“I’m just a collection of expectations of others,” wrote Angie Wiranata.*
Why do I do what I do? A classic question to discover your motives. How would I have answered? Me, I did for others approval.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived my life trying to please people and get them to like me. I would lower my standards to theirs so that they would enjoy my company and maybe like or would accept me. I made myself who I believed they wanted me to be, and not who God made me to be. Inside, it cut deep into my spirit. Can you imagine never being happy with who you are? I had multiple identities, lots of masks, and was drained with trying to be just the perfect person for everyone.
In Luke 6 verse 26 Jesus says, “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” It’s worth considering whose approval you’re seeking if everyone speaks well of you. This deeply saddened me as I reflected on my past. Too, many people rejected Jesus and His ways, and he reminds us in John 15 verse 18 that, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” Keep your standards, live for Jesus, and know who and whose you are.
Now, after intense internal heart surgery by the Holy Spirit, I stand up for Jesus. I do feel different from other people. For instance, I don’t want to indwell over famous people, movies that have negative content, or participate in conversations that suck people dry of love, but not pour it back into others who are around. In addition, I choose the entertainment of children more often than adults. We are reminded in Proverbs 12 verse 26, “the righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” I believe that who you are around has a major influence on who you become, and that God desires for us to choose righteous acts over the opposing. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus did hang out with the tax collectors and sinners, and that is an active part of my life, but I intend to be a positive influence over them, not vice versa.
This change began a few months ago, and it has not been extremely fun or easy, but it has been deeply healing and rewarding. “But this comes with [high] costs”, as John Eldredge writes in his book The Utter Relief of Holiness. He continues:
Holiness will cost you. It will certainly cost you the expense of laziness; there’s no more coasting through life. You have to be aware now of where your heart is going on any given day, what you’re allowing in and where your heart is wandering off to. That will cost you, in the sense that there’s no more slacking off anymore, no more assuming your personality and your motives don’t need to be looked at. You have to be vigilant to guard your heart. Frankly, the cost for this is pretty minor when you look to the benefits; there’s a whole lot of “struggle” and “battle” that never have to unfold because they never get started. Besides, as you practice self-awareness and shepherding your heart, you get stronger; it begins to come naturally, and the benefits are more than worth it. But yes, it does cost — or you’d see a whole lot more people living this way.
You will have to give up precious idols, and that is almost always painful. You’ll be giving up your false comforters. To maintain your personal integrity will cost you relationships. It may cost you employment. Your pursuit of holiness will cost you sleepless nights — not because you’re worrying, but because you’re praying (fending off warfare, breaking agreements, battling some deep issues).
You will experience a higher degree of loneliness, because [there] are very few people who seem to want this, and so you will feel odd. You’ll wonder why people aren’t wrestling with the same things you’re wrestling with. You’ll wonder why they don’t talk about the same things you talk about or want to pray about things that seem so obvious and urgent to you. You won’t feel comfortable seeing the same movies your friends do, or listening to the same music, reading the same books. And so you’ll experience the loneliness that Jesus lived with. But he felt it was worth it.
A genuine holiness will — if you decide to receive the life Jesus offers you — inevitably put you in the crosshairs of religion. Because of their love for technical morality, large portions of the Church will be upset with your freedom. Because of their lack of desire for holiness, they will not want what you’re offering. Jesus was in almost constant conflict with the religious, so that ought to give you a warning — this is probably in your future as well. Don’t look for it; I’m not encouraging that. Don’t make it your mission to go change the Church. But the conflicts will inevitably come, simply because you a residing with Jesus. There is a cost to that as well. But again, Jesus clearly felt that it was all worth it, everything he went through. So did his closest friends who follow in his footsteps. So did the vast cloud of witnesses down throughout the ages who chose holiness over an easy life. Their shining examples ought to give us heart!
One major aspect to stepping out was knowing who I am. Ephesians 2 verse 10 reads, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” “[We should see] ourselves as God sees us, as His masterpiece, His workmanship of grace and love, His work of art that He is continually painting in such a way that we will glorify Him!” shared by my mentor, Rick, yesterday in his daily verse and prayer email. Knowing who you are is essential to having the confidence and courage to breaking through the chains of bondage that hold you down as a people pleaser.
Now I know who I am in Christ, and understand my true identity. Stay tuned for that post to come later.
My friend (and manager), Walter, reminded me a few weeks ago that I need to get comfortable with myself and comfortable that people care for me. This was very difficult to accept, but working through it, I want to cover you with the same truth. You are cared for, just the way you are, get comfortable with who you are.
Some key points for me:
- Desire deeply to know and honor God
- Choose Jesus above everything else
- Invite the Holy Spirit into your life and Jesus into every problem
- Know who and whose you are and don’t allow others to compromise that image
- Know the motives to your actions
- Do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because others are doing it
- Trust God has an amazing plan for your life
I share this with you to encourage you — not to convict you and certainly not to condemn you. I also want to be open with you about what I’ve been going through. It’s been very important for me to have found that having high standards in not legalistic, but holding others to my standards is legalistic. (I can’t remember where I found this quote, but when I do I’ll update this post.) Just as important, I believe that all salvation is only by faith and the Grace of Jesus Christ, and it can not be earned.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,” Romans 3:22
In closing, whoever you are, wherever you are, I accept you exactly as you are, but I want to see you find freedom, and this is how I found freedom. I will work with you, pray for you and walk in high waters along side you, but know that there is someone greater who wants to be right there with you too, and His name is Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can truly set you free!
“No one in the world is rubbish.” – Dr. Gary Parker
*This story was shared by my pastor, Jeff Kristenson, in his sermon It’s A Trap! on Oct 6, 2013.
Josh Callow, Ryan Hare, and I… Bowie got a nice photobomb back there too! Photo Cred: Josh Callow