The guilt was overwhelming. I felt a knot in my stomach and a panic was beginning to creep into my mind.
In the eye of this storm there was a safe moment to see what I was in the middle of and the choices I had before me.
*enter moment of clarity*
If the response was causing me to feel panic that would transform into anxiety in no time, and I was becoming overwhelmed by an unfounded sense of guilt, I knew I was walking into uncharted territory. I was walking into healthy boundaries and I could either allow fear to intimidate me once again or I could walk right past it.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted people around me to be happy. I wanted them to laugh with me. I wanted them to pay attention to me and I wanted to feel loved. Unfortunately, I took the road well-travelled and I began making decisions that would please others, regardless of how I would feel or what I would endure. I was desperately seeking my worth and I was measuring it by the responses of those around me.
People pleasing is a disease that seeks to destroy the very fabric of our identity, our freedom, and our ability to live the life we were created to uniquely live. Pair that with perfectionism – the debilitating sickness that doesn’t allow for humanness, mistakes, or flaws – and you have a recipe for a dead woman walking.
|| side note : perhaps this is why I don’t like movies about zombies. That or they’re just incredibly frightening. *shrug*||
I suffered a very long time and in the recent years I was confronted more and more with moments of realization that I actually had a choice. I could most definitely say no to people AND still be loved, valued, and attended to. With a long string of people discarding me when I failed to meet their expectation or treated harshly when a mistake was made, it was a very terrifying act to make decisions aligning with what I knew and believed would lead me to the places I was meant to go in this life.
This moment of overwhelming guilt and paralyzing panic was a moment of risk, of testing a theory, and as I felt those things completely, I felt a relief of CHOICE.
I chose me.
I chose to say no to someone’s expectation and need. I chose to take responsibility for my own life. I chose what had been engrained in me as selfish, but was really the right I was given to choose to please God rather than people. I risked the unknown and embraced an awkward walk which would put my humanness on full display. I chose to be fully exposed as a real person and …
I NEVER FELT MORE FREE IN MY LIFE.
Perhaps some of you reading can not relate to this. That’s perfectly fine. I would actually appreciate hearing your experience and gleaning from the wisdom you have lived. Sincerely. I am still making this a daily practice and combating years of mental conditioning, it takes a great amount of intentionality to live differently.
For those of you that do relate on some level, I would also love to hear your experience. We are all walking this out and if we do so in community, we increase our chances of growth. In the end, that is my desire. A few years ago I probably would have been reaching for something more along the lines of becoming a master and perfecting this, but can I get an amen from the recovering perfectionists when I say, growth is greater than perfection?!
In putting the freedom of choice into practice I have discovered I actually am able to serve others better. As I make choices that fit best with the direction my life is going or I am desiring it to go, and as I consider myself (my needs, desires, limitations, strengths, and so on), I am able to make choices that offer the best of me for the situations I choose to put myself in.
I’ve also found that when I pause, take a moment to think, I am able to articulate myself in a way that has proven to yield positive and respectful feedback, even if I am declining an offer. I often made decisions from a desperate mindset of survival. Everything seemed to be a crisis and everything was so pressing it must be responded to immediately!
My friends, that was exhausting. In those moments I would think of the verse that says God came that we might have life and life abundant. I would take that in and think, wow, not just life, but an abundance. His desire for my life was that I would have life and more life. When held up to what I was parading around as life, I realized it was me, not others, who were blocking the very thing which was designed for me.
When things become difficult or people do not respond kindly (or even at all) and I’m left with all sorts of feelings, I am reminded again that God said to take heart when troubles would come into my life because He has already overcome them. This meant two things:
- There was going to be trouble. No getting around it. No living in such a “perfect” way that everything would be sunny days and iced coffee. But this also meant,
- I didn’t have to live in crisis mode when these situations arose. He had already designed a way through for me. In order to see that way, I learned I had to breathe and make decisions from this place of peace; this place where I was being taken care of, seen, and valued.
Everything I had been looking for was waiting for me on the other side of the panic and crisis thinking. Everything I had been desiring and striving for was patiently waiting for me and all I had to do was find the road of peace that led to choice that took me to a place that honored others and myself, and above all, honored God.
I have tried many things in my life to attain that and there has been no other way where this has been the result. Honoring people or myself does not always mean they or I get what we want. It simply means we are not disrespected, neglected, devalued, abused, or forgotten. It opens a way leading us to the very thing we desired.
The journey of choice is experienced from the smallest things like what time I start work, do I want sweet or savory, to bigger things like who I choose to be close and speak into my life or big career moves.
There is not a perfect way to walk through things, but there is a way of peace. It is my daily intention to walk this path, and my hope is that you will take this journey as well.
You are valuable, loved, important, seen, and worth not just life, but MORE life that feeds you and leads you to the reality of living out the deepest desire in your heart. It’s not all sunshine and coffee, but if things are getting tough, I’d be happy to grab a cup with you or encourage you to find a friend and to share your experience with.
You’re not alone and the freedom of choice will lead you to a satisfying communion of mind, heart, body, spirit, and healthy people to encourage, support, and correct you when necessary.
Try it, or not, it really is your choice.