This picture stayed with me for a while.
In the past, I have found myself acting differently with different groups of people and I often wondered why this happened. No question, I experienced varying levels of comfort with work colleagues vs. students vs. long time friends vs. new friends vs. family etc. but if I am being really honest with myself, I believe it was more than just comfort levels that determined my behaviour.
I was a people pleaser.
From childhood, I practiced becoming what I believed others wanted/needed me to be, so that I received their approval. And I became very good at it. Good AND exhausted. In my 20’s, as a young mom, I came to realize that I could not be everything to everyone. I will never forget the day that I read in Larry Crabb’s book, Inside Out, “Every relationship will disappoint you.” Initially, this was devastating news but over time, it became a freeing reality.
I can not be a people pleaser and an authentic person – so I have chosen the journey to authenticity.
To true self.
I have learned much about people pleasing being a dysfunctional behaviour and I am very much more aware of how easy it is for me to fall back on this way of making life work for me. But I have also been freed of depending on this behaviour, understanding where/when its roots were planted and learning to live with the subsequent awkwardness that “graciously refusing to play along” can cause.
I don’t want to be fake. I want to be the “me” who God made – nothing more, nothing less.
The shackles have fallen off. Some friendships have changed – some have even left. But there is peace and contentment. There is stillness and quietness. There is waiting and watching where God is going and cooperating with Him, rather than moving forward and taking control.
No more morphing into someone who is hopefully liked rather, resting in being someone who is fully loved.
No more rushing before grace. No more striving.
Don’t get me wrong – I still struggle. But less and less.
People pleasing is exhausting. There is no end to it. There is no point to it.
I have learned that I only have to please one person. And that is my Creator. I only have to please the One who made me and has a purpose for my life. This simplifies life enormously.
I only need one person’s approval – God’s.
Jesus said it like this in John 5.30: “I don’t try to please myself, but I try to please the One who sent me” (NCV). He said, “I’m living for an audience of one.”
The journey to true self is a journey of freedom, learning to become fully present as Diane, child of God, lavishly loved, perfectly accepted and fully covered.
I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10 NLT