What I Am

I am a people pleaser.
I like to make people happy.
     To a fault.
I’m skipping past the “It’s good to serve others and the Word instructs us to love others more than ourselves…”
    Yes. That is all true. And more. But I’m moving right past that, because what I’m about to talk about is the other side of the mountain. The slippery, twisty, rocky, sharp way down – where if you are not extremely careful, you can plummet head over feet, crashing violently on your way down to the valley.
Graphic, I know. But oh so applicable to me. 




So back to the self-establishing moniker. 
I    am    a    pleaser    of    people.
Take a look at the verse at the top of my blog. It’s there for a reason. For me. It is one of THE top life verses of mine. It reminds me that I cannot serve two masters. I cannot say I’m a God-follower through and through while holding a shiny idol of gold I fashioned and polished with my shaking hands. 
I can’t kneel at the feet of Jesus while simultaneously pacing back and forth at the end of the very short leash of human approval. A leash no one fastens around my neck except my own self.
You see, I love people. 
I am in my organic element when in company with others. 
      I love the complexities of people. The way each individual mind is vastly different from the next. The way each individual heart bleeds for vastly different causes in various amounts of fervor. The way each individual smile can blast a floodlight of brightness in rooms of all sizes – in their own unique wavelength of color. 
      I love the sound of laughter. How from each individual mouth can come one’s own symphony of joy and delight. 
      I love the words that drip like honeycomb from each individual. Words of curiosity. Words of inquiry. Words of wisdom. Words of experience. Words of passion. Words of truth. Even the words of confusion, sorrow, uncertainty, pain – these I love as well, for they bring opportunity for words of open communication, encouragement, sincere empathy, and uplifting compassion. In fact, communication is one of THE most important aspects of life for me. I hold it vitally high on my list of needs. 
I took that moment to share the beauty that comes from loving people – because with the sweet, comes the sour. 
As much as I ardently adore all of what I explained above (and even more), here’s where that jagged opposite side of the mountain looms into play:
When I love all of that too much, it moves from 
innocent appreciation and cherishing,
to a twisted, tangling idolatry
which I weave with my
own zealous 
arms.
I make that love my idol.
I seek after those moments of fellowship as my sustaining nourishment.
I lift the words of others above the WORD of The Lord Most High.
         And I
                   go 
                       tumbling
                                   down
                                           the 
                                                 s
                                                    l
                                                       i
                                                          p
                                                             p
                                                                e
                                                                   r
                                                                      y  
        slope.
I’ve got the cuts and bruises to prove just how often I make that kind of decent. 
And I have to be clear about one thing: no one pushes me off that ledge. No one puts their hands to my back and causes the spill or the scrapes. I leap. I am not shoved. 
   It is the after-effect of detaching my harness from The Rock and expecting a rope dragging along the ground to keep me safe and stable. It is what happens when that shiny calf I ended up making becomes my source of light rather than the Son. 
A couple of days ago, I was pleading with God to speak something to me out of the pages of His letter. I needed specific understanding, specific sentences to relate to me – to what I was wrestling with. 
      Wouldn’t you know it? I came upon Psalm 146
“…I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 
Do not trust in princes [human beings],
In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.
his spirit departs, he returns to the earth; [as do I]
In that very day his thoughts perish.
How blessed is he whose help is in the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God,   
…The LORD sets the prisoners free.”
[emphases mine]
    Uh, hello??! God was taking that calf from my over-clutching hands and lovingly smacking me in the head with it. (Bounced right off my thick skull and onto the dirt floor.)
In the margins of my Bible, I had written some words from a previous time I needed this particular Psalm. When I saw them that morning, I admit that tears came freely. I had written: ‘No one is perfect, therefore true safety and happiness cannot come from any other human! God, the One Creator of all is the only One who will never turn away, never hurt, never break my heart. Love others deeply, but do not depend on their returned love to fill any void — for only the Almighty can quench cracked souls!’
Selah…
Those words could only have come from the Spirit, whenever they were penned. Because oh.my.goodness. did they speak some serious truth. 
Those words in my margins speak about me too. Let me explain.
I am NOT perfect. (never have been, never will be)
I cannot be safety or happiness for anyone else.
I, too, will turn away, hurt another, break hearts.
I cannot be depended on to fill any void.
I am just as poor, broken, sinful and selfish as the rest of fallen man and woman kind. 
Oh how I know that to be true. 
So I ask for you to forgive me when I do hurt you. I am so painfully sorry that I will. But I will. (Also, just to offset any wondering: you will hurt me too. Time and again. We’ll dance that dance together.) I want for nothing more than for that to never be true. I long to daily be delight in the lives of my brothers and sisters, of my family, of everyone I meet. There is little more I ask of God’s direction in my life. 
I’ve often contemplated the pros and cons to fellowship with other sinners like me – complete with pain, dissension, misunderstandings, annoyances, arguments, sensitivities. I’ve then weighed that against the prospect of a life permanently distanced from true communion, or any real depth to a relationship – of a life spent on the outskirts. Not letting people get close or get real. 
     And I’ve regrettably chosen that path more than once. Even temporarily lived, I know that is always the wrong choice.
So this very long-winded soliloquy is to air out truths I notice so often. That I also know are not shocking for others to hear me admit. If you’ve met me, and spent any real time with me, no matter the length, you have seen my tendency to seek the approval of man. You’ve seen what my face does, how my body slumps, how my voice quiets when I make a mistake or do something imperfectly. All in relation to things that do not matter. Because my Father does not require a self-punishment. He requires a self-sacrifice. Daily. Hourly. Limitlessly. 
So here’s to whatever sacrifice I need to make today. Here’s to moving that rope off the crumbling sand and anchoring it back into the solid Rock – the only foundation I should build my house on. Here’s to seeing that calf chucked off that slippery slope for good. 
Here’s to knowing I won’t be able to do this myself. Here’s to knowing I need some avalanches of Spirit to set my feet firm again.                   

4 Comments on “What I Am

  1. Leigh, you have struck such a cord with me. I continually walk on the very narrow path…and, slide off into the joyful times with people, pleasing them,and being pleased by them. I understand that you are not talking about fellowship of which the Lord gives His approval, but the immersion of yourself into that party of self-destructive people-pleasing. Once again, I am learning the lesson…I pray that it doesn't take you as many times as it has me! Love you and your heart! Donnave

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  2. Lorretta – you are splendid to be open about this struggle too. I wholeheartedly know what you mean about “saying” it out loud. Naming our faults. Voicing our sin. Ugh…it's despicable. But I believe it's oh so necessary and medicinal. When we name it, we see it for what it is. And we can release it – the murky darkness into the bleeding Light – and we will receive glory for pain. Pure joy for despair.

    Thank you, thank you, for your time of sharing an relating. How I appreciate that!

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  3. Oh Donnave – you do understand. Yes – how I thrive on fellowship. It is not only a gift from our Father, but a loving command to build community and maintain fellowship. Yes I do mean the downfall of making the people idols themselves. Such a destructive practice, as you stated and know. Thank you SO very much for letting me know I'm not alone in this. That someone understands. These words took my breath again last night when I found this post once again. It's such pivotal knowledge for me to remember (especially the latter portion with Scripture and the unpacking of verses). It's truth worth grafting in.

    You better my days Donnave. Every time. You bring such encouragement and support. I am incredibly grateful for you.

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