Following Jesus | People Pleasing and Guarding Your Heart

Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Hi friends, I want to share some of the mistakes I made when I first began following Jesus, the consequences of people pleasing, and why we need to guard our hearts. The message of this topic is something that is still relevant for me today and one that I need to keep close to my heart. I remember having a conversation with someone a few years ago and that person was skeptical about truly following the principles of Jesus because the person argued that it would be problematic because it is contrary to our culture. The person even stated that it could be dangerous. I would be lying if I said that I haven’t seen persecution on varying levels or experienced some myself. Jesus himself tells us in the Bible that we will be persecuted for his namesake. Yet, as a teenager and throughout college, I began moving further away from seeking God because I was seeking acceptance and the world’s approval.

Seeking Jesus

Seeds of Rejection

There was a time when I wasn’t so careful and critical of myself when voicing my opinions and beliefs concerning my faith. When I first got saved I was a teenager and I genuinely thought that because I accepted Jesus that life was going to work out perfectly for me. Even though we are taught that the world would reject Jesus and I had seen movies based on the Book of Revelation in the Bible, it is different when we begin to experience that rejection ourselves. I didn’t belong to a church growing up because my family moved every few years (we weren’t a military family). I had attended church services, but I was never able to connect with people and share the personal intimate struggles of choosing to walk by faith. In addition to that, I didn’t meet anyone who was genuinely seeking God like me or just didn’t know that about them at the time.

I’m not a naturally talkative person and being around a lot of people at one time can suck the energy out of me pretty quickly haha. However, I love connecting with people one-on-one and sharing experiences, lessons in life, and encouragement. Because that was always natural for me, those around me would often vent to me about things happening in their lives and seek advice from me. Although I was young, I was a very observant person and loved carefully listening to older adults about their experiences and advice they’d give after making mistakes in their lives. I would truly take advice to heart. I loved when the people I respected took a moment to be vulnerable and share an experience and why the choices they’d makde were right or wrong. I feel like there is such a reflection of love when someone takes the time to teach someone something they’ve learned (especially if it’s learned the hard way). That being said, I was confident in the advice I would often give because I knew in my spirit that it was right. Most of that advice was against popular culture or the majority way of thinking. Therefore, after a while the people around me would call me hateful, judgmental, critical, mean, say that I think I’m better than them, etc. I didn’t gain those labels because of how I delievered the message, but because I was a delieverer of the message. 

Speaking Truth 

Upon reflection, it’s interesting to me that I received some of these labels (not to say I wasn’t mean sometimes or have my know-it-all moments) because although I have opinions, I don’t freely offer those opinions outright. Sometimes I didn’t even know why something someone else (or even myself) said or did bothered me in my spirit. However, later when I was alone or had quiet time to reflect, that is when God would give me revelations. I give the credit to God because it was like I was receiving the explanation that was beyond my own understanding. I would then become amazed, inspired, or in awe of those irrefutable truths that He would give me. I want to mention that I was introduced to my faith by my mom and she was introduced through her grandma, so my faith was not random. However, at that time I was slowly diving in to the Bible and it was my desire to live for God and follow His teachings. This was not the case within my family. I wanted to go deeper and though I still had a lot of work that I needed God to do in my heart, I was hungry and He was renewing my mind. Therefore, my way of thinking clashed with a lot of the ways my family members thought.

Eventually the persecution got to me and I began allowing the opinions of others to define my heart. It was pretty hurtful at the time, but I’ve since learned that people often mistake agreeing or supporting their every desire, whim, or feeling as love. We are expected to support every silly idea because we are expected to “honor their feelings.” I had observed times where someone would expressed that they wish they would have warned a friend, child, parent, etc. that some course they were taking was leading them down a bad path. Sometimes those consequences were destructive or deadly. So, I wanted the people closest to me to speak up about decisions that I was making that were not good for me. I would even get frustrated when I faced a consequence of a poor decision and someone spoke up afterward that they had already perceived that my decision was going to be problematic. I would be left thinking that if they truly cared they would have helped me see the possible consequences and offer me advice beforehand. Even so, I began taking the criticism to heart. I began to allow the desire of being accepted to compromise my values, especially giving the people around me truth in love. I was weary of hearing that I was “thinking too much” and I was weary of feeling hated or that I was a problem. The seeds of the world were planted in my mind and taking root in my heart.

The Truth Outside of it’s Context or Watered Down is Still a Lie.

Some examples of the seeds that I allowed to take root in my heart were examples that are probably common to what others Christians have also heard before, such as, “Jesus ate with sinners,” or “family is everything” even if you had to choose dysfunctional ways of behaving over what God was calling you to do. There was also, “you have to forgive” in the context of allowing someone to abuse you physically or emotionally because you are a Christian. Accepting these lies, I went forward seeking approval and began to lose my peace. I had also developed a lot of self-doubt about myself, my heart and my motives. This period of my life set up the stage for a lot of years of truly losing my identify that I desired in Christ and being lost trying to reconcile what I believed with the reality of life.

However, God was not silent during these years. He is faithful and He would reach out to me and remind me that He was there. He would speak to my spirit, but I felt confused because I didn’t understand how I was supposed to “love” and be “peaceful” and “honor my parents” and all of these other ideas that people would throw at me. All I knew was that what I truly desired in Christ offended and separated me from the people I loved the most. I didn’t see myself as strong enough to face the opposition, so I focused on my feelings of disappointment in being perceived as “extreme,” “holier than thou,” and a “know-it-all.” In my confusion I didn’t even pray about it or consult my Bible because I was disheartened. After getting completely lost and dealing with the aftermath of the messes I had made getting caught up in the world, I finally decided to turn back to the one who always encourages me, leads me, and corrects me in love.

Biblical Truths for the Walk

  1. God doesn’t want us to be people pleasers. (Galatians 1:10).
  2. He wants us to be holy because He is holy. (1 Peter 1:15-17).
  3. He does not want us to just squeeze Him into the little areas of our lives, He wants us to give up the life we know to follow the purpose He has for our lives. (Matthew 10:38-39).
  4. He wants us to love ourselves AS we love others, so we should not just allow someone to treat us in a way that we wouldn’t be comfortable treating others. We can communicate our feelings and in some cases distance ourselves from those who mistreat us if necessary. (Matt 22:39).
  5. He wants us to forgive, but He doesn’t require us to stay stuck or even reconcile in truly toxic situations. (Matt 18:15-17).

God is love. The same principles that people throw at us who seek God should be the same principles by which those same people are living. Otherwise their message is hypocritical and may most likely be used out of context. I don’t think anyone wants to be manipulated or controlled by a misrepresentation of their values. One of the most relevant verses in situations like this is found in Psalms 1:1-2 and states, 
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Walking by Faith

I have made so many mistakes on this walk that I want to share with you all because if you allow others to define you and manipulate you, you may end up lost, alone, and in situations that you never imagined for yourself. We have to guard our hearts, reflect on His word, and be led by that still small voice. We still have a responsibility to love and be kind to others, however people can be influenced by the darkness of this world. They may even have opinions, ideas, and intentions for you that are simply against God. We are surrounded by the popular culture of this world, but that doesn’t mean that we have to do what the world does or talk like the world talks. No one is more valuable than the one who died for us, who leads us, and loves us with a love that is beyond our own understanding. Even in times of trouble, we can keep moving forward, seeking Him because He has good plans for us. (Jeremiah 29:11).

I hope this will encourage you to seek God in everything and above everyone else. Take it from a girl who got so off track that I needed a map to the map that would guide me home haha. God bless you.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

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