Confessions Of An Ex-People Pleaser

Since the beginning of this year, one of the things the Holy Spirit has been repeating in my ear is “We are NOT people pleasing this year, Mo” [yeah, the Holy Spirit calls me by my nickname, so what? Lol!]. Hearing those words constantly made it necessary for me to evaluate just how many of my decisions were being made JUST for the sake of getting the approval of others. Even as far back as I can remember, my choice on who to associate with was based on who others would approve of. From best friends to boyfriends, I only wanted those that would validate me in the eyes of others. Thankfully, I was always rejected by the “in-crowd” so even when I was fighting it tooth and nail, God lead me to people who would be genuine in their love for me, regardless of whether they happen to be the most popular individuals or the most despised. As I began my journey into courtship, people pleasing was one of the FIRST things God wanted to rid out of my spirit. To such an extent that God would not ALLOW me to seek other people’s approval of my relationship. Beyond our parents, pastors and spiritual mentors, I did not say anything to anyone else about my relationship. God specifically told me that had I sought other people’s opinion or even laid my relationship bare for others to peruse and criticize, I would have immediately started finding fault with my partner and even with GOD and how He was moving in the midst of our relationship. So I learned, at least in the context of my relationship, not to live for the opinions of others.

Then God moved on to my friendships, associations and work in ministry. A long time ago, I made peace with the fact that no matter how desperately I had sought popularity as a teenager and young adult, I was not meant to be one of the “beautiful people.” God knew me enough to know that the type of attention I was seeking would have become an idol that utterly destroyed me if I were to ever receive it.

Okay. That’s fine, God.

If I wasn’t going to be universally loved, then I NEEDED to not be hated. That wasn’t too much to ask, right? The thought of someone finding fault in me petrified me. If I found out someone did not LIKE me or had spoken ill of me, I would literally crawl into myself and just cry. I didn’t want ANYONE to dislike me. This made it hard for me to confront issues head on. I would suppress ill or hurt feelings towards others because I was petrified that simply stating how I felt or trying to resolve conflict would cause someone to hate me even more. I became this insecure, self-consumed person who was petrified of one negative word from any source, no matter how far removed. Criticisms (constructive or otherwise) sent me into a tailspin as I would try my best to become everything to everyone.

Hindsight is 20/20 so I see clearly now how that mindset would have completely hindered everything I wanted to achieve in Christ if it had persisted in my life. However, people pleasing in my life took on a more subtle form after I gave my life to Christ. I would often seek multiple opinions about something even though I already knew what to do. If I made a decision led by wise counsel and others disagreed, I immediately started questioning what I had already decided. I would sometimes hesitate to testify FULLY of what God has done in my life for fear of being judged by present company. Even these subtle signs of “the fear of men” could have derailed God’s plans for me, especially in this new year.

This year is the one that God has set aside for me to publish the book He placed on my heart. As a people-pleaser, I could have NEVER publish a book like this one. This book is transparent, raw and unapologetic about the consequences of sin and the standards of God. I would have been too SCARED of the opinions of others to ever be associated with a book like this one. The thought of others identifying me with the main characters bad acts and failings would have been enough to send me running for the hills. A people pleaser simply cannot accomplish much and God has placed the desire to do great exploits on my heart. This desire has been ever-present, unwavering, from the age of three when I became aware of my “self”.

I finally realized that all of the things that God wants to do WITH my life are going to elicit strong criticisms and backlash from others. I had always thought that weddings were happy occasions where everyone celebrates with the bride and groom. I am finding more and more that weddings also bring out the worst in others, present company included. Planning for such a grand occasion gives us as human beings the perfect opportunity to be self-absorbed, selfish, critical, back-biting, envious and completely irrational in our motives and actions. So, am I suppose to remain single because getting married opens me up to a new level of scrutiny and ill-motivated criticisms from others? Absolutely not.

Mentoring and sharing my journey (failings and all) with those younger than me opens me up to criticisms and gossip from those who do not see me as a daughter of the Most High God but rather as the same worldly, carnal girl of old who now wears a cloak of perfection. Should I stop speaking the Gospel because some people do not see me as qualified enough or perfect enough to tell others anything about God? I refuse to back down.

