Friday, January 4, 2013

Confessions of a People Pleaser

I don't like despise letting people down. Oh, hear me out on this; I do it so much more than I really would like to admit. But I don't like it still. There is a gnawing within me to please those in my life. Some of that I think is good. I want to please my husband, not in a sick kind of way, but to honor him as the sweetest gift God ever gave me. I want to please my kids- not to make them happy because I don't spend too much time thinking about that (I want them to be content, a whole different thing, and that's another blog!). I want to please them because i love them, and I love blessing them. I want to please family and friends for much the same reason. I love the people in my life. So, when they hurt, I hurt. And when I know that I'm the cause of that hurt, well.. that just stinks.

But get this. Pleasing people isn't always good. Oftentimes, I've found that my quest to please some person around me has ended with me not pleasing my God. And I'm not okay with that.

In the past three months, I've struggled with knowing that God was telling me to step back from some things in order to allow more time to focus on the first ministry He has called me to- my family. I didn't really want to listen. After all, I like the things that I've been involved with, and why should I have to give up something in order to do more of what I'm already doing? blah blah blah. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was so brazen to think that I knew better than God what I needed.

And just as I was ignoring God's voice, we were hit with a situation with our daughter that tore my heart. While she was okay, we were made aware of things from her past that were ugly and heart-wrenching and called for some follow up from us even all these years later. I was angry that my little girl had to even give a second thought to the trauma she had endured early in life, and I let myself cry out to God that it just wasn't fair. In His quiet, steady, constant way, God reminded me that one of His gifts to me was to walk this road alongside her, guiding her, supporting her, mothering her. He was reminding me of what He'd been trying to say for so long- that I needed to focus more at home.

But I still didn't listen.

Then, in December, I came down with the flu. I was sick y'all. More sick than I've been in years. I spent the next week secluding myself in our basement, hoping and praying that I wouldn't pass it along to the rest of my family. I spent days mindlessly watching daytime television (this should be outlawed, by the way!), in a fog of cough meds and funk. I cried as I had to watch Ellie's Christmas program via Facetime (thank you Lord for technology), and I cried as I missed spending time with my son. But God met me there, and He gently reminded me once more that the people I was missing time with so much were the very ones He had been calling me to give more of myself to.

But I still didn't listen.

I recovered, got ready for Christmas, went on with life. On the last day that I was to work before Christmas vacation, I was preparing to leave when I bent over to pick up a simple bottle of lotion. The next thing I knew, I felt a "pop", then I could not move. I had messed up my back, and I was completely helpless. It took Jeff's help to sit, stand, move, everything. And so it was that, after a trip to the ER to determine that I had no disc damage, I found myself once more alone in the house, unable to do much except pray. And it was then that I finally surrendered.

I finally admitted to God that I was tired. As much as I was enjoying the things that I was involved with, I had to admit that I was behind in grading Bryan's home school work because I simply was rushing from one thing to another too much. Instead of doing one or two things really well I was doing more things only half-heartedly. And that included being a mom. I'd become bitter towards my kids and their activities, seeing things as an inconvenience rather than a ministry. I yelled too much, expected too much, griped too much. They weren't seeing Jesus in me; they were seeing a monster of a mom many days.

And so, I said "yes" to God. I knew exactly what needed to be cut out first, and it was so hard to write that message out to let those involved know. It was even harder to hear that I had let them down. I don't like letting people down; it's not my nature to just not care when others don't have a high opinion of me. It hurts to hear people tell me that they haven't gotten what they wanted or expected from me. But the truth is that God hasn't been getting what He expects and wants from me, and my kids haven't gotten that either, and my husband hasn't either. And well, those things have to be first.

My prayer as a mom is that my kids see that I'm a follower of Jesus first and foremost. I want them to see that I'm wiling to be obedient even when it's not convenient or comfortable for them. I want them to say one day when I'm gone "My mom loved Jesus, and she loved her family, in that order". I want my friends and co-workers to see that obedience as well. And they haven't in the past 6 months because I've been running from what God has told me to do.

  So, here's to 2013- a year of being more concerned with not letting God down than those around me. Here's to a year of serving my family wholeheartedly, cheerfully, joyfully. Here's to a year of spreading Hope and Grace instead of bitterness and resentment. Here's to a year of saying "no" when needed so that I can say "yes" without reservation when I'm supposed to. Here's to a year of authentic faith- unwavered by what others' opinions of me might be, standing firm in knowing that my Jesus loves me. Here's to a year of "boasting in the hope of the glory of God" (romans 5).