I Dread Saying Yes But Feel Powerless to Say No
"... for at one time you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord." Ephesians 5:8-10 (ESV)
I have a confession to make: I want people to like me. I want to please people. And sometimes it gets me in trouble.
I dread saying yes, but feel powerless to say no. Life seems to rush at me every day in the form of endless demands. And I just keep saying yes, yes, yes to the requests that come my way.
But then my schedule is so packed it feels like I literally can't think straight. Because I have no margin, everything my kids do feels like an interruption. And anything extra my husband asks of me causes bitter resentment to rise up. Instead of talking calmly to those I love, I snarl, snap and scream.
Saying yes to everything won't make me Wonder Woman. It will make me a worn-out woman.
Can you relate?
I think to some extent we can all be people pleasers at times.
We all want to be liked. There's nothing wrong with that. But as we travel the path toward love and acceptance, let's take a look at two of the possible motivations behind people-pleasing.
One motivation is to give love out of the kindness of our hearts. In giving love, we feel love. That's good.
Another motivation is to give to others out of what we hope to get in return — love. In getting love from what we do, we feel desperate to do more to get more. That's dangerous.
It's this second motivation that gets us into trouble with people-pleasing. It's not wrong to want to make others feel loved, happy and pleased. But if we are doing it with the motivation of getting love and things in return, we set ourselves up for trouble.
Being in a constant state of trying to get love by doing more and more leads to exhaustion.
Exhaustion for the giver. Exhaustion for the taker. Exhaustion for the relationship all together.
Ephesians 5:8-10 says, "... for at one time you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."
I like the explanation of what the fruit or evidence is when we walk as children of light — doing what is good, right and true — as we discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
I am challenged to make this a filter for the decisions I'm making today. If I'm seeking to please the Lord, I will ask some questions before agreeing to do something for another person: Am I doing this with good motives, right intentions and true expectations?
Or am I doing this with:
Fearful motives ... They might not like me if I say no.
Skewed intentions ... If I do this for them, will they be more likely to do that for me?
Unrealistic expectations ... I just know if I give a little more, they'll affirm me and I'm desperate for their affirmation.
Wherever we focus our attention the most will become the driving force in our lives.
The more I focus on trying to figure out how to please people, the more of a magnified force people-pleasing will become in my life. The more I focus on trying to figure out how to please God, the more of a magnified force He will become in my life.
My focus. My choice.
Dear Lord, help me break away from my people-pleasing tendencies with wrong motives. Guide me in my daily decisions as I battle fear, skewed intentions and unrealistic expectations. I want to make You the focus, Father, so that You continue to become the magnified force in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 2:4, "On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have you experienced the cycle of doing more to get more?
Search your heart and ask, What are my motives? Am I seeking to please people or honor God in this situation? You may need to place healthy boundaries in your relationships with others so that you can learn when to say yes and when to say no.