She tells me, “Those look cute on you.”
I wrinkle up my nose and squint my eyes at the mirror.
She’s the sweetest, kindest lady ever, handing me pairs of glasses at the eye doctor’s office.
But I’m a pushover. One slight hint of someone else’s opinion and I tend to fold up like a pup-tent in a windstorm.
I explain to her that I really like my glasses, the ones I’ve worn for 4-1/2 years that are now cracked, scratched, bent, and about to disintegrate in the palm of my hand. Can’t I just have something pretty much the same?
She says, ‘They are kind of small’ and points to a few pairs she likes on the shelf.
The pair she hands me aren’t really ‘me.’ They are cool and trendy, big dark frames in that funky retro style that looks great on everyone, but just don’t suit me or who I am.
In that moment, though, I question myself.
She says they look cute. She says she likes them.
So maybe she’s right? Maybe all those things I think and feel about myself are wrong? Maybe I just need to try something different….get wild and crazy for a second. Maybe I should be more stylish? Maybe I could grow to like them?
I feel slightly trapped.
Thankfully, I’m rescued from my decision-making paralysis by a friend who works at the office. She shakes her head, ‘no’ and I feel truly, truly saved as I slip those frames right back onto the display shelf.
I needed someone to back me up. Given just one more nudge by the sweet and gentle lady trying to help me pick out glasses, I’d have walked right out of there having purchased frames I hated.
And I would have worn them for years.
And I would have hated them every time I put them on my face.
And I would have hated myself for buying them in the first place, for just taking someone else’s opinion as truth without weighing it against the truth I know about myself.
That’s me. People-pleasing me. Indecisive me. Swayed by the slightest push from others and then growing all resentful at the pressure.
The trouble is that this is an opinion-sharing world. Random people in Wal-Mart like to comment on the groceries you buy and the amount of kids you have crowded around your shopping cart.
God does use people to speak truth to us at times. They can be a confirmation sent by the Holy Spirit or a loving word of encouragement or challenge just when we need it.
In Scripture, Job endured and ignored the counsel of his friends and his overwhelmed wife’s advice to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9 NIV).
For all their professed spirituality and theological ‘expertise,’ Job’s friends were wrong.
His wife was wrong.
But me, if I had sat there in the sackloth and ashes, would I have discerned the truth? Would I have held on stubbornly to that challenged faith like Job did or would I have begrudgingly given in?
I’m learning that I must:
- Consider the source: Is this someone whose input has value?
- Consider the message: Does what they are saying match up with Scripture? Does it match up with what the Holy Spirit has been telling me or is this noticeably out of place?
- Consider the intent: Are they sharing something prayerfully and in love? Or are they condemning and hurtful?
- Consider the authority: Is this simply an opinion or a way that God is speaking to me? (Remember that sometimes people even say things are ‘words from the Lord,’ yet they don’t mesh with Scripture or what God has been doing in your life).
In the end, I can’t be both—an obedient servant of Christ or a people-pleaser. Paul lays it down as an either/or choice:
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10 NIV).
“People-pleaser,” after all, is just a polite way of excusing the truth about me: I’m an idolater, worshiping the approval of others just as much as any man-carved image of stone or wood.
It takes discernment and courage to decide that “God’s judgment is the only one that counts” (Galatians: Gospel-Rooted Living, Todd Wilson) .
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King