Friday, February 11, 2011

Prescription for Approval

I finally said no.
For those of you who don’t struggle with people-pleasing tendencies, this post might be difficult for you to understand.

For the rest of you, you know the gravity of this situation.

Because, for people-pleasers, saying no is a last resort. We will contort our schedule until it works, go without sleep until we’re ill, and nod and smile when someone asks us to be on yet another committee, all while freaking out inside because we can’t take on ONE. MORE. THING.

It sounds so ridiculous on paper (and it is).

But what we have to take into consideration is the payoff: the approval drug. Maybe it’s the firstborn in me, but there are just times when I crave it. Just today, I got a little rush when someone complimented me on my resume (which God has completely orchestrated, so it’s not even mine to take credit for!)

And seriously? This is the improved version of me, because now I do not need the approval of others 100% of the time. I’m down to like 80%, and only from people with whom I have relationships.

Like so many other things in life, it’s a journey. *sigh*

I am an are-we-there-yet? kind of girl. [We will have to attack that in another post.]

But I did it this time. In spite of a lot of anxiety, I said no. Not only that, but it was to a good opportunity- a wonderful, short-term, resume-building, financially-rewarding job. (Which is sounding better and better as I type, and making me second guess myself. But I will not). As good as this opportunity sounds, I need to simplify my life, not add stress to it. Let’s just say that self-care is not my strong point. [I’m not saying that in some sort of look-how-holy-I-am-I-don’t-even-have-time-to-care-for-myself sort of way. Rather, it’s evidence of how I have mismanaged my resources. As different people have been so faithful to point out to me lately (I’m listening, God), if I burnout or get sick from exhaustion or go insane, I won’t be as much help to others as if I make health a priority.]

I love this quote from D.L. Moody:
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”
This quote reminds me that, just because I succeed at something and gain approval doesn't mean it is true success.  We don't have time in this life to waste on okay activities that just fill our schedule.  Every time we say yes to one thing we are saying no to another.  So we weigh them, and try to find a balance.

Aren’t those the most difficult decisions? Not between a good and a bad option, but rather two (seemingly) relatively equal options. To get a job or more education. To stay at home with your children or work outside the home. To have a baby or build your finances. To pay off debt or build your retirement fund. To teach Sunday school or be on the city council. To get another job to make more money, or to have a little more flexibility in your schedule.

Good options, all of them. My optimist husband would see these decisions as a blessing of abundant opportunities. I somehow end up cowering in the corner of my inner being, fearing I will make the “wrong” decision.
This time, I realized the particular project I said no to was in that latter category, at least for my life. It was not building toward my life goals and my current understanding of God’s will for my life, not going to be something that I would miss on my deathbed. I’ve only got one short time on earth, and I don’t want to waste a minute of it.

I am learning more and more that that means I will have to say no more often. If I am to be transformed and not conform, I have to go against the grain. I have to make difficult decisions, be willing to say no, sacrifice, and turn my back on what “makes sense” some of the time.

Last year I posted this question on my facebook status, and got quite a response.

One cannot simultaneously be both a people-pleaser and a God-pleaser. Which are you?

My answer right now would have to be a recovering people pleaser, on the difficult-but-rewarding journey toward becoming a God-pleaser. One decision at a time.


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