As a certifiable people pleaser, I want everyone to be happy and to like me. That’s all. Just those two little things… that in real life aren’t very little at all.
I have spent most of my life trying to please people. Needless to say, I failed more than I succeeded. It was those failures, though, that became my god. I owned every single time someone was displeased with me or how I did something.
“You should have done better.”
“You made me feel left out.”
“You didn’t meet my needs.”
“You hurt my feelings.”
Sometimes these statements were said by those closest to me, but not always. Other times, acquaintances or new friends would say them and they would be just as important in my mind as if my man said them to me. I allowed them to stay in my mind and in my heart. I visited them often and took full ownership. Sometimes those failures even invaded my dreams at night. I was a complete failure and I knew it, and though I wanted to improve, I am also a sinner who fails every single day.
Pathetically, I got to the place where I didn’t want to disagree with anyone for fear of disappointing them. If someone asked me to do something, I would immediately say “yes” and then rearrange my own schedule just to meet their expectation of me. I was scared to fail any more.
Years ago, I first heard my friend, Rachelle, say… “WHEN I fail you because I will, you know.” At the time, she wasn’t speaking to me, she was sharing a conversation that she had with someone else. I cannot remember the rest of our conversation that day because those few words echoed around in my soul drowning out the rest of Rachelle’s words.
Was it possible to tell people you would fail them?
Was it okay to admit that out loud?
Even more, was it Christian to live a life of honest failure?
My heart wrestled for months. I knew I wanted the freedom that Rachelle had found but I didn’t know how to go about getting it. I wrestled to let go of what I had held on to for too long.
I finally heard someone else say, “I don’t own that anymore.” In the context of our discussion, that person was referring to a bad relationship from their past. It was the term “own” that caught my attention. Much like “When I fail you because I will, you know,” the term “own that” resonated deep within.
Letting go of the ownership of other people’s expectations of me has been a long process. The mental image of stepping down came from this struggle. I have had to learn to step down, and sometimes even literally step away, from those who want to make their disappointment my struggle.
I haven’t arrived. I’m still a certifiable people pleaser. I have, although, tasted the freedom of not owning others disappointment of me. And, sweet is the taste as I learn to step down from owning other’s unmet expectations of me.