A Matter of Opinion: Breaking the Chains of People-Pleasing

I looked ridiculous.

Standing on my deck in sopping wet clothes, barefoot with no makeup and my hair still not fully dry from my shower, I sprayed down a bunch of blankets and clothes with my garden hose.

Yes, I watered my laundry.015

I had a reason of course.

It was cleaning day (so unlike I Love Lucy, I was not dressed in pearls and heels), and sometime during my normal routine, I realized that one load of laundry had been shushing around in the washer all morning….as in, it was just cycling round and round endlessly without ever draining the water and spinning the clothes.

So, I pulled every last piece of laundry out and hauled it all to the deck.  Water pooled all over my floor, soaking my socks and shoes, and I stripped them off and plopped them by the back door.  After I had yanked out every blanket and sock, I bailed out the washing machine by hand, first in buckets and eventually with a tiny plastic cup.

I was pretty proud of myself for successfully launching ‘Operation Rescue Clothing’ until I realized that everything I had just placed out in the sun to dry had been hauled out of soapy detergent water.

So, clearly I needed to rinse it before it dried.

With the hose.

Naturally.

What else to do . . . drag it all back in the house, flooding every room in the process, so that I could rinse everything out in the shower only to haul it all back outside?

So, I improvised.

After a minute or two of standing there with the hose spraying water on my laundry, I realized I looked (and felt) like a sponge that could have been wrung out.

And it occurred to me how embarrassing it would be if someone saw me out there, looking ragged and wet and watering my laundry instead of my veggies and flowers.

But I shrugged it off because it didn’t really matter what anyone thought of me.  The fact was that I had done what needed to be done.

And isn’t that the important thing?  .

Unfortunately, not to me, not all the time.  It’s not so simple for me to shrug off the opinions of others.

Yes, I could be a charter member of People-Pleasers Anonymous, and this could be my own personal prison, the chains that keep me doing what is expected but not what God intends.

In the end, though, I know the truth that could set me free: God’s opinion about us is all that matters.

But it’s a realization that’s so hard to hold  onto.  I understand, I agree, I know it all in my head.

Yet, the truth doesn’t root itself deep enough in my heart to break those chains of people-pleasing and appeasement right off my hindered soul.

Here, though, I pause in my Bible reading to consider what God said about King Hezekiah:

“He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…” (2 Kings 18:3 ESV). 

The Message says it this way, “In God’s opinion he was a good king… (2 Kings 18:3 MSG).

In God’s eyes….in His opinion….

It’s God’s opinion that counts, that helps us put one foot solidly down on the ground after another, moving in the confident assurance that we are pleasing to Him.

In What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, Lysa TerKeurst writes:

God is the only one we should be living for, and we need His grace to handle the successes and the failures, the applause and the criticism, and everything in-between.  Sometimes our efforts will be fruitful and other times fruitless,  but as long as we please God, it’s all for good (p. 59).

John Bunyan wrote:

If my life is fruitless, it doesn’t matter who praises me, and if my life is fruitful, it doesn’t matter who criticizes me.

In Song of Solomon, the bride endured her brothers’ ridicule as they sent her out to labor in the fields. She begs the king, her beloved:  “Do not gaze at me because I am dark” (Song of Solomon 1:6).

That’s what she’d been told, the insults and judgments about her worth and beauty that had tainted her heart and mind.

But the king declares with love:

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4:7).

Others pointed out the flaws and others could have applauded her beauty.  Either way, she could have spent her whole life captive to the accolades, the pats on the back, the criticism, the naysayers, the insults, and the apathy.

But the King saw through eyes of love and grace and set her free.

This is all that matters for me, too—the opinion of my God, who looks with eyes of grace on me.

OBSBlogHop

Originally published as ‘A Matter of Opinion’, July 18, 2012

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 upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

A Matter of Opinion

I looked ridiculous.

Standing on my deck in sopping wet, raggedy clothes, barefoot with no makeup and my hair still not fully dry from my shower, I sprayed down a bunch of blankets and clothes with my garden hose.

