Why Choosing New Glasses is Hard When You’re a People-Pleaser (Like Me)

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.

Sometimes, though, they are just people—friends, loved ones, random shoppers with opinions.galatians1

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:

  1. Consider the source:  Is this someone whose input has value?
  2. 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?
  3. Consider the intent: Are they sharing something prayerfully and in love?  Or are they condemning and hurtful?
  4. 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

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.