Faith Reflections,  My Life

People Pleasing Problems

grace is contagious
I’ve been a people pleaser for most of my life. With a basic need to love and be loved, humanity continually fights the temptation to manipulate others in order to be loved. If we are honest with ourselves, people pleasing is manipulation. It may not seem that way to us because we don’t feel we are evil, mean or selfish in trying to please others. We convince ourselves that it is truly to make the other person happy; that we sincerely are trying to please them for their pleasure.
But it is really for our own.
The reward we seek is the other thinking more highly of us, more fondly of us.  We seek to be valued and to be loved. Even just to simply be liked because we aren’t sure that it can happen apart from pleasing others.
But it can.
I know, I know. God loves me. God thinks I’m special and worthy.  But honestly – doesn’t it feel similar to when your mom would say, “Well, your dad and I love you.” and you retorted, “It doesn’t count. You have to love me.”
Technically, they don’t.   
We see it on occasion; at the very least, we see the effects of a parent who chose not to love his or her child and it can be heart-wrenching. Parents make daily choices to love their children – irregardless of whether a child is pleasing them or not.  And let’s be honest, a good majority of the time as children we weren’t very pleasing. If there was a button, we pushed it.  If there was a line, we crossed it.
The same can be said about our relationship with God. If God’s love for me was based on whether I pleased God, I’d be up a creek without a paddle – and without much love to keep me afloat. I’m unfaithful. I’m self-absorbed. I don’t trust God. I constantly take the reins (reign) from Him. I question everything and break promises left and right.
Yet, God chooses me.  And not reluctantly or begrudgingly like the last pick for dodgeball. I’m first choice. And you are too.
It is tempting to go back and think about all the time and dreams I’ve chosen to give up to please others. It doesn’t take me very long before I get queazy and depressed over how much I’ve willingly sabotaged myself in order to make someone else happy to convince someone to think I’m awesome sauce.
But God reminds me that He doesn’t rehash things with me. When I return to God, She doesn’t ask me to sit down followed by a detailed list of grievances and suggested restitutions. Instead, God floods my life with grace – unmerited love; favor that is not required. Favor that I never manipulated or gained by pleasing God! How refreshing that is to the soul that is exhausted from empty and fruitless attempts to earn or keep favor!
So, if God deems me worthy of grace than perhaps I should follow His lead and give myself some grace too. And while I’m at it, I’ll extend that same grace to you and so forth. Because grace is contagious. Something tells me that this is the way God designed it to work from the beginning.
I use to let others determine my fair market value. Now I know God’s extravagant love makes me invaluable.


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