There are certain laws in place that don’t change such as gravity. There are others that are fairly predictable such as reaping & sowing, and regardless of how you drop a slice of bread, it always lands butter-side-down!
Another seemingly predictable law that is set in motion is judgment. We as humans are always judging. We judge ourselves harshly based on how we 'feel' on the inside and compare that image of ourself to the 'outside' of another who we view when they have their best-foot-forward.
We measure others up one side and down the other.
How nice it would be to become more like my dog who is completely non-judgmental and loves me unconditionally as a result. Remind you of anyone??
It is amazing how often we have done something or have opted not to do something based on what we “think” others would say or think about our choice. This prevents us from being free to live authentically.
How can we best choose where we believe God may be leading if we first have to check in with the judgment panel?
Now, I’m not saying we don’t need accountability and support in our lives. These are extremely important.
People who know us well enough to be a source of support and accountability for us do so based on a certain level of permission we have given them to speak into our lives. They have listened to our hearts and shared in our joys and sorrows.
They are in place because they have earned what I like to call “relational” capital and we seek the investment they make in our lives. We are better because of the check and balance system these folks share with us.
The point I am making is that there are some who really do not have our best interest at heart. They are self-appointed judges to determine and verbalize to us what we need to be doing or not doing or perhaps, doing differently.
A good indicator of relationships with these people is that we basically feel like we have to be defensive to protect our treasures, i.e. our thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams around them because they “feel” they have the right to have a “say” in the choices we make.
Whether or not we have given permission for certain people to speak into our lives, we are training them that this is acceptable behavior unless we are pro-active.
It may be necessary to communicate that we are able to make our choices and ask for help when needed, or we may find ourselves paralyzed to move forward based on what we “think” they may “think” we should or should not do.
This limits our ability to live freely and often to achieve greater things in life.
I believe those we have invited to speak truth into our lives sometimes may need to tell us what we need to hear. This can greatly benefit us because the view they see may be more accurate than the one we 'see' or 'think' we see.
If those who are commited to our welfare will be refreshingly honest with us we can grow.
However, if we have significant people in our lives routinely tell us what we want to hear, they really do more harm than good.
If someone cares and respects us, they will set their pre-judgments aside and truly listen with an intent to help us discern what would be best for us in the way of creating a life we desire.
When we are making choices that align with our overall direction in life, they can cheerlead and urge us on.
When we are considering a choice that is not in alignment, they have the courage and permission to remind us of our hopes and desires and question us on where we are in the journey.
The key difference is that someone who believes in us and respects our choices and our right to make them, will ASK questions as opposed to TELL us what they think.
The “telling” part and the asking of “Why” often makes it seem we are backed in a corner. The result is that we may become defensive and make bad choices to “prove” that we can do whatever we want. Nobody wins in this cycle.
I believe God has ignited a candle of passion within each of us to pro-actively seek the purpose(s) He has for us.
We will experience the greatest peace and contentment when we are actively pursuing the path that lets us live out the purposes that we are passionate about.
It is also a journey of continual learning and growth. We are all designed for greatness in the things that matter most in our lives.
We can best achieve this by aligning our will with God’s, having wise counsel and finding our gifting and passion by working and living within these areas.
The best analogy I can have for going against our passion and trying to do life or work a job for some other reason, such as money, prestige etc. is that of certain hair types. (I was in the hair industry for many years!)
Often people with curly hair spend countless hours and dollars trying to straighten and smooth down their hair. While folks with fine, straight hair are trying to color, perm and add volume to their hair, also at a great cost of time, money and frustration.
I often recommended that they work “with” what they have and not "against" it.
In order to get over believing that what other people think about us is so important, it is wise to remember that their opinions of us are really none of our business.
What difference do their opinions make? That all depends on whether we choose to allow it to make a difference or not. The freedom to choose is ours. The power to choose can be ours or we can pass that off if we listen too long to the voices of what others “think”.
I am reminded of a quote that I love from our pastor at our former church in the Atlanta area. He would say to be properly aligned with truth, we need to realize that we often struggle with: "I am who I THINK you THINK I am".
Since that's a tongue-twister at best, here are my thoughts..... If I am overly concerned (and over-thinking) what I believe you think of me, I begin to believe (and likely emulate) whatever it is I think you are thinking of me.
However, IF I were to choose to let the "YOU" in that quote be God alone, my whole understanding can change.
I know certain truths about God... He loves me unconditionally. He says I'm fearfully and wonderfully made. He tells me He knew me before He formed me in my mother's womb. He gave His Son to take my place so I could choose Him and spend eternity in His presence.
So, if I CHOOSE to take God at His Word, this can change everything about the way I 'see' me and I can joyfully align with "I am WHO I THINK God THINKS I am!" Wow, how refreshing is that?!?!?
What is the big fear of what others may judge us to be or not be? More than likely it is a fear of failure or a fear of rejection.
But in reality, what’s the big deal if something doesn’t work the way we had hoped or the outcome doesn't look the way we envisioned? And what if, everyone doesn't love us like Jesus?
We can choose to simply try again, the next time we will have more experience. We never truly “fail” unless we quit trying to find a way to get to an outcome that we can be satisfied with.
And we can choose to accept that we are not going to connect on a deep level with some people. And that is okay.
I believe if we have 3-5 really close friends that we connect with on a routine basis, we are among the richest people in the world.... rich in what truly matters!
The best way to face the fear of what others think and get through to living the life we choose is simply to visualize the worst case scenario and ask ourselves what would we do if this or that happens?
We can play it out in our mind (or on paper) and often begin to see things that may not have been as clear when our idea was merely a dream.
My grandmother always said, “when people (the ones who judge) are talking about ‘you’ (or me) they are leaving someone else alone”.
Meaning that the one thing that is certain is that as sure as people will always be talking, they will always be judging. This is something we have no power to change.
But we do have the power to choose.
Do you want to live in the freedom you have to create a life you love, are passionate about and do not need to escape from?
Or are you satisfied to let other people decide what you can or cannot accomplish?
The choice, either way, is up to you!
Until next time....
Sheri Geyer is a Relationship Coach for Christian Women*
*And women seeking to learn more about a relationship with Jesus Christ!
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