Thoughts on growing up

Melissa Ann Howell Schier
4 min readFeb 5, 2024
Melissa Ann Howell

As a little girl I loved, admired and wanted approval from my parents. It is not hard to imagine why. My mom loved my poetry and art, and my dad loved the stories I wrote. So I wanted to be better at writing poetry and doing art and writing stories.

But what I missed, and what I think a lot of us miss, is that I was already “approved of” just because I existed, as a child of God in my innocence and in my purity.

But I continued to think that approval existed on the outside and it was my job to gain that external approval as much as I could. Approval that sustains, and elevates and yet grounds us, exists internally, not externally.

And even though I went to wonderful Catholic school, and learned about God, that approval built into my existence as a creation of God, was not realized and I continued to think that there were things I needed to do better. I searched my life for things that were harder and more widespread, that needed my help, in order to feel valued and approved of. I became a candystriper and a first class girl scout, finished college…all great accomplishments but still not satisfying like I had thought.

Me as candystriper tall one second from left.

I would have felt more inspired and fulfilled if I had worked on my relationships with my sisters and family, helping them and supporting them, but instead I looked for friends who would approve of me.

The more my immediate relationships felt harder to get approval from (because I was looking at the wrong criteria…outward instead of inward) the more I struggled.

The deep and sustaining approval we think we need is not mirrored from anything others believe about us, but is mirrored from what God sees as true about us. We feel that approval the minute we start living our lives in sync with our creator who is all good. When we can see about ourselves what God sees about us, we are “born again”. And in this process, we can start with those in our immediate environment, finding interesting qualities to explore, and ways to be of service. That approval is as close as our husbands and children, or our sisters, brothers and parents, if we are not married.

I recognize, like a light turning on, that “God is love” means IMMEDIATE, and is right here right now. We do not have to go through any external gyrations to get God, or our parents or sisters to be proud or approve of us…God already does and we can reflect that.

And expressing that love right back, (by finding ways to approve of those in our immediate environment) is our personal reflection of God’s love and it is natural because God gives it freely and naturally to us, so that we can give that love freely and naturally to others. But we cannot express that love freely if we are cross, critical or doing things that make us dissatisfied with ourselves or others. (Jesus died on the “cross” of some really cross people huh?)

The feeling of needing approval was not because my parents did not approve. They did. But I still did not understand how approval is an internal thing… a God thing instead of an external thing…coming from other people. When a person is one with God in their choices, they feel surrounded by a sustaining approval that empowers them and gives grace to others.

But because I thought that the approval I needed came from others, when I did not feel enough from parents or siblings, I expanded my circle of influence and wanted to help people over here and people over there. We all know of so many people who want Global changes but they suck with their own families.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to help other people, and in fact we are supposed to help others…but it is not a substitute for living a life of grace, by listening go God thoughts, that allows a person to approve of themselves. It is in the doing of such, that we experience a kind of approval that surpasses any human approval…and in doing such, we find peace within our homes.

With God on our side, who can be against us? God derived choices are selfless, thoughtful and kind. They bring healing to relationships and health and remove stresses and anxieties.

I have been guilty so many times of ignoring my family and children, in favor of helping others who seem to express more gratitude. But I believe God entrenches us in things that might seem difficult so that we can be refined like clay on the potters wheel.

As I slowly recognized this, I have turned inward, and with introspection, have taken a stab at improving the flaws I have ignored, of impatience, frustration, anger and stubbornness and unwillingness to forgive. With God giving me the encouragement I need, with my daily bible verses, I am able to stop grasping at straws so to speak from distant friends, and can instead focus on feedback from my immediate family, and help satisfy their needs instead of my own.

Doing this for the past few years has been extremely satisfying, and I cannot say enough about turning inwards, when one is unhappy with life, wanting to blame other people in our immediate family. Life is good…life is GREAT…and other people, especially the ones closest to us…are our greatest gifts. God chose them for us. Growing up is growing inwards…towards God.

Bible verse randomly chosen for today is John 16:9

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Melissa Ann Howell Schier

HoustonWorkout on YouTube, mom of five, journalist and artist and conservative who values life.