Goodbye to People-Pleasing


When someone you care about such as your child, friend or spouse fails in some way, who do you hold responsible? Do you help them realize that they are accountable for their action or lack of it? Or do you blame yourself for their failure and then clean up their mess?

God does not clean up our messes. He gave Adam and Eve specific responsibilities and clear instructions. He told them what would be healthy and what would be destructive. When they disregarded their responsibilities and disobeyed his instructions, he did not blame himself. He did not say, “Oh, I’m a bad parent; I must have done something wrong”. He did not say, “Oh, I’m a poor gardener; I must have made a mistake”.

He held Adam and Eve accountable for their decisions and actions. Unlike God, some of us get confused about responsibility. Instead of holding others responsible for their destructive actions, we blame ourselves. We are overly dependent on their opinions, think we can’t survive if they don’t like us, and become so busy making them happy that we neglect our own responsibilities and growth. In doing so, we harm both ourselves and others.

Why do we do this? in his book, When Pleasing You Is Killing Me, Dr. Les Carter identifies unhealthy pride as the root cause of such behavior. He says that failing to confront others is a common practice of people pleasers. I’ve been reading his book during the last few weeks, and I’ve found myself in its pages. Recognizing and admitting to that root of pride brought me relief. It’s the bit of knowledge I needed to have in order to say a firmer goodbye to people-pleasing.

God has been giving me an increased understanding of what responsibility means over the years. This is an early poem.

 I hated them without a cause 
 Because they chose to be;
 I hid behind a mask of fear
 And told myself I could not be.
 Someone-out-there made me freeze in fear
 And kept me from moving ahead
 Someone-out-there spoke the words 
 I heard inside my head. 
 And all the time it was really me
 Intimidating myself;
 I chose to suffer and to lose—
 To hide my wealth and ruin my health;
 I chose to think that I was bad,
 That I did not belong;
 I chose rejection, fear, and pain
 I chose to sing it as my song.
 I chose it even when I learned
 God forgives our sin.
 I chose to fear what “they” would think
 Instead of trusting him;
 But I Could Choose Again.
 I could decide to live in faith,
 I could decide to grow
 To give up fear and suffering
 I could decide, I know.
 What will I choose? Where will I go?
 Where will my thoughts abide?
 I want to love; I want to risk.
 Shall I, again, run and hide?
 Now fear thrives in the dark,
 It cannot handle light.
 If I remain close to the SON 
 I’ll have good judgment and more might
 More courage and more confidence,
 Some hope to balance doubt
 Great joy will come to me 
 As I, in faith, step out. 
 Responsibility That's What My Life's About.
  Jane Ault 

A Life-Giving Practice

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies announce what his hands have made. Day after day they tell the story; night after night they tell it again.
(Psalm 19:1-2 NCV)

Almost every morning since the first of January this year, I’ve spent the first forty-five minutes to an hour studying and meditating on Scripture. As I converse with Jesus about his words, he frequently gives me a poem or song lyrics. This is the best part of my day.

When my husband hears me singing, he knows I’m ready for breakfast. As we are eating, I share my new song or poem with him and welcome his insights. After hearing and discussing his viewpoint, I often write additional verses or improve what I’ve written.

It’s a challenge to do so, yet my desire is to continue the Jesus-and-me dialog throughout the day. This is how I find strength and courage. This how I gain and regain clarity about my purpose in life and how I receive direction for the day. This is what keeps me from taking pleasurable but distracting side trips.

As I silently or openly include Jesus in my conversations with others, he gives me insight and wisdom in my responses. God said to Isaiah, ” my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55: 8-9). God’s thoughts are definitely more profound than mine.

If I want to write or speak words which reflect the heart and mind of God, I must listen to the Spirit of Jesus. If I want to say things which have true worth, I must dialog with him. Amazingly, he then can then display his love and power through me.

The following poem flows out of my meditation on Ephesians 3:16 and 1 Timothy 1:17.