There I stood, essentially watering my laundry.

Of course, I had a reason for this apparent foolishness.  It was laundry and cleaning day (so who dresses nicely and fixes their hair and makeup for that?)  Part way through the morning, it occurred to me that my laundry was taking an unusually long time in the washing machine.

As in, it was just cycling round and round without ever draining the water and spinning the clothes.

So, I pulled every last piece of laundry out and hauled it to the deck.  Water pooled all over my floor, soaking my socks and shoes, so I stripped them off and plopped them by the back door.  After I had yanked out every last blanket and sock, I bailed out the washing machine by hand, first in buckets and eventually with a tiny plastic cup.

Feeling like I had at least rescued my clothes, it then occurred to me that everything I had placed out in the sun to dry had been immersed in soapy detergent water all morning.  So, before it all dried, I needed to rinse it clean.

With the hose.

Of course.

What else to do . . . drag it all back in the house, flooding every room in the process, so that I could rinse everything out in the shower only to haul it all back outside?

So, I improvised.

After a minute or two of standing there with the hose spraying water on my laundry, I glanced down at myself.  I felt like a sponge that could have been wrung out and probably didn’t look much better.

Then it occurred to me how embarrassing it would be if someone saw me out there, looking ragged and wet and watering my laundry instead of my veggies and flowers.

But then I shrugged it off because it didn’t really matter what anyone thought of me.  The fact was that I had done what needed to be done.

And isn’t that the important thing?  .

Unfortunately, not to me, not all the time.  It’s not so simple for me to shrug off the opinions of others.  I so easily become a marionette in their hands, moving, acting, doing . . . every time they yank a string and make a request. When they criticize, I change.

Yes, I could be a charter member of People Pleasers Anonymous.

The opinion of others becomes god to me, more important than God’s own thoughts about who I am and what He wants me to do.

In the end, though, God’s opinion about us is all that matters.

Throughout the books of 1 and 2 Kings, God tells exactly what He thought about each particular ruler, ultimately determining whether a king was good (like David) or evil (like Ahab).

About Hezekiah, we read: “And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Kings 18:3 ESV). 

“In the eyes of the Lord . . . “

The Message says it this way, “In God’s opinion he was a good king; he kept to the standards of his ancestor David (2 Kings 18:3 MSG).

“In God’s opinion . . . “

When we feel the heavy weight of criticism and disapproval from others, when they try to slip into seats of control and force us to move this way or that, then we can stop and ask:

What is God’s opinion about me and what I should do?

Hezekiah was a “good king.”  Abraham was the friend of God (James 2:23). David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Mary was “beautiful with God’s beauty,
   Beautiful inside and out!” (Luke 1:28 MSG).

The bride in Song of Solomon declares that her brothers ridiculed her and sent her out to the fields to labor.  She begs the king, “Do not gaze at me because I am dark” (Song of Solomon 1:6).  That was the opinion of others.

But the king looks at his love and declares, “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4:7).

And his opinion is what mattered.

It’s God’s thoughts about us that should guide our decisions and help us put one foot solidly down on the ground after another, moving in the confident assurance that we are pleasing to Him.

Surely that’s what I desire.  Don’t you?  I don’t want to make it to heaven and say, “Look at all the people who thought I did a good job and whose requests I followed and whose criticism made me change. I pleased them”

No, I want to please God.

I want to be beautiful inside and out, beautiful with God’s beauty, altogether beautiful for Him.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Packing Up the Tent, Part II

You can read the whole article here; it was a news story that touched me.  In a special “renaming” ceremony, a central district in India allowed almost 300 girls to choose any name they wished.

Their families had named them “unwanted” in Hindi.

Imagine every time your mom called you to dinner, you remembered that you were unloved.

But now, these girls were tossing their parents’ burdens overboard and were framing for themselves a new future, starting with new names.

It’s something I’m guessing the two sons of the High Priest Eli would like to have done.

Eli’s name meant something grand and wonderful: “God is High.”

But, he stuck his two sons with some not-so-grand monikers.

