It’s called “the disease to please”. A deadly bacteria that starts as a small twinge in your gut when you know you’ve let someone down.
The twinge quickly grows into a nagging feeling that you’re inadequate; which springs forth ideas and solutions for rectifying the situation so as to return to the offended person’s good graces.
Some recover rather quickly upon realizing how taxing this disease is, others remain infected for long periods of time; some years or even their entire life.
I am one of the latter seeking a cure.
Any doctor will tell you that if you truly wish to cure a disease, you must understand its make up. You must know its components, its root. Sure, you can take a Tylenol for a headache, but when the Tylenol wears off you’ll have to take another and another – unless you know the root of the headache and address that.
What is the root of the disease to please?
To discover this, we must look at the components of the disease:
1. I don’t want to disappoint
The truth of the matter is, it is impossible to go through life and never disappoint anyone. Any effort we make to do so will only result in being pulled in multiple directions by the loudest voices. We will find ourselves taken advantage of and used.
2. I don’t want to be misunderstood
This has always been a great fear of mine. It has often led me to be far too open about my life and failures; it has resulted in self-deprecation and over-explanation of my activities and responsibilities. It wasn’t until early last year that I had a massive revelation:
People don’t really care.
This may sound a little harsh, but let’s examine that for a moment.
I don’t mean that people don’t care about me. Its just that they really aren’t into all the minute details of what I do everyday. It doesn’t concern them – and it shouldn’t. They have their own lives and abundance of responsibilities. It isn’t their business to know all the things I’m committed to and everything that I have to accomplish in a day.
Furthermore, if people choose to judge my character based on a simple “no”, that is their problem to deal with. I can’t let it concern me.
3. I don’t want people to think me unreliable
This was another fear I struggled with. Having been raised with a strong sense of responsibility, it was one of the worst things you could accuse me of – right next to being a disappointment.
I look back and shake my head at times when I remember the incredible lengths I would go to so as to avoid being thought of as unreliable. Truth be told, while people may have found that admirable, most times it was unnecessary.
Having established these three components (and I am sure there are more, but these were my top 3), can we not immediately determine that the common element in them is the word “I”?
I don’t want to disappoint, I don’t want to be misunderstood, I don’t want people to think me unreliable.
Anytime there is a preoccupation with self we can safely say that pride is at play.
1 John 2:16 illustrates for us three root sins, to which all sin can be traced. One of them: the pride of life.
As I read chapter 1, I saw myself so clearly that it could almost be a biographical sketch of my own life.
The first steps I am taking to cure myself of this horrible disease are:
1. Humbly admit that not only can I not do it all, I wasn’t created to do it all.
2. Become reacquainted with the purpose God has given me for my life.
Dear sister, if you don’t have a vision for your life, there are plenty of people out there who will be happy to let you help them fulfill theirs. While it is not wrong to partner with others in accomplishing their vision, we must make sure that this activity is in line with the purpose we were created for. Otherwise we will simply become hamsters in a ball, purposelessly running in circles accomplishing nothing of value.
3. Embrace the grace to be human.
Being human means I will fail. Being human means I will disappoint. Being human means I will be misunderstood. But having grace means that I can be okay with that, knowing that everyone around me has the same limitations.
At the end of the day, dear sister, it is far better to be free to accomplish the divine purpose I was created for than to please man.