Be Free to Disappoint People

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Pleasing people at the cost of pleasing God is stressful.
Pleasing people at the cost of pleasing God is stressful. (Charisma archives)

I knew I had some really tough choices to make.

My plate wasn't just full, it was overflowing. It was cracking under the sheer volume of stuff I'd continued to pile on top of it.

I was a hoarder; a chronic "yes" sayer.

It wasn't so much that I wasn't in tune with how much I could do, it was more of a fear that I'd disappoint someone by saying no, or I'd let them down.

I am, by nature, a pleaser. If you want to utterly break my heart, just say these words, "I am disappointed in you." I almost will never get over hearing that.

I can't stand to disappoint!

And yet, I knew that something had to give.

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Either I would disappoint someone now by letting go of the majority of the responsibilities I was carrying, or I'd disappoint everyone when I had a nervous breakdown and couldn't do anything at all.

It had truly come down to that!

My sanity now or my health later on.

It was a tipping point.

I sat down and made a list of every single responsibility I had in my life: from being a wife and mom to being a blogger and Bible study leader, to being a volunteer at my local church ... I listed it all.

Then I took some time to reflect on what I felt the Lord had called my family to do. Not just me — yes, that was included — but my family.

Where are we going?

What's our mission?

What's our goal as a family?

We plan our summer vacations better than we plan our families.

When we go on a summer vacation, we mark our route, we plan our hotels and meals, we plan our stops to sight see and our destination.

But what about our family's journey?

What is your destination? Where do you want to be as a family when your children are grown? What are you doing to get there? Are the choices you are making now helping you reach that destination, or are you just driving aimlessly down an unknown street hoping you will somehow arrive at your destination by pure chance?

Once I had a clear vision for our destination, I looked at my list of responsibilities and asked myself this question about each one: "Does this responsibility actively help me reach that destination or is it dead weight?"

If it was dead weight, it had to go.

But before I let it go, I had to do this one thing.

I had to give myself permission to disappoint myself and others.

In an attempt to please everyone around me, my plate was overflowing with other people's visions and other people's destinations. But where was mine?

Lost and forgotten down at the very bottom of the pile!

In essence, I was willing to disappoint God to please others.

"For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10, NKJV).

There are two kinds of expectations we meet in life:

Expectations of ourselves. If you are type-A, you likely have very high or impossible expectations of yourself. When you set a goal, you set it higher for yourself than you would ever set it for anyone else. We have to succeed ... every time. No failure. And we have to succeed better than anyone ever succeeded.

This is a trap. It keeps us in a constant state of stress because of our zero-tolerance policy for ourselves.

When it comes to letting go of extra responsibilities, we often have to give ourselves permission to "fail" at pleasing others first. This is a very freeing activity. Once you realize that you are simply incapable of succeeding every time, you are free! You are free to disappoint others. You are free to walk away and not allow that disappointment to eat at you for days and weeks.

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