Confession time: I am a people pleaser. I would much rather people like me than not. I get paranoid when someone gives me a funny look or says something in an unpleasant way even if they’re just being generally grumpy. I don’t like to offend anyone or hurt their feelings simply because I know what it is like to be hurt, left out and offended myself.
It’s the old “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Jesus – Matthew 7:12). This is a great way to live if it is done with the right motives. If it is driven by fear, it can become an unhealthy habit. If someone has offended me and I have just smiled and nodded, I take my angst out on my family. It builds up and up inside me and when I’m feeling most comfortable out it comes. The eyes turn red, my hair stands on end (think Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters) and my fam runs for the hills.
The desire to please people comes from the fact that I was always getting into trouble when I was a kid. I had and have a passion for truth and justice which didn’t always work out so well for mini me. All that mattered was truth and if people couldn’t handle it the way I presented it then tough titties, it was the truth!
Now that I’m in my wiser (eeeek hopefully) years, I have almost gone too far the wrong way because I want to shake that reputation. Sometimes I find it impossible to tell the truth, when it needs to be told, because I fear the response. So I smile… and I nod… and I feel like a drippy old weak, sodden blanket with no backbone. There must be a better way.
There is! It is called speaking the truth in love. In LOVE! And I figure that sometimes people have to hear difficult things even when it may cause them pain. Another part of this is allowing yourself to disagree with someone else without condemning them and yourself. We live in this permissive, tolerant world, which is all well intentioned but where’s the bottom line? It’s getting a little blurred which is a bit of a worry when you think about it. Does it mean everything is ok?
People also seem afraid of the term ‘truth’ in a universal sense. We have your truth and my truth but we’re a little hesitant to claim there is a definite truth except for, as Benjamin Franklin said, death and taxes. There’s no responsibility in individualistic truth. Once again if you think it’s ok then it’s ok. With little accountability people will be free to treat each other terribly, because they can justify it as their truth. It makes for a very self-centred world… and that’s the truth.
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