I’ve been talking to a friend lately who has recently made some changes in her life. I’m so proud of her for making these changes and I love to rejoice with her over the small joys that she is finding along this new path. Her decision has led her to be happier, healthier, and to experience freedom that she didn’t have before.
But I’ve realized that in the midst of her new found joy, she’s also experienced shame and embarrassment and condemnation from others. Some might think that she has taken the easy road. From the outside looking in, it might appear that she made the wrong choice, the selfish choice. It’s so easy to judge the circumstances of others before we’ve taken the chance to learn the perspective on the inside.
And I worry for my friend as she is experiencing these self doubts and insecurities as she wonders if the opinions of others have any validity. I wish I could just grab her by the shoulders and ask,
“Don’t you realize that you were created to be free?”
“Don’t you understand that your life is meant to be filled with joy?”
How often do we allow our fears of what other people think to hold us back from pursuing our God given dream?
Have you ever found yourself making decisions based on what will be most pleasing to the people around you instead of considering what is the best decision?
People pleasing is a popular thing to do. Most all of us want to make the people around us like us, we want to make decisions that others agree with. We aim to please in all that we do to avoid ruffling feathers or facing confrontations.
This is often a good thing. Our culture feeds into us a whole lot of selfishness, so its good to consider the feelings of others when making important decisions. But sometimes, people pleasing leads us down a path of heartache.
Sometimes, making decisions that ruffle the least feathers moves our own life away from the abundance and the joy that God is just waiting to bless us with.
Sometimes, choosing the popular choice takes us down the busy, hectic, well traveled road instead of the quiet, serene less traveled road that God perfectly designed specifically for us.
It’s a good thing to consider the advice and opinions of others when making important decisions. But it’s also important to remember that sometimes the best choice will be frowned upon by the majority.
Occasionally the wisest decision might appear somewhat selfish. It might look like the easy path. And it might upset some of the people around us. But if that path leads you closer to things like love, joy, and peace, then you just might be on to something good. Something that looks a bit like the promised abundant life that God calls us to.
I’m currently reading a book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown and in it he suggests that we should say “No” more often to things that aren’t really important to us and things that keep our lives busy and filled up but don’t really add value or allow us to create value. Saying “No” more often to the people around us is not the popular decision. It can lead people to be disappointed and it might initially hurt some feelings. What Greg points out though, is that people pleasing and saying “Yes” to every opportunity simply because that’s what is expected of us can keep us from being able to accomplish our God given destiny. If you fill your life with accomplishments that other people think you should achieve, you just might miss out on the great things that God created you to complete.
Next time you’re faced with a new decision, take some time to consider your options. Consider the opinions of others that you care about. Consider the still, small voice inside. And consider the goals and plans that God has placed on your heart. Only once you have fully looked at all of your options and all of your reasons can you faithfully decide the best choice. It might not be the one that others think you should choose, but you are not bound by the desires of other people, you are free in Christ Jesus. Follow His path, choose His “yes”, and the blessings of this life are sure to follow.