I believe the easiest and sometimes quickest way to help others is by sharing the lessons we have learnt from our experiences. I won't go into why other than to say that sometimes we are just not able to see the things we do through our own eyes.
What exactly did I do?
Well, I have done a lot of things in my adventurous life. Learning quickly sometimes, and suffering before learning other times. In recent moments of reflection, I've been looking at the way I respond to the situations I have found myself in and the relationships I have and had.
Why did I do the things I did the way I did them?
This can be a very deep and painful question to ask yourself.
I had to answer it and I discovered a lot of my 'foolishness' was because I was a people-pleaser. After my husband died, I was broken, I won't go into that now, you will just have to buy my book. I was dealing with low self-esteem and sort my self-worth from the approval of others.
Recently I was listening to a coaching podcast about love vs people-pleasing. It was an eye-opening episode and a confirmation of my past insecurities and behaviours. It validated my understanding of some of the things we accept and call it 'serving God"?
Now I am not saying everyone does this, but I did? Just carry on reading, at least to be sure you aren't doing it too.
What is people-pleasing?
People-pleasing generally goes beyond simple kindness.
It involves “editing or altering words and behaviours for the sake of another person’s feelings or reactions. The urge to please others can be damaging to ourselves and, potentially, to our relationships when we allow other people’s wants to have more importance than our own needs,” - Erika Myers
I discovered a people-pleaser is someone who finds it difficult to say 'no' to the requests of others. After saying yes, they make noise about their yes, because they knew they never really wanted to say yes in the first place.
They want to be liked, accepted and fit in, which can lead them to behave in a way unlike themselves, by mimicking the behaviour of those they want to be accepted by. Forming deep relationships is a challenge because this requires 'true vulnerability'.
Because their 'yes' was meant to be a 'no', they find themselves always apologising and take on the blame of other people when things don't work out. They have a tendency to overthink what they say, how they say things, how people will feel about what they say and even what they should have said.
Their need to be liked and accepted causes them to seek validation from external sources. They overcommit themselves at the expense of themselves because they feel responsible for managing other people's opinions of them.
That was me.
The biggest pitfall for me was I believed I was only worthy of love if I gave everything of myself to others. I believed people only cared about me when I was being useful to them, and I needed their praise and appreciation in order to feel good about myself. I even believed it was the Christlike thing to do. Rubbish!
Now don't get me wrong, I learnt this the wrong and hardest and longest way, but people did treat me this way. But it was me who allowed it, I was desperate, lonely and lost. I also misunderstood who Jesus is and what God's love to me looked like. I had religion and those around me had it too.
I neglected friendships and misplaced other relationships for meaning something they did not.
I became frustrated and harboured resentment, my behaviour became passive-aggressive.
Wow! This is not easy to share but it is necessary.
Many people's mental health issues are being overlooked because we cover it in our 'Christianity'. My freedom came from recognising what I was dealing with. It came in a place of finally having to face myself, naked alone and before God.
It does not have to be the exact same way for you but the first step to receiving healing in any area of our lives is to admit there is a problem. Don't give in to the lies of shame and rejection, get your strength my admitting - I NEED HELP! SOMETHING IS WRONG!
Let me break it down a little - frustration, resentment, trauma, behaviours.....
Frustration is a part of life, it does not have to be all bad. However, we all need to be aware of it and identify in those moments, what is making us frustrated. Losing someone or something, feeling pain or hurt, experiencing the unpredictable actions of others, all these situations can bring on frustration.
Your character is developed when you are able to deal with it - like sharing it with others you love and trust, having a healthy outlet like exercise, drawing, dancing or journaling or getting some counselling.
Closing your eyes to it does not eradicate it.
Passive-aggressive behaviour (taken from healthline.com) "can affect one's ability to create and maintain healthy relationships. People with passive-aggressive behaviour express their negative feelings subtly through their actions instead of handling them directly. This creates a separation between what they say and what they do." I have included some signs below:
frequently criticising or protesting
being disagreeable or irritable
procrastinating or being forgetful
performing tasks inefficiently
acting hostile or cynical
complaining about being unappreciated
displaying resentment over the demands of others
Looking at these signs what do you see? Can you identify any of these signs?
Being able to recognise what the Holy Spirit is revealing about our heart state is critical for our survival in our body, soul and spirit.
