Driving in the car with one of my closest friends came a song that inspired this month's blog post. It was a song that started off with a soft, acoustic guitar and then transitioned into an orchestra of other beautiful instruments. And, just when I was about ready to turn it off—because believe it or not, that's not my genre of choice at all!—my friend encouraged me to listen and pay close attention to the lyrics, so I did. And, I'm glad I did, because in that song were words that I've been trying to say for a long time, words that I felt that I couldn't say without being overly emotional (as I am guilty of being pretty often). They were words that summarized many of my prayers, many of the thoughts that run through my head, and addressed many of the reasons why I second-guess myself so frequently whenever I step out to try something new. They were lyrics that reminded me about the reason why I've succumbed to perfectionism, a suffering I can't say I've conquered yet.
What the reason behind all of these realities is, you may be asking?
The song we listened to that day was "People" by Jonathan McReynolds. I don't believe he could've written the lyrics to that song more accurately. Not only did he write it perfectly, but he gave me the courage to write what I'm going to today. As someone who suffers from the nasty combination of being both a people-pleaser and a perfectionist, I'm so thankful to Jonathan for being as vulnerable as he was in this song, and I'm hoping today's post can encourage myself and every reader to open up a little too.
Because one thing I know for sure,
we've all been influenced by people.
Whether good or bad, someone somewhere has left an impact on you that you can't seem to shake off. And, while I'm grateful for the people in my life that have impacted me positively, today, I want to talk about the fear of those who might impact you negatively. I'm sure this is one thing we all can relate to, where someone has hurt you and hurt you deeply—the type of hurt that felt like a little bit of your power was taken away, the hurt where your days became dreary, thoughts became dark, and everything you used to do with purpose turned into something a little less meaningful all because of the pain a person might've brought.
It's situations like these that make it a little harder to love people the way we love ourselves, as the Bible calls us to. They're the type of scenarios that make the cross a little more controversial when you understand that Christ died even for the people that hurt you. Not to mention, it becomes a little easier to take the damage one person might've caused and categorize every person who might look like them as the same threat. It's very easy to decide it's better to not connect with anyone at all.
But, don't get me wrong—and McReynolds said it best—people are one of the best things God ever created.
They can very well feel like, act like, and talk like the worst.
Because, I don't know if any of you realized, but some people are...crazy!
Some are mean.
Some are entitled.
Some are self-righteous.
Some are just plain disrespectful.
And, if I can be honest with you on the blog today, I've got to tell you:
It's those types of people that make me want to quit!
Because not only do I have some scars from the past, but I'm terrified of the scars I'll receive in the future!
Being as open and authentic as I'm intentional about being through writing, making videos, and all of the above, I'm aware that I am giving people—nice people, mean people, crazy people, trolling people—full access to tear me down. Whether it's some teenager who lives on social media or prestigious ministers on huge platforms, everything that I'm doing is eligible enough to be heavily critiqued.
And, it's scary.
It tempts me to quit before I even see the full potential of what God can do.
It makes me never want to write again, scared to post anything else, too afraid to keep moving forward.
Which is why when McReynolds prays:
"When You [GOD] said you can heal me from anything, did you mean people?"
in the chorus of his song...
...whew! I felt that.
Because it led me to admit another unglamorous fact about myself:
I care about what people think of me way too much.
People are one of the main reasons why I've held back from doing something I really wanted to. Because what will people think of me? Will they like me? Will they try to tear me down? Will they attack me? Will they take what I said and twist it so that I can be painted as a monster? It's why I freak out whenever I make a mistake because I'm afraid of who's going to disqualify me! It's why I delete a thought in less than a minute of posting it because what if people take it the wrong way?
I have lost way too much sleep obsessing over what people think, spent way too many days thinking about who likes me and who doesn't. I've let it bully me throughout the day and question what I feel called to do.
It's the reason why I always get nervous meeting someone new because of the pressure I put on myself to have a perfect first impression. I want to be liked by people! And, when I feel like I've won someone over...sheesh! I feel amazing! But, because I've been arrested by the opinions of people, the fear I have follows me and taunts me until the next encounter, encouraging me to keep being as perfect as possible so they won't stop liking my company. And, it never gets any better. I give myself no room to stutter or make a mistake because I hold onto their approval of me so dearly. And, the moment I feel like I've lost it, I become miserable!
It's a terrible cycle that I am thrilled to address in today's blog post, because you can deny it all you want, but I know some of you reading know exactly what I'm talking about.
Overthinking the right way to do something to the point where you end up driving yourself crazy.
Getting nervous to work with people you love because they may just see you aren't so incredible as they thought!
And it's one thing when it's a stupid illusion your anxiety comes up with, but it's another thing when the very intimidator you've conjured up in your mind shows up in your comments, your business, your mentions. It starts to make you wonder:
How can anyone be this way?
How can someone be so rude and short-tempered? Entitled and hateful?
And, the power they have to make you confirm all of the awful lies you've ever believed about yourself is ridiculous!
But, that's just it, readers. Here comes a truth I have to remind myself of daily:
The only power people have is the one you give them.
Do you realize that no one can make you happy or sad or make you embarrassed? They can't! You're the ones who give them permission.
Do you know how many times I've let people make me feel stupid?
And, do you know how stupid it was for me to do that?
I can spend my entire day being insecure because someone made me feel that way. How unfair is that! I let someone else control the outcome of how I spend my day!
Because of what they said, I now have to become a slave to it?
Yuck! NO WAY.
That's not God's intention for our lives.
If anything, He wants us to cling to what He says about us and what His word over our lives are. And, isn't that refreshing? That from the very beginning He destined us to be like Him so when we don't know who we are or we let people tell us who we are, we can go to The One who we were made to be like in the first place?
The Bible says we are made in His image, and later in the book of Psalms reveals that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. And for those who believe that Jesus is Lord, we are more than conquerers through Him.
So, to all of my believers out there thinking that everyone has to like you in order for you to be saved is a lie from the pit. People say a lot of things about a lot of people. But, our bible says we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus! Can you imagine if we submitted our identity to Him? Had enough of what mere people think and say about us and instead surrender it to the Father?
Sounds like a revival to me!
So, when I listened to Jonathan's song, I was encouraged to pray all the more for deliverance from what we're talking about today:
I want to be delivered from people who hate me. I want to be delivered from people who love me. I want freedom from those I adore, and I want freedom from those I can't stand.
I want to be free from people because I can't love them well if I'm constantly concerned about what they think of me. I can't move on if I let myself become a prisoner to their standard of likable.
So, I pray to God that He would deliver me from people!
All types of people.
Every kind of person.
Jesus, deliver me!
And, deliver every reader, too. Help us to walk in freedom and become intentional about learning what You say we are. Even further, help us to become the person You're calling us to be!
And, as McReynolds so beautifully sang in one of the last verses of his song, forgive us when we are like the very people we're praying You deliver us from.
Make us more like You—in everything and in every way—and renew our love for the same type of people You gave Your life to save.