This is my diagnosis. I struggle with chronic people pleasing…always have.
–I over analyze text message responses or voice inflections during a conversation.
–I worry about what people are thinking if I forget to text back, miss a bible study, or get tired during a night-time hang out.
–I don’t say things that need to be said because I fear that people might dislike me. I say things I don’t want to in order to keep someone happy.
–I get anxious about what people are thinking of my passions or fear that people are judging me.
The list could go on.
…but maybe my heart is the real problem; the cause of my disease.
There are times when I know that my people pleasing comes from a heart that is truly wanting to love, yet I am mistaking people pleasing for love. I let secret expectations, like affirmation or what I will get in return, entangle themselves in my desire to love someone. Then there are times, these times are often, that I just plain want to be liked. I like being liked. Who doesn’t? It feels good. Getting approval from others gives some sort of high or false confidence.
For example, when you get like a million likes on your Instagram or Facebook photo and are feeling gooood about yourself. You know what I mean? You are thinking that you are pretty darn cool and people really like you. False confidence. Or when someone’s affirmation or encouragement become the words that you hang onto to give yourself worth. Again, false confidence.
And what about the times that you post a photo and don’t get as many likes as usual? How do you feel then? “What’s wrong with this pic? I guess no one liked it..etc, etc, etc.” That doesn’t feel as good. Maybe I’m the only one who has ever thought these things…but I have a tendency to think that I’m not alone in this.
I think this disease is rampant among our generation in particular. And really, I think we all just need to see a cardiologist because we have some major heart issues. (Lol-med school wife jokez).
But seriously. What are we treasuring? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. This people pleasing disease stems from a heart that has placed its treasure in something that will only rot and ruin. If our treasure was Christ then we would no longer be slaves to the approval of man. Our lives wouldn’t be affected or defined by what others say or think. Our actions wouldn’t be determined by how we think people will react. We wouldn’t be concerned with success, approval, or appearance but rather we would be solely concerned with bringing his Kingdom here, even if it means losing it all.
Serving man leaves you empty, searching, and shackled; but being a servant of Christ brings the greatest liberty. It brings freedom. Freedom from the bondage of people pleasing.“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
No person can feed the insatiable appetite for love and acceptance. But God can. He is the only one who satisfies. He is the ultimate Physician, healing us from all diseases. He is the only place to find true freedom. When He becomes our ultimate, our greatest treasure, that is when we will be truly free.
Join me in taking off the shackles of human approval and finding rest in our Father, the one who delights in us and loves us more than we could ever imagine.
Photography: Emily Watson @ ewatsphotography.com