The past 5 years have definitely been eventful to say the least. Some wonderful moments which I'm grateful for and ones that I would really rather forget. When I feel like I've kicked a bad habit or some type of struggle, another one seems to take it's place. One of those struggles that has always seemed to hang around is my desire to "people please". If everyone's happy, I'm happy. If they aren't, depending on the circumstances, my day is generally ruined. I know that sounds a bit extreme but I could recount a number of situations where that was exactly how I felt. I let someone down or they didn't have the reaction that I thought they were going to have and it pulls me down. It's something that I've struggled with most of my life and I know others struggle with it as well and I think it's something that's rooted in our fallen nature as human beings.
Part of it seems to stem from our desire to be in right relationship with other people. As others are joyful, especially if it's something that we've done for them, we experience joy. If others are experiencing pain or heartbreak, discomfort or frustration, we can tend to experience those emotions as well. Romans 12:15 says to "Rejoice with those who rejoice" and "weep with those who weep" because it's what Christ has called us to do. However, scripture doesn't tell us to internalize these things(the joys and sorrows) to the point where we become defined by them and therefore our happiness is dependent upon them.
At times I have felt that when I've managed to make everyone in my circle happy, I have felt fulfilled and I could rest easy. I know it's not healthy but it's something that I've struggled with a lot. Recently, God used some really kind and gracious people who showed me how wrong and detrimental that kind of thinking can be and how it's really just a selfish desire in my heart to control the circumstances and situations around me so that I won't experience pain.
Our desire to please people can also come from the same place that our "perfectionism" comes from. As I've grown over the years I've realized that at times mygood desire to improve at my job, worship leadership, songwriting, etc. turned and my happiness and joy were dependent upon what my friends, family, coworkers and piers thought of the job I was doing. If they were impressed, I was happy, if they were disappointed I was depressed. Why did "failure" or really just a failure to please someone else result in me being an emotional wreck just because of what someone else thought of what I did or did not do? The reality is that when I'm holding onto things so tightly(job, relationship, the opinions of others) that my happiness and joy are dependent upon them, when they disappoint and fail(they will) I am devastated.
People, matter, what they think matters. We want to serve people well in our every day lives, doing our best to meet the needs of others, building people up with kindness, and words of encouragement because it's what Jesus has called us to do. However, when we fail in the eyes of others, whether it's something that we actually did or didn't do or just unfair or unrealistic expectations placed upon us by someone who is broken just like we are or the misperception of others, it won't devastate us, it won't wreck us because we can rest secure and be confident that we are loved fully and perfectly by Jesus. Our identity is not wrapped up in our failures and successes, what we do or don't do, our identity is wrapped up in Him. We have freedom to fail, freedom to grow and freedom to live in the love of Christ.
Your failures and successes don't define you. God does.