This past weekend, I was riding around with my wife, listening to music. The song “Rocket” by The Smashing Pumpkins came on. I have probably heard this song no less than 10,000 times (I am a huge Pumpkins’ fan), but for some reason on this particular day, the meaning of this song really jumped out at me like never before. Here are the lyrics that caught me initially:

I torch my soul to show
The world that I am pure
Deep inside my heart
No more lies

Keep in mind, this is my interpretation of the song, but I hear the songwriter, Billy Corgan, struggling with the fact that he has been trying so hard to earn other people’s approval that he has lost himself in the process. If you listen to the whole song, not just the lyrics above, Corgan goes further to state that he misses himself, the REAL man behind all the masks he wears to try to convince others he is something he is not. He has had glimpses of who he really is, but it has faded to only a dream now. He buys into the lie that there is something inherently wrong with him, so he needs to hide himself and be what he thinks others want him to be. Apparently others have made comments confirming the lie, and he has bought into them wholeheartedly. However, he has grown weary of living a lie and wants to be free…free to be himself and not just an actor (hypocrite) for those around him. He desires to “bleed in his own light” and actually live the life he has been dreaming about: being who he was created to be, whatever that may look like…free from the critical voices of all the people around him.

We lose ourselves in the endless, exhausting goal of trying to please others.

I know everyone is not like me. Some are huge people pleasers, some are not. I see myself looking to a few voices in my life at a time, never too many, but just enough to get me off track at times (it doesn’t take much of looking to what others think to make one stumble). The Enemy loves to heap condemnation on me through not only my struggle with failures, but what others might think of those failures. I begin to think, at times, that maybe God looks at me the same way…disappointed with me, shaking His head at my performance that’s never quite good enough.

Paul talked about being a people pleaser:

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10, ESV)

When I catch myself trying to please others, worrying myself over getting their approval, I am not serving Christ. People, or at least their opinion of me, becomes not only my focus, but my idol. In those moments when their approval is my priority, I am giving them the power to tell me who I am. My identity rests in the hands of those that I look to for acceptance. If they disapprove of me, I believe I am worthless. If they approve of me, I feel great temporarily, but then I have to work hard to keep the approval coming, losing any sense of who God really created me to be in the process. Like Corgan masterfully said in the song, “I torch my soul” trying to prove myself.

Walking by Grace through Faith is so tough. The fear of what others think is a sinister weapon of the Enemy that I need to make myself aware of on a daily basis. Surrendering to God and holding onto His Truth concerning my identity in my Savior Jesus Christ is the only thing that will set me free…free from the drive to please others, free from the condemnation felt in the criticism others dish out, and free to be the man God created me to be. No matter how I feel or what others say, I am who God says I am, and He is pleased with me.

God’s Truth and Love sends us soaring away from the voices that drag us down and into what He has planned for us.

The song title, again, is “Rocket”. I believe Corgan intended this to illustrate his freedom as he rockets away in the sky, away from all the phony masks he has created in attempts to gain the approval of others. At the risk of sounding a bit cheesy here, I guess the real rocket for us is made up of God’s Truth and Love. Without truth, we would remain slaves to what others think of us, or some other worthless idol that only keeps us meandering around on the ground instead of soaring off into the sky to experience what God has planned for us. Without His unconditional love, we would feel hopelessly lost and rejected. We would be stranded in the dirt, held down by our insufficient efforts to garner some sense of acceptance and love.


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