Hophni meant “tadpole.”  Did he look like one at birth?  Had his father been unprepared to see the screaming red and wrinkled new baby look and tadpole was the first thing that popped in his head?

Even worse was Phinehas, which my Bible says likely comes from an Egyptian word meaning “Black One.”  If that’s true, that means the son of Israel’s High Priest bore a name from the land of slavery and a country with foreign gods.

It sure doesn’t seem like Eli set his sons up for much spiritual success.  Not at all like Hannah, who named her much-prayed for son, Samuel, meaning “Name of God.”

And the names seemed to matter.  Samuel became the great prophet and leader of the nation who anointed two kings of Israel.

Eli’s kids?  Well, Scripture tells us, “the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord . . . the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12, 17).

In Part I of Packing Up the Tent, I asked you to consider what impact you’re having on others, what legacy are you leaving?  When you pack up the tent of this world and head off to heaven, for what will you be remembered?

And now, I’m going a step further.

It’s not just a matter of what blessings and good lessons your kids will remember when you’re gone.  Not just the good advice or the good example.  It’s not just the acts of kindness that will testify to your love or the living witness you were for Christ.

We leave burdens behind, too.

So, what kind of chains am I placing on my kids that they’ll have to contend with later?

What kind of weights are we attaching to youth in our churches that will hinder their faith and worship in years to come?

It seems Eli didn’t really care about the burdens his kids would carry on into the future.

Most of us do this unwittingly, but nevertheless we do it.

I can see it in my daughters’ fear of the dark, fear of spiders, fear of roller coasters, fear of death . . . Yes, that fear is mine.

I can see it in my older daughter’s need to be perfect, to be the smartest, the brightest, the fastest, the first, and the best.  Yes, that unrealistic standard of perfection comes from me.

Too often our kids receive from us the burdens we’ve passed down to them from our own backs.

And too often this happens in our churches, too.  We weigh the youth down so much they’re eventually squashed out of the church.

But as long as we’re happy and comfortable, does it matter?

It didn’t seem to matter to Eli what his kids had to endure.  Nor did the state of the next generation matter to King Hezekiah.  He was a godly king who had relied on the Lord to save his people from the enemy.  When he lay on his death bed, God healed him and extended the length of his reign.

But when he showed off the treasures of the temple for some Babylonian visitors, the prophet Isaiah brought this godly King a message from the Lord.  Conquerors from Babylon would carry off all of the treasure and even the king’s own descendants would be carried off into captivity and forced to become eunuchs in the Babylonian palace.

Did Hezekiah plead with God to save future generations?  Did he get revolutionary and repent of his own sin, making changes so that his kids and his kids’ kids wouldn’t face captivity as their destiny?

Nope.  The King shrugged it off.  He asked, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?” (2 Kings 20:19).

In other words, “Why worry about them as long as I’m comfortable?”

Scripture is clear.  Our mission to tell the next generation about God and what He’s done for us isn’t optional.

The Psalmist wrote:

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:18)

and

We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done (Psalm 78:4).

The prophet Joel similarly commissioned Israel to “tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation” (Joel 1:3).

This is our goal as parents.  This is our mission in our churches.  And if we’re too busy passing along heavy and cumbersome burdens, then we’re missing it.  If we’re not dealing with our own issues and just allowing our kids to inherit our junk, we’re hurting them.

We need our children to inherit blessing from us, not the burdens we’ve been unable or unwilling to lay down at the cross.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Learning the Ways of the Ninja

For those reading Lisa Harper’s book, Stumbling Into Grace, along with my small group, today’s devotional will match up with her first chapter: “Ewe Scared?”  I hope you are enjoying the start of the book!

“‘This is what the LORD says: ‘Do not be afraid’”
(2 Kings 19:6).

I am in training to be a ninja.

Even while driving, I can instantly stretch out my hand as quickly as a frog’s tongue and grab a mosquito out of the air.

There are splatter marks on my car door from where I have slammed my palm down on the pests who foolishly chose to land within my reach.

