Confessions of a recovering people pleaser

Ruth2_IGGuest post by Ruth Muller

“How on earth am I supposed to get all I know about God right before Jesus comes back?” I remember complaining to my dad when I was about 16 years old, as any religious insecure person would. For most of my life, except as a little girl, my relationship with God was more me living to fill people’s expectations of me, than a love relationship – so here are the confessions of a recovering people-pleaser. Over the years I had lost most of my personality because I learned to read people and become whatever I thought they expected of me. I hardly said what I wanted to say, or felt the way I wanted to feel. My relationship with God looked pretty much the same, there was no freedom to just be, it was all about what I did and (God forbid) didn’t do.

I remember the day God showed me how he saw me; I was broken and weeping on my living-room floor. (Bear with me – this is very melancholic I know, but it gets better, I promise!). Broken, because I felt like Ruth1_IGGod had taken away everything that I’d been basing my identity on: success, my good name, what people thought of me, how well I did my job. I’d work like a slave for a nod of approval from God, and serve those things that gave me my worth – the very things God had been working to destroy.

But back to my living-room floor: the things that gave me my worth were gone and I was ashamed to lift my head, afraid of what I would see in God’s eyes. Scientist say that children have a part of their brain called the ‘joy center’ that is activated only by the facial expressions of their parents. If we look into God’s face and find that he is happy to see us, it activates joy! It’s really hard to celebrate God’s goodness if you don’t know that you’re accepted.

I was surprised to find that God was happy to see me, which made my heart burst with joy, which created the momentum to change the way I saw Him as my Dad, and the way I saw myself as Daddy’s little girl: as a little girl twirling in her tutu with dad, excited to be all He saw in me. In his love fear of failure and fear of rejection lost their grip and I was free to play, laugh and be; my doing became being with a purpose!

Do you sometimes feel that you care too much what people think of you? How can you glorify God by being all who he made you to be? Leave us your comments!

Pics: Top right – Ruth Muller; Bottom right Ruth and her mom Anne 🙂


3 thoughts on “Confessions of a recovering people pleaser

  1. I came across this when I was googling for “fear of failure and people-pleasing.” I’m a guy but I was still able to relate to this in so many ways. So much in this article caught my attention especially when you used just the word “identity” (that’s personal word for me) and then phrasing it around “basing my identity on” and I had to finish reading it! Any ways, I am currently struggling with people-pleasing. I’m a worship leader at my church and it’s been probably the most stretching experience that I’ve encountered. I’m definitely not a people-person, I’d rather be alone most of the time just doing my own thing. I feel so fearful at what people think about me. I fear being judged and most of all that I fear that failure becomes a part of my identity. But what you said about how God really sees me and I applied to my own thoughts. I’ve been living in the negative thoughts and the negative self-view for so long that’s it feels like it’s all I know but to actually think that God is happy to see me, just even the thought just makes me want to break down (in a good way of course!). Just to be able to think that when I enter into God’s presence, knowing that He’s happy to see me and ready to embrace me just like the father of the Prodigal son, words can’t describe just how happy that makes me. Maybe God is happy to see me after all this time and I’ve convinced myself that God is ashamed of me for failing to carry out these responsibilities as a worship leader. I guess that’s all I needed was just hear this. I am His son and I can hear Him say, “It’s ok.” Thank you for this.

    • Wow, Bryan, thank for your honesty! Believe me, I can relate!:) Our Dad’s good. How he sees us really is all that matters, as we move forward and explore all of who He has made us to be for his and our pleasure! You’re reply really encouraged me!;) Thank you!

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