I was sitting down with my husband as he was finishing up calls (he’s on-call sometimes outside of the normal work schedule and has to answer phone calls), and I decided at that point that I would finally update my profile picture on Facebook to a wedding one – something I hadn’t done for at least a few weeks. As I was preparing to hit the button to publish the image, I called him over and began feeling a rush of hesitancy fall over me because I was thinking of what other people would think.
I know I have friends on Facebook that long for marriage and a romantic partnership, who I grieve with and I know the feeling of longing very well.
I have Facebook friends who I’ve shared some wonderful moments with me suddenly stop speaking with me without notice. They’re still Facebook friends with me nonetheless, but they don’t interact with me at all since I got married. It’s been discouraging, but I know I shouldn’t be surprised because I expected that to change some of my platonic relationships, anyway.
I know I have friends on Facebook who may not be thrilled with the fact that I have gotten married and secretly say negative things about me behind my back. I am aware of these things. The hesitancy to share was rooted in that alone. It’s not that I didn’t want to share with everyone how handsome my husband (still sounds weird saying that) looked that night and how grateful I am to finally be able to live with him, walking by his side through life’s challenges. It’s not that I am not excited to be his wife and thrilled to be able to create new traditions with him after years of living in different states.
I was hesitant to share because I thought about those people, who would’ve probably been thrilled if I’d fallen on my face in my dress or face-planted into a cake.
While I shared the image anyway, it was my husband that actually hit the button, while I screeched afterwards saying, “you really published the photo?!”
Naturally, he looked back at me very bewildered being that I’d just requested that he click the button since I was too nervous to do so, myself.
I’ve hesitated sharing certain information with people because I’ve feared their reaction. I feared the rejection. I feared the conflict.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a good thing to consider others. I think it’s a good thing to genuinely not want to cause your brother or sister in Christ to stumble. However, I am not responsible for anyone’s happiness. I cannot control how someone reacts or responds to what I share. I can be cautious in how often I share or what I share per-say out of respect for them, but in the end I still cannot control what reaction they have or how they feel. It’s foolish to think otherwise and assume that little ol’e me, would ruin someone’s day by posting a picture of me awkwardly (because I’m awkward) posing with my hubs.
Yet why do I care so much?
Even with sharing this blog. I shared it once on my Facebook and haven’t since because of this very same reason. What will people say? What if I come off in a way that I don’t really want to or don’t feel is authentic to who I am?
Well, you know what?
I am tired.
I am tired of caring about what people think of me, voluntarily entering into these mental cells where they don’t even know they’ve been holding me captive.
I am tired of seeking to fulfill people’s various expectations of me as a newlywed, an educator, or whatever else I am.
I am tired of seeking the approval of people when their opinions are always changing. Look at Taylor Swift for example. One day she’s fierce and in a hot second, people abhor her.
I am tired of caring so much that I am allowing that to form my decisions.
Sometimes, people can say and do mean things. Sometimes, people won’t always be as joyful as you are about something and will let that be known.
I think having a genuine heart and love for people is good. I think genuinely considering people and their best interest is good as well. However, when it comes to the point where even something as small as changing my profile picture, becomes a discussion about whether or not it would rouse irritation in some parties, is ridiculous.
If I am fretting over what people will say to that, how will I respond when people begin making public comments to me about my faith? The last thing I’d ever want to do is compromise my faith and the true word of God for people’s comfort.
If you’re someone who’s also struggled in this area and you’re tired of going around the same mountain again as well, I have a few suggestions in regards to some things you can do that I plan on doing as well.
Get Out of the Driver’s Seat:
I know this sounds weird, but the reason why I say this is I believe part of the desire to please others (the ingenuine form) comes from wanting to maintain or achieve some sort of reputation or avoid conflict. We foolishly think that if can just stay on everyone’s good side, we won’t have to worry about people slandering our name in the mud or creating conflict with anyone. The truth is, we cannot change anyone’s perception of us. While some people may disagree, I believe that once someone has their mind made up about you, there’s little you can do to change that perception. The energy you’re spending trying to change their perception could be spent towards something else.
I think one of the first steps to this is stepping away from the driver’s seat of the car that’s driving your towards the destination of perfection and let Jesus take the wheel (Jesus, take the wheeeeeEeeeel). Stop trying to control the way you’re perceived and feed on His word. While that individual’s perception of you may not change, YOUR perception of you will because you will begin to see yourself and that person through the eyes of Christ. They may label you a loser or a chickadee (is that even an insult?) or try to condemn you by your past actions, but God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God says that you are His and that He has redeemed you. God says you are loved. While this may not always take away the sting of feeling unaccepted, judged, or even misunderstood, the more we root ourselves in who HE is and who HE says we are, the less we will feel defined by what they think.
Fast from social media:
I’ve done this a few times because I felt I was too consumed with everything going on with everyone else. I was too consumed with what they would think or the appropriate time to post or how it would be perceived if I did not post about a particular comment or statement. So instead of continuing to drive myself insane with these expectations, at one point I stayed off of Facebook. While I think Facebook is great for connecting with people, I think a healthy break every once in awhile is normal and can even help with this struggle.
I must state though that fasting includes not just stepping away from those sites, but turning towards God in those times that we’d typically use them. So whenever I’d use social media on my phone, I would open up the bible app instead. It is not that fasting from social media is or can save us from our people-pleasing selves, but it does help as we seek to follow Christ’s voice and to tune into what He’s saying about us.
Remember that it is impossible to please everyone:
This one is a hard one for me. Sometimes, I hesitate to share what I really want to share because I think about what certain people will think of me. In short, I put way too much attention and am giving way too much power to people that are just as sinful and need of God as I am.
It is impossible to please everyone. Your post may encourage sixty people and upset three. Your statement may be completely fine with one person, but to someone else it’s enough to make them want nothing to do with you. The truth is, we cannot control these things and we cannot make everyone happy, but if what we are doing is pleasing to God, that’s all that matters.
What are some of your tips for people who struggle with people-pleasing? Is this something you wrestle with yourself?