I have a problem.
I care what people think.
Don't get me wrong, on some level this is an appropriate response. After all, I should care what my husband thinks. I should care how my actions reflect our family and the Christ we serve. I should care what those close to me think.
So, perhaps then I should say, I care too much what people think.
I've lived my life attempting to please people. People, for the most-part, who at the end of the day could really care less about me. I've done and done, all in futility. I've chosen outfits based on what I thought certain people might think. I've changed outfits because I thought they didn't look good enough or someone might think "Did she put on a few pounds?". I've been overly harsh to my children when they've misbehaved to appear like I'm on top of things. I've cleaned and cleaned my house, scrubbing showers and toilets, washing sheets and curtains, and cramming closets to get rid of the clutter so that my house would look less "lived in". I've posted cute pictures of my kiddos to make it appear like we have a picture perfect family (and yes, in a lot of ways we do, just not the perfect part) when just minutes prior I had been impatient with them for acting up and not taking 'photo time' seriously enough. I've bought clothes that I thought would make me look better, cover up this and that, or that would would make the kids look even cuter than they already are. I've shied away from saying things that needed to be said for fear that someone might not like what I said. I've listened to gossip because I was too much of a coward to say "stop, this isn't right.". I've missed out on making memories with my kids because of the fear of what people might think if they see my less than perfect body in a swimsuit. I've bought 6 or 7 swimsuits trying to find the one that doesn't make me look like I've had kids. I've polled Mark and Anna on how they look.... then asked again to make sure their opinion remained the same..... then again when I narrowed it down to 1 or 2.
Ahem. Yes, I have a problem.
That problem has extended to the core of who I am and what I believe about myself.... if people don't love me, then I'm not loved.
And that filters down to my children.
That's why the buck stops here. Now.
I'm tired of caring what people think to the point of changing who I am, sacrificing what's right, and most importantly, believing a lie that I need people to like me.
Christ loves me. And He is more than sufficient, friends.
I'm tired of sitting in my office telling people that trying to please everyone only ends in futility while I'm still trying to do that very thing.
I'm tired of my kids asking if I'm going to swim with them, their eyes closely watching me to see what my answer will be.
I'm tired of being offended when Anna says my belly is squishy.
I'm tired of it friends.
Because that squishy belly is the result of my three babies.... and a few too many sundaes (just keeping it real). But that's the reality. When I'm mad at stretch marks, a Pillsbury dough-boy belly, and the varicose veins courtesy of Emi, then I'm relaying the message that I don't like the price I paid for my children. And I never want them to think they weren't worth it. Lord, help me never relay that message to them.
I'm tired of opting for sitting out instead of jumping in head first.
I'm tired of clothes I like hanging in my closet because I think I look too fat in them.
I'm tired of being impatient with my kids so that we can appear like we have it all together.
I'm tired of compromising.
I'm tired of trying to please people.
Because doing so will never make me feel any better. What it will do is assure that I miss out on a lot of memories and live my life in constant turmoil wondering what everyone thinks... because it's impossible to please everyone.
But even more than that, when I'm focused on everyone else, that means I'm not focused on Him.
It means I care more what they think than what He thinks.
And for that I am ashamed.
Anytime I go to the Bible, it's plum full of verses reminding me of His love for me.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! I John 3:1
I praise you because I am made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well Psalm 139:14
“I have loved you,” says the . Malachi 1:2
I have loved you with an everlasting love; Jeremiah 31:3
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. John 15:9"Abide in my love". I love that part. The victory is found in abiding in Him. It's in realizing that we don't have to please people, only Him. It's in knowing that His love far exceeds any that could be given to us from those around us. It's in acknowledging that when we're upset about our flaws that the Creator of the universe personally took the time to create us. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 139:13:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I love it for multiple reasons. One being that when I hear the word "knit" my mind goes back to being a little girl watching my grandma knit and crochet everything under the sun. I remember her intently working on her projects, putting in a lot of time and effort, creating different patterns, stitches, intricately weaving in and out different colors to create something of beauty.
Friends, He did that with each of us. It doesn't say "He spoke us into existence." It says "He knit us together in our mother's womb". Even in the Garden of Eden with Adam, He had previously spoken everything into place. But with Adam, He created him out of the dust of the earth, forming him and then breathed life into him. He's into the details because He loves us. We're His creation, formed and fashioned by His hands.
When that's my focus, pleasing people seems to fade into the recesses of my mind. It suddenly has less of a grip than it did yesterday. I find myself feeling free to be myself.
I'm wearing swimsuits and swimming with my kids.
I'm posting pictures of me in a swimsuit in the river with all my kids.... with my less than ideal body.... with no makeup.... without my hair fixed.
Why? Because beauty isn't tied up in how small I am, what size my swimsuit is, or even what people think about me.
It's in knowing that the Creator of the Universe formed and fashioned me. It's in knowing that He loves me. That He laid down His life as a ransom for me, despite knowing there would be times I would care more what others thought than what He does. I'm loved, friends. So very loved.
And so I'm tired. I'm tired of trying to please people based on what I think they might think. Because the reality is they may think those things, but they might not either. And I've wasted too much time worrying about it instead of just living life and loving those around me.
So, today I'm "abiding in His love".
I hope you'll join me.