Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When Pleasing Others Hurts You

How did I know my drive (overdrive, really) to bring you food when you were sick, pick up your child after school while you earned your degree, or make everything from scratch while preserving fruits, vegetables, jellies, and jams for gifts actually stemmed from a need to please? For Pete’s sake … give me a break! Well, those of us for whom doing too much is never enough and more is always better finally hit the wall and begin to catch on. Maybe this isn’t as good as it looks, even when the applause drove our bus! Of course, some of that busy-ness was fruitful. Eating my frozen fruits and vegetables during the winters saved a ton of money. But enough is enough, and I didn’t know that. Now, 20 years after working hard to decide what is appropriate and what is unnecessary and over-done, I am more content and save myself better than ever for the things that matter most. It may not take you that long, especially since you get to listen to fabulous Woman to Woman shows like this week with David Hawkins, Ph.D.! He’s a psychologist with 20 years of counseling experience, and he pretty much nails it. His specialty is helping couples and individuals strengthen their relationships. (Yeah, pleasing others can kill relationships. Find out how before you have to bury some of your favorites!)

You see, we have to learn to responsibly care for ourselves if we are to responsibly care for others. Especially as Christians who serve, we can forfeit our God-given calling and identity in order to please others. And then we go from servanthood to co-dependency. So let’s, instead, move on from losing ourselves as we try to please others, to finding ourselves in God’s plan to lovingly serve Him and be fulfilled in the process. You’ll pick up on why you have trouble saying, “No,” and why you feel accepted only when you’re “producing.” And the really cool part is you’ll learn how to experience deep joy and peace from serving others out of your abundance, not your need. And there is a big difference there! The Bible puts it this way, with the emphasis on the last sentence:

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load” (Galatians 6:2-5).

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