As I have been putting my life on paper for my book, I have learned some important things. The first, is that my book project manager/editor is a wise woman. I love how she has embraced my story as just that….a story. She has become a dear friend. She adds heart to my dream. It never comes across as a process with her. She makes it feel like part of a journey and I cling to her experiences and advice. She said I would learn new things about myself and heal further through the process.
As with all my writing, I try to write to myself and not “at” others. In the middle of typing while riding in the car out of town a couple of weeks ago, I began to see a pattern in my early life. I suppose I knew it was there, but the details of it and how far back it went, were eye opening. I grew up with an agenda to please people and to perform my way into acceptance. What puzzles me is where this came from. My parents didn’t raise me to seek approval or perfection. They were the first to be loving and accepting with each failure. So I tried to trace how it started. I noticed in detail how much the world tried to shape me to perform. For me, it started in grade school. From talent shows to p.e. pull ups to solos in the band, I genuinely wanted to be good at things. Who doesn’t? I was proud to be the daughter of amazing parents so I wanted them to be proud of me. Fast forward to dating and boys. The right outfit, right hairdo (a can of hairspray later) or the team sport you made often determined your chances with the guys. Then came college and working. Good performance equaled a raise or more hours. By the time I got to my first marriage, I had it down pat. Success was measured by performance. When I did well and things were good, I was riding high. However, when life kicked in and money got tight or there was a disagreement, there was oftentimes no performance solution and the low points set in. The emotional roller coaster began and the need to find something to fill the void became a quest. If my marriage wasn’t going great, I would throw myself into work harder. After all, we are taught to be good at all things.
I am the first to teach my kids to be great at anything they attempt to accomplish. I hear myself asking, “Did you do your best?” So as a mom, how do I make sure I am raising my kids with determination and self esteem without them measuring everything by performance? I simply remind myself and them that it all comes from what God can do in and through us. Our success is only based on taking everything to Jesus and letting Him direct how we choose, respond or act. In thinking about this very thing today, I thought back to the miracles that Jesus performed. Talk about some major “performance” moments and some big success in the eyes of the people surrounding Him. I imagine after that, His popularity was on the rise. Crowds began to form and people wanted to be “next” for one of His performances. Picture this. The disciples walk in while Jesus is praying and say, “Excuse me Jesus, but there are a lot of people out there that want an appointment with you. They are waiting.” Most of us would have dropped what we were doing to run out and attempt to meet the expectations of all those anxious people. We sure wouldn’t want to let anyone down.
That is why Jesus is so Jesus in Mark 1:38 when he replies, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also. That is why I have come.” Instead of staying and trying to take care of all the people’s expectations, he went on to do what he was supposed to do (remember he had been praying). I am sure there were some disappointed people.
We can’t be people pleasers at the expense of God’s will for our lives. God knows what is best and we are to be obedient to what He wants us to do. There will be people disappointed and some that don’t approve. As I like to say, “Take it up with God. He is the boss of my decisions.”
Can you relate?