I often say that I am a people-pleaser both by nature and profession. My natural tendency, impulse to make people happy makes me pretty good at my job and pretty hard on myself.
This next one is a hard lesson to learn:
It is not your responsibility to make everyone happy.
I’ve been seeking other people’s approval for just about 26 years but I’ve been doing it as my full time gig for just over two. I’ve had some frustrating interactions with ministry leaders, parents, and group members but they don’t usually shake me.
Until a few months ago.
Until a Hispanic woman berated me in the lunch line in her broken English and made me cry. All over a few baked potatoes. I didn’t cry in front of her, of course. I’m too proud, too stoic for that. No. I waited until she had said her peace and I had nodded and I’m sorry-ed myself out. Then I went to the basement and bawled.
Her group leader saw the whole thing and tried to intervene. She had consoled me with Don’t listen to her. She’s crazy.
But they didn’t matter. Again, I nodded and smiled and said that it was fine, fine, fine.
This woman’s words shook me not because she upset with the situation but because she was upset with me. She made it clear how she felt about me. I was unqualified, immature, and impolite.
And the haunting fear: I’m not enough, I’m not enough, I’m not enough.
There will be people to whom you cannot say yes and you will have to say no.
There will be people who don’t like the things that you say, the jokes you crack, the stances you hold, the questions you ask, the answers you give.
There will be people who whisper about you behind your back.
There will be people who say hard things to your face.
There will be people who do not like you.
And that’s okay. That’s actually kind of normal. That’s actually kind of good.
Your life’s purpose isn’t to make people happy. Don’t let that scare you. Your life’s purpose is way bigger than that.
Keep your eyes up and your heart open.