Writing a book opens me up to the critique of others. Some will be critiquing my style, grammar, choice of anecdotes, character development and other literary aspects of the book. Others will critique my intelligence, my views, my past, my opinions and ME as a person and may find me lacking. Even THAT is not enough to cause me to disobey what God has placed on my heart to do.

This year is not about being cocky or alienating others. It’s about being so GOD-FOCUSED that I am no longer moved by the opinion of man. I am 29 years and 6 months old, and sadly it has taken me almost THIS long to finally be able to live based on God’s definition of who I am, rather than on the good or bad opinions of others – opinions that change like the wind.

One of my favorite verses James 4:4 says that if anyone desires to be a friend of the world, he makes himself an enemy of God. Friendship with  the world is enmity with God. I don’t know about anyone else but I NEED GOD! I need God for my day to day life. I need Him to perfect these crazy, flesh-driven and subtle tendencies that are still hiding out in my personality and spiritual life. I need Him to teach me how to be a crown to my husband’s head rather than a thorn in His side. I need God to teach me how to fully honor my parents in all of my doings, from the smallest details to the largest. I need God to direct me in leading the younger generation to Himself. I NEED GOD! My need for God makes it completely IDIOTIC on my part to alienate the Creator of Heaven and Earth because I’m chasing after somebody’s approval. I can’t afford to be a people-pleaser any longer. My destiny is too expensive for that!

These are the confessions of an EX people-pleaser. Color me DELIVERED!


The Importance Of Being…SINGLE!!!

If you read my last entry, you know I touched briefly on what it means to be ready for marriage. In this post, I want to elaborate on what it means to be SINGLE and why it is the most important  thing to anyone who desires to one day build a godly home with a spouse.

I once heard a quote on marriage that was so profound and so SIMPLE, it changed my entire outlook on relationships, and it is this – “you can’t be married until you’re SINGLE”. Now reading those words flippantly, one might be tempted to respond with a big “well DUH!”. But pause for a minute…

Let’s look at the meaning of the word SINGLE.

Single – adj; not married [okay, no surprises there]; frank, honest [hmmmm, interesting that the definition of SINGLE will relate to character. Let’s keep going] ; unbroken, undivided [DING DING DING!!! WE HAVE A WINNER!!!]. 

So, one of the definitions of what it means to be SINGLE is UNBROKEN or UNDIVIDED – in other words, WHOLE! How many broken people do you know out here looking for a relationship? Many people are anxiously waiting for marriage while still broken from the pain  of their past. If you’re broken, you’re not SINGLE and you can’t be married until you’re single (even the laws of the land will tell you that).

So, how does one become SINGLE or walk in purposeful and godly singleness? Well for me, that question was answered in a two step process.

Step 1 – CUT OFF every tie (relationship, friendship, habits, what have you) that DIVIDES my loyalty between itself and God.

Step 2 – RUN into God’s waiting arms and STAY THERE!

Step 1 was vitally important for me because when I began my journey into being SINGLE, I was already in a committed relationship that was headed for marriage. I knew that my relationship had been built on an improper foundation (see anything other than Christ”, even good things like good looks and common interests) so therefore the Demolition Company was called in (d/b/a Holy Spirit). I gave God free reign to completely dismantle that relationship. If it was God’s will for us to go forward together, I trusted that He would rebuild the relationship on SOLID foundation (aka the Solid Rock).

Now, even before I became a real Christian (not that lukewarm mess I was in for years), I have been a PRO at Step 1. If the guy I was with wasn’t treating me right, I cut him off! If a friend started acting trifling, I cut them off. If an acquaintance stepped out of line, I cut them OFF! I was good at cutting people off.

Now, STEP 2 though….that was a different story all together.

Of course I would run into the arms of Jesus for comfort and safety every time my heart was broken but staying there was a different matter all together. This time was RADICALLY DIFFERENT though.

