Thoughts from a Recovering People-Pleaser

***This is a draft I wrote in May 2015 and never posted. But, after reading over it, I feel like it should be posted.  I still struggle, but I have made some definite, though small, improvements in this area in the past 15 months.***

Lately I have found myself having a significant amount of down time due to my lack of connection where we currently live – in Texas. We made the decision to move here after a year in Nicaragua because our roles changed within Metanoia, the missions organization we work with, and it made more sense to move stateside, but we weren’t ready to, nor did we ever think we would, move back to PA. But…hahahahaha…joke’s on us. We didn’t really take the time to discuss the Texas decision with God, and here we are, 10 months after moving here, getting ready to move back to exactly where we came from 2 years ago. God has funny timing in opening our ears and eyes and minds to what He wants us to do only after we’ve done what we’ve decided we want to do. Anyway, I haven’t made any connections with people or with a church here, and I do believe that is part of God’s plan. He has had me on quite a journey of self-discovery and self-awareness after 30+ years of not living into who God made me to be.

I have known for many years now that I am a people-pleaser. I cannot stand confrontation and avoid it at all costs. And I am obsessive about needing people to like me, even though I don’t really think it is statistically possible to have every single person you encounter in life to understand where you are coming from and to like you for who you are. I also understand that people aren’t thinking about me nearly as often as I think they are, but I still obsess about what they “might” think about me. However, I haven’t really known how to change any of this. It has pretty much paralyzed me over the past several years, to the point where I have let friendships fade and haven’t tried to make new connections with people. Part of this is because sometimes I get tired of putting so much effort into relationships that I feel isn’t reciprocated (but that is a flaw…I mean, topic…for another blog post). Also, I am an extreme introvert, so that doesn’t make life easier…

The book Everything by Mary DeMuth is hitting me right between the eyes because she has struggled with similar issues. As I walk this path of discovery with Jesus, I am realizing that when I worry about what others think of me, I am making them more important than God and what He thinks of me. He has created me exactly as He wanted me and He loves me infinitely more than I can understand, flaws and all. Most of the time, the fullness of God’s love for me is extremely hard for me to wrap my head around, however. I struggle to put my confidence in Him, which is what He promises we have in His Word: “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor. 3:4-5 NASB). In Everything, Mary DeMuth says,

When people grow bigger than God in our lives, we can live in fear of others, never confronting. Or we can value someone’s opinion so much we lose our own. Ultimately when others have more power over us than God does, we shortchange our walk with Jesus. We fall into control or fear or despair. But no one has the ultimate power to separate us from God’s love and His purposes for our lives. Our high view of Him should color our view of people. (p. 43)

I am recognizing more each day how I look to people’s opinion of me much more often than I look to God. Years of doing that has led to insecurity and a low sense of self-worth. When I have those feelings (which are based on what I think are someone’s opinion of me and may not even be close to what they truly think), I am trying now to focus on what God says about me, which is fact based on what He says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (ESV). This is probably one of the first verses that every new believer memorizes, and we know it so well that we often don’t even think about the depth of it, but really…who else has lived a perfect life and died for us even when they knew we would never be perfect, and would continue to hurt them? No one. Only Jesus. That is love and that is where I can…and should…and will…and do…find my worth.

 

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