Monday, December 8, 2014

Thoughts on People Pleasing

About 4 weeks ago, I walked into a chiropractor's office with complaints of shoulder pain, and walked out with the diagnosis of a partially dislocated shoulder, along with x-rays revealing a nonexistent lumbar curve, and a whiplashed neck. Talk about the trifecta, right? 

I had no idea that I had any lower back or neck issues. Whatever caused them most likely happened years ago, and my body started compensating as necessary. I didn't feel any serious pain, and any symptoms I may have had went unnoticed. So when I started going to the chiropractor 3 times a week to get these things fixed, I got a few "but you don't have any pain? why don't you wait until you know there's an issue?"

The thing is, sure, my body could continue compensating for these things for a loooong time. These issues could remain hidden for who knows? 10, 20 years? 

But do I really want to wait until I have surging pain to treat the problem? Nooo sir-ee. I do not. 

So how come I so often do that with issues of my heart? 

A post this long definitely requires some fun pictures. So I'm gonna throw in the documentation from our 1920's speakeasy holiday party, and we'll just pretend they totally correlate to the post, mmmkay?

I'm so thankful that just like there are chiropractors committed to refining the spine, there's a God committed to refining His children. 

|| And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. ||

Philippians 1:6

|| For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. ||

Philippians 2:13

Recently, God has been doing a whole lotta work on this heart of mine. Seminary school has been the biggest blessing, hands down. But you know what else it's been? Stressful. 

My reaction to the stress acted kind of like my shoulder pain; I couldn't pin point exactly what was causing it, but it absolutely alerted me that something was off. I knew I needed a check up, except instead of a chiropractor, this one required the Big Man upstairs. 

Just like I walked out of the chiropractor's office with a list of things needin fixin, I started noticing a similar list with my heart. Perfectionism, procrastination, these things that didn't show themselves too prominently without the pressure of school. But add deadlines, reading requirements, and essays to the equation? Let's just say I had myself some serious symptoms.

As I asked God to sort through this messy heart of mine, I started noticing some other things. I guess tracing an issue to its source will do that to you, like reaching for a necklace and finding it's tangled to another. 

Something I found? People-pleasing. 

Can I confess something though? I secretly hate the term 'people-pleasing'. I try not to use it for myself, cause if I'm being 100% brutally honest, that doesn't accurately describe what I struggle with. That's what our society calls it, but for me, it's just painting a deep sin in a prettier color. It's appearing others-focused, when really, my issue is wrapped in a buncha self-centered thinking. 

God recently took a big ol' spot light and shined it on this area of struggle for me. For the first time in a long time ever, I started myself some tough questions. And this process He's got me in? It's one that I want to document. Maybe for you who are struggling with people-pleasing too; but really, for me. Because oh how easily I forget. 

When I want to jump and offer to help, I stop and think: am i offering to serve with a genuine heart? or am i offering to serve to feel liked, valued and appreciated? 

When I'm trying to make a difficult decision, and I want to ask a friend's opinion: am i genuinely wanting advice? would i realistically change my mind based on another's opinion? or do i want to feel validated, and approved? 

I'm writing this post after 48 hours of asking those questions, and the result? Serious liberation. I've noticed that as I weed out the "people-pleasing" that is rooted in insecurity, I'm able to truly please people with genuine love. I'm able to discern when my motives are in the right place, and it makes the world of a difference. 

Most importantly, I'm able to identify the root of this "people-pleasing" habit I've formed. I'm able to clearly see that it all boils down to misplaced identity, finding my worth in feeling liked, appreciated, validated and approved by others. Instead, I want to recognize that I am liked by God, appreciated by God, validated through Christ's sacrifice, and approved by the Father, because of the Son's love

Thank you, Jesus, that just like a chiropractor won't leave a spine misaligned, neither will you leave a heart in the condition you found it. 


Alicia Welshimer said...

"When I'm trying to make a difficult decision, and I want to ask a friend's opinion: am i genuinely wanting advice? would i realistically change my mind based on another's opinion? or do i want to feel validated, and approved?"

Zing. Truth. Conviction.

I've been following your blog for a little while (can't remember where I stumbled upon it) and just appreciate your openness and sweetness. Thanks for sharing what you're wrestling with and for your wisdom!

Elissa said...

This is really true for me as well that I am not actually trying to please others but seeking their validation instead of finding it in myself.

Also, your speakeasy party looks like it was so much fun!

Derek Sparks said...

Wow! That's a barrage. That can be devastating for some, but I'm glad that you're pressing on. Just continue on with your therapy and treatment regimen with your chiropractor and you'll never go wrong. I hope you're faring better. Take care!

Derek Sparks @ Forgey Chiropractic