When I was a kid, and even into my teen years, I was pretty independent – “headstrong” and “willful” are some terms you would have used to describe me! I mostly did what I wanted to do without spending too much time thinking of that others might think, or what the consequences would be. My mom and dad can tell you numerous stories of the situations I either found myself in, or created, because I just ran pell-mell without thinking, asking advice, or stopping to consider what my actions might cause others to think, feel, or do.
Fast forward into my late 20s and my actions and perceptions had changed drastically. I found myself overwhelmed by caring. Caring if people were happy, caring about my actions and my words and my inactions, and caring about things that were out of my control. I became overwhelmed by feelings about others, feeling if I was doing and saying the right thing, and mostly feeling guilty. Its that feeling guilty that will drag you down and drown you if you’re not careful!
I became so paralyzed by these feelings that I did not speak truthfully to those I love the most – I spent too much time and money trying to show that I cared, to be sure that the people in my life were happy (giving gifts was not the bad part, just how focused I was becoming on using things to make people happy.) I over analyzed everything and shut down parts of myself and my personality that I didn’t think were “right”. Instead of going pell-mell, I was going nowhere – I was stalled. I was not being my true self because I had myself so wrapped up in thoughts and feelings that I was tied in knots and afraid to do or say anything at all!
I’ve been praying and trying really hard lately to be more true to myself, and to keep everything in balance — in talking to my Mom recently, she wisely reminded me that I am not responsible for the happiness of others, and if I speak the truth in love, I am not responsible for the response it receives. God has given me a husband and a daughter, and I am reasonably responsible for their well-being, but I can’t manufacture happiness even for them. That has to happen individually for each person as they encounter God. It. Is. Not. My. Responsibility.
The child in me still gets the better of me sometimes as I say and do things that I really should have thought over first – I am so glad that we have been gifted the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us change! I have had to find that balance between being so caught up in caring what everyone thinks that I do nothing, and doing everything willy-nilly without giving a thought to anyone else at all. To me, it is really important to have trusted Godly friends that I can go to for advice if I need it. People who I know are going to speak the truth to me, and have a personal relationship with God on their own and are actively seeking Him. As a wife, I need to heed the advice of my husband also, since God has placed him in authority over me. But beyond that, I need to commune closely with God and the Holy Spirit, do and say what I am led to, and then just let it ride from there. No more “devil may care” attitude of not considering anything, and no more hyper-analyzing paralysis either – its all about balance.
Check out the verses below that have helped me! With the help of the Holy Spirit, go be the best version of yourself and let go of the guilt and the burden of trying to make everyone happy and every situation a success — you will never do it, and you will wear yourself out in the process.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.(Ephesians 4:15)
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. (1 Corinthians 2:13)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding; (Proverbs 3:5)
The way of fools seems right to them,
but the wise listen to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of a friend
springs from their heartfelt advice. (Proverbs 27:9)