Jesus is Worthy of All Praise

 Jesus Christ is worthy of all praise.
 In him, all perfection is displayed.
 He shows those with faith-enlightened eyes
 The glory and power of God on high;
 We are strengthened in our inner selves
 By the love of Christ. He is our help.
 When facing hardship, our choice is firm;
 Held in his arms, we suffer no harm.
 Though on this earth, we experience loss,
 We rejoice, knowing it’s worth the cost.
 God comes through with his abundant grace;
 How immeasurably good are all his ways!
 Immeasurably wise are all his words.
 How blessed we are when we have heard
 And closely followed the Spirit’s voice;
 God gives to us unimagined joys.
 Jesus Christ is worthy of all praise.
 In him, all perfection is displayed.
 Through those who have faith-enlightened eyes,
 He displays the love and power of God on high. 

 Jane Ault

The Mirror of Truth

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised
 Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been spending less time looking at my face in the mirror. At first, it was because I did not want to see the wrinkles there.  I’m not uptight about them anymore.  I’ve accepted them as a normal part of aging. Why do look in the mirror less often? I simply don’t think about it.

More importantly, I finally understand the truth that “skin-beauty” is not nearly as important as what I call “heart-beauty”.  God sees beyond the condition of my face to the condition of my heart. I’ve learned that an unhappy, angry, or worried heart cannot be hidden behind beautiful skin. Whether I like it or not, the expression of my face reflects the condition of my heart.

God’s “Mirror of Truth” is Scripture. It’s a very accurate mirror. When I look in it, the Holy Spirit shows me exactly what I am like. He reveals the wrinkles and blemishes in my heart—things such as worry-lines, anger-pimples, and ugly-acne caused by my reaction to hurt. Sometimes it’s painful to see the truth about myself; I feel ashamed and want to hide.

I don’t hide because the mirror of Truth is held in the hand of a Loving Savior. Jesus does not condemn me. He simply wants to give me the kind of loving, generous, and good heart that he has. When I receive his words of truth, he heals the hurts in my heart and cleanses it from all ugliness.

When I spend more time in front of God’s mirror and less time in front of my bathroom mirror, it’s so much more rewarding!

  A Virtuous Woman
 Doesn’t need to write a poem-a-day
 To prove that she’s okay;
 She simply records what she’s given.
 Doesn’t need to get applause
 When she supports some worthy cause;
 She simply cares about others.
 Doesn’t need her husband’s praise
 For how she spends her days;
 She simply desires to serve him.
 Doesn’t need an extrinsic reward
 For any accomplishment; 
 She simply does what she loves.
 Doesn’t need to look in a mirror 
 To discover if beauty’s still there;
 She simply looks at the face of Jesus.
 It’s his beauty that she hopes to reflect.
 It’s his work that she wants to do.
 It’s his word that she desires to speak.
 For Jesus is infinitely precious to her

 Jane Ault
 January 2019

A Meditation on the Meaning of Faith

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 NIV)
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  
for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:8-9)

Compared to some of my past life experiences, I am not currently going through a tough time. Just the normal frustrations of aging. My poem, today, is a reflection of more difficult days.

I wrote it with confidence and joy because I’ve discovered this: what felt like failure turned out to be success; what felt like loss, turned out to be gain, and what felt like losing ground turned out to be a faith-builder.

If this is a challenging day for you, I hope that you will be encouraged by the words of Scripture, as well as my reflective poem.

 He is here when I cannot see him
 Here when I cannot feel him
 Here when I cannot hear him
 Jesus is here.
 He is here when I am not sleeping
 Here when my body’s aching
 Here when I have no words to pray
 Jesus is here.
 He is here when the wind is blowing
 Here when the rain is falling
 Here when I see no rainbow
 Jesus is here.
 He is here when the night is long
 Here when my friends have gone
 Here when I have no song
 Jesus is here.
 In these times, when faith is tested,
 I remember his promises 
 I recall his faithfulness
 I review the times he answered prayer
 In this way, my roots grow deeper 
 Although the path is steeper
 I do not, in fear, turn back
 Up ahead, I know I’ll see his face
 In these times, when faith is tested
 I get up and read some Scripture
 I write down the truth I find there
 I compose a prayer response
 In this way, my faith grows stronger
 Although the night is longer
 I do not, in doubt, lose hope
 Up ahead, I know I’ll see his face
 He is here when I cannot see him
 Here when I cannot feel him
 Here when I cannot hear him
 Jesus is here.
 Jane Ault