A costly price
In the context of this blog post, someone who is a people-pleaser can be easily manipulated especially by others who knowingly or unknowingly recognise their people-pleasing tendencies. A serious consequence of this could include financial problems because others take advantage of their willingness to help by providing monetary assistance to those who ask. There is a likelihood of being manipulated and/or mentally and/or emotionally abused.
I have to be honest I have wasted many resources because I wanted to please people, including to family, friends, churches, ministries and specific relationships. I spent money where I was not supposed to and was left with questions about my stewarding what was in my hand against the ignorance and fear of man. I gave and spent money where it was about my insecurity and inability to say no or to feel accepted.
In the past, I displayed these behaviours but I didn't think there was anything there to connect the dots. But His unravelling made me realise I had unresolved issues in my life. It was time to deal with them, the 'let go and let God" tagline had not worked. Why? Because I had a part to play in the equation.
But I am grateful to God because He never left me nor forsake me. He kept me. He truly continues to keep me.
Where does unconditional love come into it?
We need to have a good sense of self. I find it interesting how quickly we want to go save other people without first seeing how saved we are.
I want you to think of this for one moment, Jesus withdrew from the scene at times even though there was a crowd. Why did He do this?
Yet we find it almost impossible to withdraw, to say no, to let go - thinking we are serving God.
Unconditional love should not cause us to lose sight of ourselves - mind, body and soul. It should drive us to posture our heart, mind, body and soul before God and in so doing discover the deep of how much we need His Holy Spirit to lead, guide and counsel us. This is not a self-healing, independent process, but it is a yielded and on-going process.
Furthermore, brethren, we beg and admonish you in [virtue of our union with] the Lord Jesus, that [you follow the instructions which] you learned from us about how you ought to walk so as to please and gratify God, as indeed you are doing, [and] that you do so even more and more abundantly [attaining yet greater perfection in living this life]. For you know what charges and precepts we gave you [on the authority and by the inspiration of] the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, that you should be consecrated (separated and set apart for pure and holy living): - 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3a
Once I started admitting it to myself that I had an issue, God in His love and mercy began to show me how I had become. He showed me how I had used the bricks of my pain to build a cage for myself and keep myself in prison. I gave the devil what it needed to hold me in bondage - a slave to my 'pain'. When the reality was I was free through Jesus Christ - delivered from all things.
I came across a statement which said: "Not everyone will love me, but the One who matters will never stop loving me." Wow, that is the freedom we have in Jesus.
One of the things I have come across within the Christian environments I have been in is how the scripture is used to cover and ignore a multitude of behaviours and misconceptions. When Jesus walked the earth, He called people out from where they were. He didn't leave them trapped and call it love. He set them free and sent them on their way, His first proposal wasn't come and serve the ministry. He healed them and equipped them in freedom, and they went telling everyone what they had seen.
I rarely found that freedom in the 'church' and Christian ministries I was a part of. I always wondered why God always says to me, "there is much work to be done and there is enough for everyone". But I realise it is because each one of us being saved by Jesus, we carry Him with us to where He sends us and there are so many of us who need healing in order for us to GO.
In the place of serving, let us not forget we are people among people. You can unpack this how you want but I think it is always important to remember we are all individuals on a journey with God at different times and seasons. Yes, we must love with correction and discipline but also with understanding, patience and compassion.
We need to show more compassion and care for each other. It is something I trust the Holy Spirit to teach me as I start with the few and build up to reach the many.
What we need is to be more like He who saved us, Jesus. Luke 2 verse 52 (TPT) says, "As Jesus grew, so did his wisdom and maturity. The favour of men increased upon his life, for he was loved greatly by God." We need to grow in ourselves and in Him and grow in wisdom and maturity. Let's read it again, "As Michelle grew, so did her wisdom and maturity. The favour of men increased upon her life, for she was loved greatly by God." Go on give it a go and put your name there, can you see and acknowledge the difference in this knowledge? What would you look like knowing you are greatly loved while growing in wisdom and maturity?
It is my hope you will see and hear what is needed for you and I pray the Holy Spirit helps you to unearth anything you did, so you too can be healed and extend His healing touch to others.
"There is freedom in being truthful, at least start with yourself. Your silence may be fuelling a lie".
I leave you with this:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. - Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)
When we turn our thoughts and actions from pleasing others to pleasing Christ, only then will we find contentment, peace and freedom and be able to fulfil His purpose.
But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:9 (MSG)
Be intentional and allow God to help you with everything in your life, nothing is hidden from Him and He is so ready to lead you.