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Are You a People Pleaser Like Me?

A few weeks ago, I dealt with the worst anxiety I’ve had in a while. I wrote about it in a recent blog; seeing spots, shaking, pounding heart, and so forth.

Whenever anxiety strikes like this, I pay attention. Is there something in my life that needs to change? Is this a warning sign? Or is this my self-centered insecurity?

I was finally able to get some time alone to just be quiet. While I drove my sleepy 3-year old to hippotherapy, I turned off all the noise, and God and I talked. I wanted to understand what was happening with me. Was I outside of His will? Was there any unrepentant sin in my life? What needed to change?

As God so gently does, He opened my eyes to see that people-pleasing was at the core of my anxiety. And as people-pleasing so often goes, it’s my impossible attempt to guess what someone else thinks of what I’m doing. It’s indulging in overthinking, trying to figure out why other people aren’t responding to me like I think they should. For example, wondering if the reason I haven’t heard from someone in a while is because they read my book and didn’t like it. Maybe they hated it? Maybe they’re offended? Maybe they don’t think I’m a very good Christian now? And on and on… It’s totally self-centered, and it isn’t pretty.

That day during the peaceful, quiet time I had with the Lord, I was able to take a step back and see that the concerns in my mind aren’t the voices of the people I want to please, but lies from the pit of hell. And anyway, who am I supposed to be trying to please? Who is my audience? Who lights my path?

In this situation, my anxiety was self-focused insecurity. It was a warning light, flashing brightly at me – not to stop moving forward, but to stop overthinking, assuming, and making it all about me. I have searched Scripture and studied, prayed, talked to trusted counselors and friends – and I have heard the voice of the Lord urging me forward. I have to believe that when I come up against that much fear and trembling, something really good is about to happen. Otherwise, why would Satan work so hard? Today I commit to putting on blinders to anything other than the Lord. He is my audience of One, and I am not interested in going anywhere other than where He leads.

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