On people pleasing...
Hello all you out there in cyberspace. I trust that it's been a wonderful start to the summer. I have a confession to make. It seems that I still have a loooot to learn when it comes to valuing the opinion of others, because God keeps dropping it into my lap.
Recently I had the wonderful opportunity of speaking to a book club about 'Running the Good Race'. It was a fantastic chance for me to be out there and to let people get to know me in a more personal manner. I'm not comfortable speaking in front of people, I'd rather sit behind my computer and pretend that I am, kind of like now. As I prepared for this event, the thought that continually went through my mind was, How can I get them to like me. Shocker, right? I became so nervous that my stomach was in a continual knot, not a very comfortable experience.
A few days before the event, which was in the town I used to live in for 22 years, I was so nervous that it began to effect everyone around me (When Mom's happy, everyone is. When she's not – watch out!). My husband and youngest son finally had enough of my fretting and asked what my problem was. I told them that I was nervous about speaking and that I wanted everyone to like me. My husband, always such a wise man, just looked at me and said, “The only one you have to please is God.”
I let that one marinate for a couple of hours. Low and behold... I started to be able to breathe easier. The stomach thing went away. On the day of the event, I consciously kept telling myself that nobody else mattered but God, and to just let that come through. I had a wonderful time, by the way. For the first time when I stood in front of people I wasn't nervous! I'm serious. No little tingles of nerves, no heart fluttering. I was excited and happy to be there. Because I finally understood that Tom was right.
God was the only one whose opinion of me mattered.
And He already approves.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Gal 2:20, 21
I am living for an audience of one!
I am beloved and beautifully made in His image.
I've always been a peacemaker, a people-pleaser. Back when I was a kid, I tried to make everyone happy. It was impossible and so I felt like a failure. All my life, I've felt like that. It's interesting how that has translated into my adult life. If my family didn't agree with each other, I felt like I had failed them. I've worked so hard to make everyone happy, to make everyone have a good life. My oldest had to be entertained... all the time! I'd fret if he didn't have anything to do to occupy himself with.
I felt like a failure if he was bored!
My beautiful daughter had trouble speaking and it was my fault! Oh yes, people. When she wasn't accepted or left out, it was my fault. Mmmmm... If my husband didn't have a good day, guess what?!? My fault!!! How can I possibly be responsible for that? Oh... my... word!
I guess I'm in the wrong business if I ever want to get rid of this. God has His ways of removing things from our lives. It takes work on our part to follow and be obedient when He brings them to our attention. And it's His job to remove it from our hearts. That's not on me.
As an author I have to care what my audience thinks. As we were discussing the book, all I could think of was, Oh, what if I made a mistake and they didn't like it. Turns out they did like it. But does that really, honestly matter? My desire to please others is quite altruistic, believe me. I want people to be happy. I want to help them. According to my devotional, a lovely book by Lucinda Secrest McDowell called Ordinary Graces, it becomes a problem “when outside affirmation guides us more than inner conviction.” (p33, 2017)
Guess what my devotion was this morning. Yep. I was on peer pleasing. (Thanks, Lord)
This peer pleasing junk is robbing me of my joy, of my enjoyment of this time. I should be resting in His grace, relying on His provisions. Instead, I'm constantly seeking more approval. Oh, how many followers do I have on Twitter now? Nobody commented on my blog or my post.
My thinking should be centered on one thing.
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Gal 1:10
I need grace, not more followers. I need to please an audience of one. Jesus. I can never let Him down by not being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. I hope this gives you encouragement as you go on with your day. God will shine light on our problems and will eradicate them, if we step back to let Him. I'm well on my way (hopefully) of shedding myself of this lifelong habit to please others. It's just going to take some obedience on my part to follow through.
I leave you with this thought. Real peacmakers don't seek to please people or make peace with people. They seek a relationship with Christ and the chance to bring others into it.
If you came up to me and asked what I do, I'd have to tell you that I'm a wife, mother and teacher. A writer? you ask. Wow. Now that is something I never thought I'd be. But through God, all things are possible.