I’m a people pleaser and a recovering rule follower. Combine these two traits and you have a girl who wants to fit in.
When I made it back to a church fellowship as a young married woman, I didn’t have the benefit of years in church. I didn’t quite understand the lingo – just what is a fellowship dinner? Do I have to cover the dish to bring it? Is that required? What is a spiritual gift? Can I pick one or does someone have to give one to me?
My desire to fit in and belong ran neck and neck with my desire to know Jesus more. I read my Bible; I dove into every type of study I could find. I read commentaries. Joined Bible studies.
I was head over heels in love with Jesus and I wanted to share everything I found in scriptures. I was excited to talk about what the Lord was showing me. I talked about how God isHUGE and was just exactly who He said He is — the Great I Am. I talked about how God had a plan for each of us — an amazing plan. One that was so much bigger than we could even imagine. I'm sure I was just this side of obnoxious. And probably a bit wild for my old school Southern Baptist bible study teachers and leaders.
Mary, you don't REALLY mean you hear God? I think you're just a little dramatic. The little laugh that followed and the accompanying eye roll was like a knife straight to my heart — and my self-esteem.
I was hurt, but I embraced my people pleaser side and I changed. I wanted the church ladies to like me, so I became more focused on agenda then on God’s will for me. I shifted from a passion for Jesus to a desire to passion to be liked.
My passion for Jesus never died; I just smothered it with all my busy church work.
I served on committees and decorated for events. I made paper daisy name tags and goodie bags. I worked hard, but my heart was empty. I was working to be liked, not because God had called me to it or even gifted me for it. I trudged along from event to event with a smile firmly plastered to my face. I enjoyed working with a team and had fun being a part of the group, but something was always missing. I was desperately missing my passion for Jesus.
While I missed my passion for Jesus, I also didn’t grow my walk in Jesus. I was so busy doing good stuff that I didn’t make time for Bible study, quiet time and prayer. I could talk a good game, but I certainly wasn’t walking it. I’d learn how to say the right things, serve on the right committees and spout the correct platitudes but my faith was only skin deep. Scratch the surface and there was just a girl who loved Jesus, but greater than her love for Jesus was her desire to belong.
I loved the praise of men, more than praise from God.
(And we'll talk more about this tomorrow!)
What about you? have you ever smothered your love of Jesus to fit into the crowd?
Oh Mary, I can totally relate, especially to the “You don’t really mean God talks to you” part. I’m still learning how to embrace who I am and not just “fit in.” That’s been the wonderful part of meeting everyone in CCA. I don’t feel alone in what I used to think was my “weirdness” — there are many of us gifted with great passion — being surrounded by that cloud of witnesses, is bringing it all back to me. Love this post. Thank you for sharing.
Yep! Been there done that. As the new pastor’s wife who desperately wanted to fit in and win the approval of the congregation, I took on Sunday school, youth program, Bible study, monthly luncheon, you name it. Then I literally fell flat on my face and ended up spending most of my days in bed. Not only was I unable to teach and serve…..most Sunday’s I couldn’t even sit through church.
You can read the rest of the story as soon as the Lord provides a publisher for my book proposal.
Securely Held: My Journey Through Spiritual Warfare
Oh, yes! I also had the same trouble with my secular friends which made me the consumate hypocrite! Now, in my forties, I can say that I’ve embraced the authentic person that God created me to be– enthusiastic missteps and all. Last semester, I had two women quit the small group I led in my church’s Women’s Bible Study. I could see it happen the day they bristled at the authenticity of the group. They were clearly used to being “church ladies” and weren’t ready to take off their masks. I love that I don’t have to pretent– Jesus loves me with all my flaws. He covered me and sanctified me. I hate that the two women left, but I do love my “recovering” church ladies!
Yes. Yes. A million times yes. I find that it’s not so much a conscious stifling as much as it is not being able to find a place for it among my peers. I don’t know many women who are sold out–like completely. Kids, comfort, politics, etc… those rank higher. Leaves me wondering where I fit.