Since the beginning of this year, one of the things the Holy Spirit has been repeating in my ear is “We are NOT people pleasing this year, Mo” [yeah, the Holy Spirit calls me by my nickname, so what? Lol!]. Hearing those words constantly made it necessary for me to evaluate just how many of my decisions were being made JUST for the sake of getting the approval of others. Even as far back as I can remember, my choice on who to associate with was based on who others would approve of. From best friends to boyfriends, I only wanted those that would validate me in the eyes of others. Thankfully, I was always rejected by the “in-crowd” so even when I was fighting it tooth and nail, God lead me to people who would be genuine in their love for me, regardless of whether they happen to be the most popular individuals or the most despised. As I began my journey into courtship, people pleasing was one of the FIRST things God wanted to rid out of my spirit. To such an extent that God would not ALLOW me to seek other people’s approval of my relationship. Beyond our parents, pastors and spiritual mentors, I did not say anything to anyone else about my relationship. God specifically told me that had I sought other people’s opinion or even laid my relationship bare for others to peruse and criticize, I would have immediately started finding fault with my partner and even with GOD and how He was moving in the midst of our relationship. So I learned, at least in the context of my relationship, not to live for the opinions of others.
Then God moved on to my friendships, associations and work in ministry. A long time ago, I made peace with the fact that no matter how desperately I had sought popularity as a teenager and young adult, I was not meant to be one of the “beautiful people.” God knew me enough to know that the type of attention I was seeking would have become an idol that utterly destroyed me if I were to ever receive it.
Okay. That’s fine, God.
If I wasn’t going to be universally loved, then I NEEDED to not be hated. That wasn’t too much to ask, right? The thought of someone finding fault in me petrified me. If I found out someone did not LIKE me or had spoken ill of me, I would literally crawl into myself and just cry. I didn’t want ANYONE to dislike me. This made it hard for me to confront issues head on. I would suppress ill or hurt feelings towards others because I was petrified that simply stating how I felt or trying to resolve conflict would cause someone to hate me even more. I became this insecure, self-consumed person who was petrified of one negative word from any source, no matter how far removed. Criticisms (constructive or otherwise) sent me into a tailspin as I would try my best to become everything to everyone.
Hindsight is 20/20 so I see clearly now how that mindset would have completely hindered everything I wanted to achieve in Christ if it had persisted in my life. However, people pleasing in my life took on a more subtle form after I gave my life to Christ. I would often seek multiple opinions about something even though I already knew what to do. If I made a decision led by wise counsel and others disagreed, I immediately started questioning what I had already decided. I would sometimes hesitate to testify FULLY of what God has done in my life for fear of being judged by present company. Even these subtle signs of “the fear of men” could have derailed God’s plans for me, especially in this new year.
This year is the one that God has set aside for me to publish the book He placed on my heart. As a people-pleaser, I could have NEVER publish a book like this one. This book is transparent, raw and unapologetic about the consequences of sin and the standards of God. I would have been too SCARED of the opinions of others to ever be associated with a book like this one. The thought of others identifying me with the main characters bad acts and failings would have been enough to send me running for the hills. A people pleaser simply cannot accomplish much and God has placed the desire to do great exploits on my heart. This desire has been ever-present, unwavering, from the age of three when I became aware of my “self”.
I finally realized that all of the things that God wants to do WITH my life are going to elicit strong criticisms and backlash from others. I had always thought that weddings were happy occasions where everyone celebrates with the bride and groom. I am finding more and more that weddings also bring out the worst in others, present company included. Planning for such a grand occasion gives us as human beings the perfect opportunity to be self-absorbed, selfish, critical, back-biting, envious and completely irrational in our motives and actions. So, am I suppose to remain single because getting married opens me up to a new level of scrutiny and ill-motivated criticisms from others? Absolutely not.
Mentoring and sharing my journey (failings and all) with those younger than me opens me up to criticisms and gossip from those who do not see me as a daughter of the Most High God but rather as the same worldly, carnal girl of old who now wears a cloak of perfection. Should I stop speaking the Gospel because some people do not see me as qualified enough or perfect enough to tell others anything about God? I refuse to back down.
Writing a book opens me up to the critique of others. Some will be critiquing my style, grammar, choice of anecdotes, character development and other literary aspects of the book. Others will critique my intelligence, my views, my past, my opinions and ME as a person and may find me lacking. Even THAT is not enough to cause me to disobey what God has placed on my heart to do.
This year is not about being cocky or alienating others. It’s about being so GOD-FOCUSED that I am no longer moved by the opinion of man. I am 29 years and 6 months old, and sadly it has taken me almost THIS long to finally be able to live based on God’s definition of who I am, rather than on the good or bad opinions of others – opinions that change like the wind.
One of my favorite verses James 4:4 says that if anyone desires to be a friend of the world, he makes himself an enemy of God. Friendship with the world is enmity with God. I don’t know about anyone else but I NEED GOD! I need God for my day to day life. I need Him to perfect these crazy, flesh-driven and subtle tendencies that are still hiding out in my personality and spiritual life. I need Him to teach me how to be a crown to my husband’s head rather than a thorn in His side. I need God to teach me how to fully honor my parents in all of my doings, from the smallest details to the largest. I need God to direct me in leading the younger generation to Himself. I NEED GOD! My need for God makes it completely IDIOTIC on my part to alienate the Creator of Heaven and Earth because I’m chasing after somebody’s approval. I can’t afford to be a people-pleaser any longer. My destiny is too expensive for that!
These are the confessions of an EX people-pleaser. Color me DELIVERED!