When the opinions of others matter too much

Column Post by Laura Hyers

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  Galatians 1:10

I’m an approval addict. There isn’t a pretty way to put it, or some fantastic way to sugarcoat it, because it’s not good or healthy or any shiny sort of flaw that can be disguised as a virtue. It’s destructive and it’s crippling and I’m seeing now more than ever the ways that it controls me deep down to the core of who I am, the strings that have tangled themselves around every area of my life.

I want my family and friends to think I’m making good choices, the decisions that are best for me in the long run, the plans that they approve of. And even as I type out these letters, I see the dysfunction in the words.

Caleb told me a few weeks ago that the question that defines my life is, “How is this going to affect the people around me?” And he’s right. It wasn’t a malicious statement, just an observation, but it was dead on.

I analyze every situation through the eyes of all the people who matter to me, seeing every possible outcome and the hundreds of millions of ways that each individual could interpret it and what they’ll think of me and why they’ll think I did what I did and the circle keeps going around and around until it closes in on itself and I’m paralyzed with all the ways people are going to interpret, or misinterpret, what I’m about to do.

The liberating thing here is that if I’m doing what’s right in God’s eyes, it doesn’t matter what other people think. End of story. It just doesn’t matter.

And that concept, for me, is mind-blowing. If I’m following God’s Word, if I’m living with Jesus as my example, the opinions of those around me, no matter how important they are, don’t mean a thing.

The first Christians were crazy in the eyes of their families. They were outcasts and radicals and they did things that made absolutely no sense because the Spirit told them to. There is so much freedom in following God, but the terrifying thing is that in order to get that freedom you actually have to follow Him. Really, outrageously, unsafely follow Him.

It’s scary for an approval addict to make decisions and know that someone important to them won’t like it. It’s hard to make a choice and know ahead of time that someone somewhere will be offended. But the first Christians offended lots of people in the name of following their Savior.

In the long run, He is the only one who can give me freedom from this—and freedom looks like giving up my crazy approval-seeking-circle dance.

What is Christ offering to liberate you from? Are you crazy enough to hold onto it still?

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Laura Hyers is a Tampa native, writer, and the newly wed wife of musician Caleb. She recently graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in literature and is currently teaching preschool. When not chasing a class of two-year-olds, Laura is writing and fighting fierce bouts of wanderlust. She loves music, reading, being near the ocean, and dreaming big over huge cups of coffee with her best friend Lakin. Laura blogs at http://littlebirdmarie.wordpress.com.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

One thought on “When the opinions of others matter too much

  1. It’s a really good thing that I’m on campus right now, because I just love crying in public. How is it that you always speak to the deepest and most painful secrets of my heart in a way that is at once soothing and challenging? I. love. you. And your words.

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