Monday, May 18, 2015

but now i’m insecure, and i care what people think



I have a huge admiration for blunt people.

People with sharp tongues, quick wit, and an apparent disregard for the way other people might perceive them because of it. I know they have their flaws, and that like anything, it is a paired value; admirable Bluntness has an evil twin named Insensitivity just like sweet little Gentleness has that evil sister, Hypersensitivity. In truth I have battled both—but mostly, especially lately, I find myself on the side of Gentleness, quiet and drawn tightly into my shell, skin well protected and growing ever thinner at the same time.

And it has me thinking. What would it be like to live utterly beyond need of other people’s opinions?

Granted, there are a few people whose opinions I will always seek and respect. They have earned that. But the grocery store clerk hasn’t. Most of the people at my church haven’t. Honestly, a lot of my relatives even haven’t. What would it feel like to be sufficient in who God has made me—how He has formed my body and my personality and my mind and my walk with Him—without always wondering if I measure up to the ideals of someone else?

I mean, let’s look at the facts.

Fact 1: Other people spend 99% less time thinking about me than I spend thinking about whether or not they’re thinking about me. I’m thinking back to the last 10 people I had interaction with today, and honestly the most thought I really spared them (other than, of course, the amount of thought required to hold up a normal conversation) was, “Oh I love her dress” or “Yay, I got a friendly cashier at Fred Meyer!” And I really had to go back and dig these up—it’s not like I’m still thinking about the dress, or still thinking about the cashier, or still thinking about even the bad driver in the roundabout on my way home. I’m over it. Not that important. Moved on. I don’t form permanent opinions of people based on five-minute conversations, that day’s outfit choice, or their petty mistakes—so why do I default to thinking I am so important in other people’s minds that they just can’t stop thinking about me and how I looked or what I said?

Fact 2: The way I respond to personal criticism or a perceived negative comment is a pretty good indicator of the value I place on positive feedback and compliments as well. If it completely deflates me when someone has something even slightly negative to say (even if it’s just, “I love it! But I would change…”), then in all probability my entire sense of self is built on other people’s praise. What a shallow way to live! The human audience is a fickle one with ever-changing values and ideals, and much of what charades under the name of “encouragement” nowadays is actually meaningless flattery. There is only One whose standard is both excellent and changeless, and to strive for mere human approval is trivial, cheap, and selfish in comparison to His.

Fact 3: So many people are hiding who they really are, because who they really are hurts, or isn’t cool, or isn’t perfect. And they need to see someone brave enough to step up and take the mask off and show them that no, they aren’t the only ones hurting. They aren’t the only ones who are confused, who are flawed, who don’t have all the answers. In the Church, especially, we are so guilty of putting up walls—sitting in a safe zone behind a fake smile so that no one will think we are un-joyful or un-spiritual or un-Christian. So that no one will see that we are an unfinished product with very rough edges still desperately in need of the grace of God. And this is a tragedy, because behind the masks there are so many people dying to know they are not alone.

What would it be like to let go of all the fallacies we obsess over and live for the Audience of One? I think I would find myself set free. His standard is far higher, but His grace is likewise greater. And without myself in the way, what amazing spiritual intimacy I could enjoy with Him and with the rest of His Church! What a true encouragement I might have the privilege of being for others who need to know it’s okay to let go of the charade and fall back utterly on the holiness and mercy of God!

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.    - Galatians 1:10


  1. Hallie, this pretty much perfectly expresses how I feel 95% of the time. For the most part I care too much about what people think. As a Christian, I think it's especially easy to try and receive praise from other Christians and justify ourselves by believing we're somehow glorifying Jesus in the process. But seeking praise from fellow Christians instead of living as bond servants to Jesus Christ is the same as seeking praise and acceptance from the world.

    And you're right. When our identity is secured in Christ and Christ alone, it's incredibly freeing. Thank you again for this reminder!

    Dani from A Vapor in the Wind

  2. I think this is all so true and I'm definitely guilty of all these things. Thank you so much for bringing this up to attention..:)

  3. Hello, Hallie. When I stopped caring what other people think of me about 15 years ago, I became immeasurably happier in all walks of life. It really is liberating. And like you say, people do not spend NEARLY as much time thinking about us as we sometimes like to lead ourselves to believe ;)

  4. Hello, Dani! What a pleasure it has been to 'meet' you over your blog! I saw you first when you guested for miss Paige!
    Anyway, this was a wonderful post. I think it's so true when you said that people often hide their true selves because their true identity's aren't what you said- perfect.
    Looking inwards, I find that I too often take people's opinions of me far too seriously over what opinions (Christ's, godly influences) truly matter.

    Thank you so much for posting- I'll be back soon!

    Like No Other

  5. Hallie, this is a common problem, though I've always been one of those people who don't worry about what other people think of me. I make a conscious effort to be kind to everyone I encounter each day, not so that they will think well of me but so that they might think well of themselves; but I don't get into people-pleasing. Just concentrate on that "Audience of One" and you can't go wrong!



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