Not only did God call me out of my sinful relationship, but because He finally had my attention, He began to LAVISH me with a love like I had NEVER know in LIFE. Every day, He would point me to the love letters He had written for me in the book of Psalms or Songs of Solomon or Matthew or John or Revelation or even Genesis. Moment by moment He would explain to me how precious and beautiful and priceless I was in His eyes. He would give glimpses of the GLORIOUS future He has prepared for me. It was nothing like I had ever experienced in my life. I was completely LOVE STRUCK!

Now with my loyalty clearly UNDIVIDED and utterly fixed on Christ alone, I began an 18 month journey of ABSOLUTE SINGLENESS (no crushes, no dates, no guy friends, “special” or otherwise, NO NOTHING). It was just me and Christ. In that time period as God continued to groom me and teach me to find joy and completeness in Him alone, I started asking Him questions. I finally understood just how the idolatrous nature of my past relationships had doomed them from the start. And trust me it was idolatry. Side note – anyone you are willing to disobey God for, IS your god (idolatry at its finest).

Previously when I met a guy that I connected with, I would commence with making him the center of my universe. If i needed counsel, answers, advice, or comfort – no need to pray – just ask Mr Boyfriend Man. I would pour out all of my affection and love into the relationship while completely neglecting anything else, even my relationship with God.

Well, enter Deut 12:3-4

” And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things.”

So now that my idols (inordinate affection for romance/relationships) had been smashed to pieces, I was in EXCELLENT position to fulfill God’s purpose for my singleness. In this time of ABSOLUTE SINGLENESS, God began to pour into me. He taught me how DISGUSTING sin looks to Him. How my years of lukewarmness both nauseated Him and broke His heart. He taught me that LOVE was not a feeling but a PERSON (JESUS CHRIST, patient, kind,  not seeking His own, the very embodiment of 1 Corinthians 13). He taught me how EXPENSIVE grace was for Him despite that it’s free to us.

God began to expose me to me. He showed me that my tendency to “people please” would always put me at odds with His will for my life if I continued. He taught me how to STOP LYING to avoid negative consequences. He taught me to PRAY for people even when I wanted to hate them. He taught me to LOVE others without expectation. God did a lot. He also taught me what a godly, Christ-focused, Heaven approved relationship looked like from His perspective. The Holy Spirit literally filled me up with knowledge about marriage and relationship at a time when I was totally without prospects.

Well, after one year and six months of ABSOLUTE SINGLENESS, the Holy Spirit in His infinite wisdom and mercy had broken every bad relationship habit I had acquired over 26 years of life (and trust me, I was a hot mess!). In that same time period, I blossomed joyfully in His presence, bearing fruit that I had long waited to see in my own life. Instead of being double-minded and hypocritical,  God removed the shame of my past and granted me a precious gift – the gift of transparency (lol, it is a JOY to be able to speak the whole truth after years of hiding in the shadows of sin’s shame). I call it a gift because not everyone has it, not even all Christians have it. In my time of ABSOLUTE singleness, God gave me insight into what my destiny looks like from His eyes. He granted me the privilege and honor to pour into the lives of the younger generations behind me, especially teenage girls. He equipped me with the grace to share my heart wholly and truthfully with them, helping them to navigate the choppy waters of young adulthood and avoid the traps that the enemy has lying in wait for them.

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my season of ABSOLUTE SINGLENESS yielded much fruit. I am still single because I am not married yet, but as a woman engaged to one of God’s precious and valiant sons, this season is not of absolute singleness. This season of my life is about transitioning to be a WIFE AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART (props to the book by Elizabeth George by the same title – I am re-reading it for the 3rd time and it is BLOWING  ME AWAY!).

So, if you are still broken about your past and in need of healing, go to God – GET WHOLE! GET SINGLE! If you are currently unmarried and you desire to build a home and family under that sacred covenant between you, your spouse and God, I suggest you GET SINGLE. Because we all know, you can’t be married until you’re single.