For those bugs who play it safe and land an inch or two farther away, I have a rolled up newspaper on the seat next to me. I am a prepared ninja.

During the first few days of school, fears of missing the bus and uncontainable excitement lured us outside not five minutes before the bus came, but ten, even twelve.  There we stood, open to attack from the swarms of mosquitoes in my front yard.

I’m pretty certain I heard them sending messages to each other, “This family is out here every morning and every afternoon—just standing there in short sleeves and shorts with lots of skin to bite and blood to suck. Come over for breakfast and an early dinner.”

I have become a wise ninja.  Now, we stand at the front door until the last possible minute and dash out to the bus just in time.  The girls are off to school and we’re back inside before the mosquitoes know we’ve even been there.

I have practiced with the weaponry of the ninja.  After two days of discovering red bites on my kids’ arms, legs, feet, necks and even faces, I pulled out the bug spray.  We spritzed every inch of revealed skin.

But still I did not let my defenses down because mosquitoes are not always defeated by one weapon alone.  One second after finishing the spray-coating of mosquito repellant on my two-year-old, a daring and bold bug landed on her leg.  He mocked me as I stood there with my bug spray still in my hand.

I squished him.

In this all-out battle against mosquitoes, I am growing wiser and more capable by the day.

I hope I can say the same in my battle against the Enemy and the greatest weapon he uses against me — Fear.

Maybe you’re afraid sometimes, too.  It’s not a God-thing “for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).  If we’re afraid it’s because Satan pushes fear on us.  We must learn to recognize his tactics so that we can defeat the swarm of worry and anxiety he sends our way daily.

King Hezekiah faced an enemy who used fear tactics also. The king of Assyria had sent his greatest military big-shots with a large army to surround Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:17).

He had one goal—make the King of Judah so afraid that he’d surrender, just give up and hand over the keys to the holy city of God.

This was an enemy swarm if ever there was one.

The Assyrian field commander asked King Hezekiah’s messengers, “On what are you basing this confidence of yours? . . .On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me?” (2 Kings 18:19-20). 

Isn’t this one of Satan’s favorite attack methods?  He belittles our faith in God.  He reminds us over and over of the impossible circumstances we face and ridicules our confidence that God can save us against all odds.

But our confidence in God is never mis-placed.  Our faith in the midst of impossibilities may seem foolhardy to our enemy, but our God is faithful to deliver us.  We have hope because of our God’s character–His might and power; His incredible mercy.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote,

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “ Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:20-24).

So we must become vigilant warriors against the barbs of fear that Satan sends against us.  The times when we look at our reality and think, “Even God can’t help me.  It’s impossible.”  The moments when we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances and Satan says, “just give up; it’d be so much easier.”

Satan sometimes makes the road to defeat seem more acceptable with minor compromises that lure us into giving up altogether.  In the same way, the enemy commander suggested to Hezekiah, “Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria” (2 Kings 18:23).

When we allow fear to take hold, we give in.  We wave the white flag, accept whatever deal Satan is offering, and then run as fast as we can off the battlefield.

But Hezekiah ran to God instead.

He took the letter with the words from the enemy, carried it into the temple and “spread it out before the Lord” (2 Kings 19:14).  Then He prayed.  He declared God’s might.  He denounced the enemy. He explained the problem that he faced.  He begged God to “give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see.”

Then Hezekiah made the greatest request of all: Now, LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, LORD, are God” (2 Kings 19:19).

Take what you are facing and spread it out on the altar before God.  Tell Him all that you are afraid of and make a bold request—ask Him to be glorified in this circumstance.  “Be awesome, be powerful, be mighty, be miraculous—do whatever it takes, Lord, to be glorified in this situation.”

The prophet Isaiah sent this message to King Hezekiah, “‘This is what the LORD says: ‘Do not be afraid'” (2 Kings 19:6).

Then God, in a complete and utter miracle, defeated the Assyrian army and sent them back to their homeland.  And God was glorified!!

Don’t give in to fear, my friend.  Don’t give up and miss out on God’s glory.  Take it to the Lord and trust in Him to deliver you.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King