I’ve spent 21 years worrying about what people think of me. I’ve learned to hide it, to mask it, and to make it look like I am just a perfectly naturally pleasing person.
But that leads me to perfectionism.
It’s a horrible cycle, really. I want you to think I'm respectable, responsible, and likable— therefore I must make perfect grades, look perfect, do everything thats expected and basically just hold myself to unreachable expectations that end in a Friday night Netflix and ice cream binge because I’m so exhausted and frustrated with failing at things that were never really expected of me in the first place.
But I am learning that there is an alternative.
This year, I decided to spend time seeking out people who inspire me— choosing to surround myself with them.
Here’s the problem with that: our christian red flag goes up because we think we must love everyone. We must spend all our time being strung out by those people who want nothing more than to bring us down to their negative level with them. Now sure they are good people— they probably have a lot of potential— but its likely not showing now as they mope and complain and just live unfulfilling lives.
Let me ask you this: just how useful am I to these people if I spend the majority of my time with them until I’m completely empty and frustrated?
As I made a list of people who inspired me, I started to realize something. Pretty much all of these people don’t worry too much about what I think of them. They aren’t fueled by the perceptions of others, rather, these are people who look to Christ for their fulfillment and then have so much more to give to the world— and to the empty and difficult people.
The other thing that I noticed is that these people tend to surround themselves with people who are positive, inspiring, and confident.
Maybe pleasing people isn't actually doing them or myself any good [ shocking news, I know].
Somehow when I strive for perfectionism and these unreachable outrageous expectations and pressure— I’m pretty much bringing everyone down.
How’s that for a sobering realization.
I love creativity. I love art and beauty and spring and hope. I love taking chances, doing things that aren’t written down, and eating carbs.
I love knowing that I serve a God who promises us more than we could ask or imagine— who wants to take us on this crazy journey that is anything but mundane. A journey full of plot twists, excitement, hope, and adventure. I love when I finally breathe deep enough to enjoy changed plans.
"what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen. Repent just means to change direction — and NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their forefinger at you. Repentance is a blessing. Pick a new direction, one you wouldn’t mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon." -Anne Lamott
Friends, I am convinced that this is the kind of beautiful life God has for us. No one ever said it wouldn't be hard, but it's in the midst of struggle, challenge and difficulty the adventures begin.
It is possible to love people deeply, to humbly seek the good of others while not living by their perceptions. There is grace for our mistakes as we continue this journey of ups and downs, unexpected turns, bumps, rainstorms, and sunny days.
“If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." -Paul [Gal. 1:10]
I’m so thankful that God never called us to a mundane life. And I’m so glad that perfectionism was never something he asked of me.