In fact, He studies you. (Matthew 10:30 says He knows the very number of hairs on your head.) He loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you (John 3:16). He cherishes you like a father cherishes His own daughter (Rom. 8:15).
The trick is to let that be enough—to let the truth about who you are to the God of the universe fill your bucket instead of constantly looking to the people in your world to make you feel noticed.
It’s not an easy switch to make. Praise from people seems so tangible sometimes compared to the affirmation we find in God’s Word, but ultimately it is just like pouring water into a leaky bucket. It never lifts our spirits for long.
How about you? Have you been pouring water into a leaky bucket? Looking to the people around you to make you feel loved and important? I hate to go all Dr. Phil on you, but how is that working for you?
If your bucket’s sprung a leak, let me offer you a patch kit. God alone is able to fill you up and answer your heart’s cry. He’s the only one offering "living water" that can take away our thirst for good.
I’d like to ask you to make a choice.
Option #1: Leaky bucket.
Choosing this route means continuing to look to other people to make you feel loved, accepted, and cherished. You should know up front that this route never works for long.
Option #2: Living water.
You make the choice to let God satisfy your craving to be loved. You study what He says about you in His Word, and you choose to believe it even if your feelings tell you otherwise.
Which one will you choose? Leave us a comment below to tell us about it.