Are You a People Pleaser?

I was taught to share, so I thought nothing about sharing my grapes with the cutest boy in the neighborhood. The problem was, I went way beyond sharing. I gave him the entire cluster, leaving me with a lonely few in my small hand.

One day, while in an extremely generous mood, I nearly gave all my pretty dresses away to my best friend who had spent the night. I wish you could have seen the look on moms face when she came in my room and saw all the dresses she painstakingly made just for me sprawled all over the bed. I had to hang them all back up, except for the three she said my friend could have.

When I went to beauty school, I gave everybody free haircuts; family, friends, even people I didn’t know. I’m surprised I didn’t stand on the street corner holding a sign saying: Free Haircuts! Come one, come all!

Yep, you guessed it. I’m a full-blooded people pleaser.

Crooks and leaches love people pleasers. They latch on to their kindness and generosity like a tick on a dog and will suck them dry. When they’re done with them, they move on to the next nice person, and the next. They don’t love them. They don’t even like them. They just want what they can get out of them.

How do I know this? I’m a recovering, people pleaser addict. I’ve worn out many pairs of shoes trudging the suicidal path, losing pieces of myself along the way. Before I realized it, my life became a ticking time bomb  of fear, anger and rage, anxiety and depression. No matter how hard I tried to win the favor of those I tried hardest to please, I always failed.

One day I snapped. My mother had been in the grave for five years, and I was still beating myself up because I failed to make her happy. I failed to fix her. I failed to be the daughter she wanted me to be. Suddenly, in the midst of my turmoil and grief, God opened my eyes with a simple, yet profound question, “Are you God?”

That was a eureka moment for me. With those three little words, God reached down His mighty hands and lifted the world off my shoulders. With those three little words, He told me that contrary to what I was taught and believed, He did not put me on this earth to save it. I am a human being. That’s what He created me to be, and that’s all He expects me to be. Once I finally wrapped my pea brain around the truth of my twisted thinking, the demons descended back into hell from whence they came.

To an extent, I’ll always be a people pleaser. But I’ve developed a keen eye over the years and no longer allow people to take advantage of me. It’s amazing how easily “no” jumps out of my mouth, and how much I love the wide-eyed looks when it does. I realize that most people aren’t going to like me no matter how nice I am, so I don’t waste my time  trying to earn their approval, nor does God expect me to. Do you know how freeing that is? To have God’s permission to let it go and let Him handle it? Every single little thing? It frees me to be the best I can be without having to prove myself to the world.

We all want to feel loved and accepted. We all want the people in our world to be happy. But we must guard against trying to orchestrate that happiness at any cost to ourselves. We can help. We can guide and direct. But the rest is between them and God.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28).