She couldn’t believe she was doing it again.
Smiling and nodding, nodding and smiling.
It was like, the penguins from Madagascar- “Smile and wave boys.”
It seemed to be the easiest thing to do, and it was certainly the surest way to avoid any conflict.
So she smiled.
But inside she was drifting…
What are they talking about anyway?
I wonder if they even know what they’re talking about.
Seriously, why am I here?
To avoid rocking the boat, perhaps. To be the easy going people pleasing version of herself that everyone is used to. She sighed.
They don’t even know me. And it’s all my fault.
Moments like these can capture a number of us in various stages of life. Whether school age, college age, career age, or beyond, we will at times be faced with opportunities to present a version of ourselves. These moments simultaneously allow us to face who we truly are. Questions like,
“Who am I?” and, “Do I like who I am?” began to roll around in the mind. While the mental conversation should stop there, sadly it progresses dangerously to a final question, “Will they like who I am?” Those moments can be met with one of two responses: courage or fear.
The way of fear seems safe at first. It makes hiding the truth of who you are appealing. No one can dislike those they don’t see or know. No one can blame someone who is “invisible” and does nothing.
This invisibility comes in different degrees. For instance, there’s the tactic of blending in so much that no one even notices you. Your laugh is calculated to each setting and social group. You make sure not to ruffle anyone’s feathers with any disagreement. You go with the decision of whichever group you happen to have allowed yourself to be herded into at the moment. Really, all you wanted to do was go home and lose yourself in your new music gear.
Then there’s the other side of the invisibility coin.This is the strategy of being so overtly available and visible to everyone, that no one sees beyond the tiring charade. You know everyone and everyone knows you. You love everyone and everyone loves you (or so you hope); for this is the reason for the whole masquerade after all. You are the life of the group with a smile so convincing you feel remotely happy to play this role. For you, as well, the laugh, the gestures, are calculated to group and setting. You mesmerize the crowd, yet inside you’re wishing you could just plug in at the coffee shop and edit the photos you snapped yesterday.
No one knows that about you. Why not? Why are you afraid?
Maybe you’ve been crushed by rejection, paralyzed by ridicule, or humiliated because you had the wrong answer a few times. Maybe. But the path of fear quickly becomes stifling rather than safe. It silences your opinions. It renders you feeling voiceless, used, and ultimately, resentful. And it’s a hard road on which to back up. This is, after all, the personality you’ve portrayed for too long.
Initially, the uncertainty of being received by others may cause you to hesitate. Perhaps you’ll think, “How will they respond to the real me?”
But as one writer put it “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10) So you are suddenly reminded that you are “awesomely and wonderfully made” by your creator to please Him. He made you with something to offer.
You see, the path of courage promotes freedom- freedom to be who God created you to be. And it promotes God; who you are, testifies of his craftsmanship. This path relieves you of the pressure to live up to the ever-changing expectation of others. It instead frees you to discover your unique style, voice, opinions, and personality that God designed.
The courage response is empowering, rather than immobilizing. It compels compassion for others, because courage recognizes courage. It’s like noticing your new car is now everywhere; you suddenly see the courage in others who choose to stand opposite the many trying to blend in and avoid rocking the boat.
Lastly, the courage response is revealing. It enables you to realize your associates from your friends- those willing to appreciate, acknowledge, and support your God-designed uniqueness. It shows love. It says l value you enough to give you the choice to decide whether or not to give me your time and energy. It’s not our place to snatch God’s gift of free will from others. “Puppeteering” yourself to others desires, robs them of the decision to love you- rather than the mere projection of your idea of their desired you. And amazingly where you fit in the kingdom, begins to slowly unveil before your eyes. God made you, because He knew we’d need you- not someone else.
How do you break the chains and cut the puppet strings? How can you free yourself from self-imposed pressure and anxiety? It only takes one step, and it begins in the mind. One step away from the path of fear and onto the path of courage means one step closer to walking in your intended design. It’s never too late to choose courage, it just requires deliberate action. It’s about letting go of your pride, overcoming fear, and walking in and saying, “Hello…”
about the author
Chantel is the wife of an awesome spirit filled man of God, mom of the fun “spectacular six”, and a daughter of the most high King. She has a heart for connecting with others: a passion for evangelism, a joy for writing poetry and songs, and a desire to stir people to a relationship with God through His Word. You can also find her on her blog here – One Message – One Faith.