5/17/2018

PLEASE LOVE ME + other lies I hold onto

5/17/2018

When I was twelve I remember scaling the local library shelves for hours looking for the most interesting books. I love libraries - the smell, the crusty new-age librarian ladies, the magazine racks of VOGUE and Chatelaine and Seventeen magazine, the comic books and the really dusty and tattered Shakespeare plays in Ye Olde English Print - were all part of my little childhood dreamscape. One day I found a book in the Teen section called "How to Win Friends and Influence People, Jr." and my curiosity couldn't contain itself. I read all about body language, smiling, how to be a good conversationalist and what other people looked for in a friend. (sounds kind of like a serial killer, no? or maybe I've just been watching too much Hannibal)

I was homeschooled and "artsy" in middle school - during the age of stretchy tube tops, sticky lipgloss and msn. You know that scene in Shopaholic where Isla Fisher's mom is talking about sensible shoes? That's something I know all too well (in hindsight - thank you for thinking about arch-support, Mom. I'm grateful)

What I found in the library that day made me feel as though I had found The Key ✨ to making my life as shiny and glossy as the fashion magazines that I adored. (Jeanne Beker, if you're reading this, please be my friend) I think that there's something in everyone that wants to be well-liked, respected, or carry some level of influence. Being the It-Girl or the quintessential cool girl is intoxicating, forcing a desperate five seconds of fame onto anybody who desires to be known. I know that I still have parts of me that want to be known (by what, by who, is another conversation). Our hearts want to captivate something - to capture the adoration of the people we love. Often its not driven by something bad per se. We all want to be at home and accepted here.

Flash forward to my early adulthood, and I'd become somewhat of a small talk master. I learned in my teens that if I couldn't be pretty or wealthy, I should be funny and friendly instead. I realized I had a knack for making a good impression. I became that person who knew everybody, and everybody knew me. Instagram, man. What an invention. I joined the social media scene right when it was hitting the world's main stage - at such a critical time, I quickly became savvy. Don't even ask me if I plan my insta layouts ahead of time. Uoekno that I do. 

But after many steps back, social media breaks, 3am tear stained who-am-I-and-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life-and-why-did-I-say-like-twelve-stupid-things-yesterday conversations with God I've come to terms with the fact that yes, I am a people pleaser. And yes - a people pleaser doesn't always look like what you think it does.

I thought because I was strong and decisive I couldn't be a people pleaser. I thought I wasn't a people pleaser because I could say, "no". All the while my inner mantra and my outer actions screamed; "Everyone! Please love me! Please love me! Please love me!!!" 

Look at how nice I am. Look, I'm funny and fun to be around! I don't have any problems - I certainly don't talk about those problems - I have cute clothes and nice hair and my teeth are really really white! Look at this plant I just bought that I have no idea how to take care of because I only wanted to take a picture of it! Look, it's my feet on a tile floor! Look I like black coffee! Smile for the camera! Please love me!

It's exhausting.

So, I decided to go on a vulnerability journey. I wanted to find me under the veil of my people pleasing and plans of perfection. And like any good hipsta I took a look at my life and tried to get rid of the excess - get to the core of who I am and how I was made, and try to stick to that. So I stopped wearing makeup every day, and eating meat, and I got rid of 90% of my clothes, and I started writing about my feelings on the internet. Duh. (just kidding - there was also a lot of reflection, heartache, mistakes, and spiritual growth and turn-over that happened in the midst of all that)

And that's the reaaaallly short version. But it's not by any means a solution to my problem, which I'm realizing. Kind of while I'm reflecting and writing this post. Like, get this. I'm just as much of an inner mess with three tee shirts and a devotional plan compared to when I owned forty-six and never read the bible??? R U KIDDING ME. Right now I'm in the midst of planning a wedding (MY wedding. Ah!!!) and it's killing me a little inside. I thought I was over the pursuit of perfection and the people pleasing. I thought I was fine with accepting myself as I am and giving myself space to be. I THOUGHT I COULD HANDLE THE PRESSURE. GUESS WHAT, I CAN'T HANDLE THE PRESSURE.

If you're reading this and you thought you were over the lies, over the pleasing, and over the false perfection of it all - and then one big (or small) thing happened and you're sent into a tailspin of Please love me, World! - I get you. The attitude of please love me and the lies that come with it is pervasive and even encouraged in our society. Let's be people who give care, concern, and compassion to those that need it - let's be people who are joyful in themselves even if it's not as inviting or glamorous as we'd like to make it seem. Who don't shy away when we see someone else's mess (including our own).

Let's take a deep breath and say no to our own lies. Command those thoughts! I know you have it in you. And if you don't, I know the One who can strengthen you so you can. I love in Ephesians where it says to throw off your old way of life and let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. I need that really badly these days. I know that my new nature and my new life in Christ means that I don't have to reach a standard of perfection created by human hands (or, just my own). As much as I hate this idea, not everybody is going to love me. No matter how badly I try and impress, charm, and please my way into their hearts. I will try and deceive my way into being liked - I'll use the fear of missing out (that's a new term for an old concept - hello, LUST) to get people to think I'm something special. But the gospel puts the breaks on my behavior and reminds me of who I am.

I am whole, unique, not too much - not too little - but just right. I am new, ever-growing, and I am passionately and recklessly loved. 

Screw $600 wedding centerpieces.