People Pleasing (Thoughts for Lent)

“I know I am a people pleaser. It is hard to tell others with advice, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’, when I disagree.” Bells and whistles went off in my head when I heard these words come out of my daughter’s mouth. I heard myself. Molly is a wonderful new Mom and wants to do a good job. When she gets advice from everyone who has an opinion about what Baby Will should eat, how he should sleep, with what he should play, it is challenging for her since, as she said, she’s a people pleaser.

Molly comes by this trait honestly. If I were asked by an employer what some of my weaknesses and strengths are, I would have to put this on the list for both. Other assets that can be liabilities for me are drive, perseverance, control. I will push, hang in there, and don’t mind being in charge.

It has been a good thing that I could get lots of things done. I can juggle big crowds for entertaining. I am able to direct a group of people to accomplish a task. Keeping up with friends and loved ones comes easily. Most of the time everyone is happy, including me.

In recent years, these strengths have surfaced as weaknesses and liabilities. Mentally, I know that I cannot please everyone. There are those who think I am too bossy and others who think I do not give enough direction. There are some who think all kinds of things. Sometimes my words are not received as intended and people are offended. No matter what or how hard I try to communicate I can be misunderstood. Practically, I want to keep on trying with extra energy, effort and any tricks I might have up my sleeves. I am finding that it is not enough. This has been a hard lesson.

The bigger problem in this scenario is that I have wanted to keep on trying to make it all work. It was hard for me to let go of situations I wanted to manage or fix. As a result, there was a level of angst in my life. It would come out in emptiness– like I didn’t care at all. At other times I would have an overflow of emotion that I couldn’t contain.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend, Kelly, was a big help. She helped me see the bottom line to my problem. I didn’t think God was enough. Oh yeah, in my head I would have said that He was enough for everything including circumstances, relationships, or unmet expectations. I know He is able to manage, orchestrate, and change people and situations which I can’t. These words would have rolled off my tongue when sharing with anyone who was feeling frustrated or empty or helpless. The fact that Christ is enough for every situation was not translating into my everyday thoughts and actions.

During this important time of the year this truth is ringing fresh in my life. It is changing my heart. When Christ died on the cross for me, all my attempts at having to work out the missteps of my own life were accomplished. He took care of it all. My attempts at trying to please others don’t have to translate to my relationship with God. He is pleased with me because I am “Accepted in the Beloved.” All was taken care of when Jesus died for me.

Knowing that I can experience the resurrected life that Christ gives for my everyday life is a different ballgame. I don’t have to be “in charge” of other people and what they think or say. I can walk into uncertain territory knowing that Jesus will be present and gives His peace to stand guard over my mind and heart. He can fill in the blanks and gaps of any situation.

It is a huge burden to be a people pleaser and to try to make it happen for everyone. This burden and these concerns can be placed at the feet of Jesus. Knowing that God is my audience and that He is enough is a fresh truth to ponder during this Lenten season.

“To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
Ephesians 1:6 (KJV)


5 thoughts on “People Pleasing (Thoughts for Lent)

  1. Fron one “people pleaser” to another, I agree with your comments. I’m trying, with His strength and courage, to be a God pleaser. One thing for sure, you never can please all the people all the time. Better to keep our focus on doing what pleases the Lord.

  2. That was just perfect. Do I ever resonate with this blog. I needed to read this. It hit home and hope will open my eyes! You are an amazing writer!

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. So many of us can relate to you in both the outward symptoms and the heart issue. And we say amen! And we thank you for your beautiful way of sharing. You confirm what the Lord has been speaking to our hearts, and you assure us that we are not alone in this struggle. May we all learn to deeply rest in the arms of the Beloved. Jesus is more than enough…. He is our all in all, our everything.

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