I pray this blesses your life and your journey with Christ! I pray you find purpose and joy in singleness. May it be a time of EXPONENTIAL growth in Christ rather than drudgery to you. Love you guys!

(if you have any questions or want me to pray along with you on anything you’ve read here please reach out to me on Twitter @attorney_of_luv or email me at threeb_forlife@yahoo.com or comment with your contact info).


Lasting impact on the next generation

One of my passions in life is impacting the lives of young girls before they start making the mistakes that plague grown women today. Our culture sends youth aged/teenage girls a lot of mixed signals that can be destructive to their development. Personally, as a preteen of 11 years old, my desire to be desired was overpowering every other aspect of my life. I wanted nothing more than to look like Cindy Crawford or Tyra Banks (curvy, tall, boobs out to here, tiny waist, flawless skin, the whole shebang). I languished about my short and waif like figure (I was about 75 pounds from 10-12 years old at almost 5 foot tall). I fretted about my dark skin, my short hair, and anything else I could pick on. This made me extra sensitive to how others perceived me. Whether they were compliments or insults, I drank in the opinion of others like rain on a thirsty ground. When someone complimented any part of me, I would begin to vigilantly accentuate it. When someone made a disparaging comment about any part of me, I fell to pieces, often spending hours or days in tears (especially if it was something I couldn’t change. Example – “You are so dark! I bet when you get a tan you turn purple!”).

This lack of self-esteem and self-assurance caused me to engage in reckless activities to feed my ego. I encouraged boys my age and even those out of my age group (i.e. – the 18 year old senior I dated when I was 13)  to view me in a sexually appealing way by dressing provocatively and engaging in pre-sexual activities with guy friends. From this dangerous behavior came the emotional consequences of shame, guilt and feelings of worthlessness. Those feelings led to more destructive behavior in college as I upped the ante in an effort to be accepted (see “underage drinking, destructive social activities, questionable “friendships” with guys”). Eventually as an adult (over the age of 21) I decided to stop all of my self-destructive behavior. I also (wrongly) concluded that the acceptance I needed would come from experiencing a great love from a man who was worthy of me. I poured myself into one relationship after another in hopes that this one would be “the one”. All you have to do is look back at my posts from October 2005 to January 2006 to see how well that worked out.

With each new heartbreak, I changed for the worse. Convinced that my relationships were falling apart because I was somehow not good enough, I tried to be more to each new guy, giving up more and more of myself, my beliefs, my faith and my standards until I couldn’t recognize me anymore. Hindsight is 20/20 so I see clearly how the lies I believed as a teenager contributed to the mistakes I made as an adult. I want to save our young girls from the same heartbreak. Experience is an expensive teacher. A lot of women who traveled the same part that I took to get here don’t make it. They break along the way. I would hate for any young woman that I had the opportunity to help, mentor or teach to walk the same destructive path that I took. It’s not worth it to make your own mistakes when you can learn from others. I hope to impact the next generation by being transparent about my mistakes and generous with the lessons that I have learned and now live by.


Musings on Weddings and Marriages

All the weddings going on around me have had me thinking about marriages lately. As much as I love weddings, and believe me when I say I lo-ove weddings, I value godly marriages so much more. It makes me happy to see couples with a strong spiritual foundation blossoming in their relationship with each other and with God.

Knowing that a couple has done their spiritual homework, so to speak, gives me this giddy excitement about their future. If you wanna know what I mean by homework, I’ll give you a few things I believe are good starters. Being spiritually led to begin the relationship for one, continuous advice and counseling from godly spiritual mentors and the Word of God, a commitment to purity and spiritual growth within the relationship, diligently examining compatibility and suitability, etc. This list is of course not an exhaustive one. Notwithstanding, a relationship that starts here and responds appropriately from here is to be valued. It’s like placing yourself in the best position for God to do His best in the midst of your relationship. I don’t know about anyone else but I feel the most confident about my decisions when I know I’m working within God’s plans for me. Godliness and purity are definitely a part of God’s plans for me and all His children. I hate the guess work that comes with relationships that are based in wordliness or sin or simply feelings. “Is s/he the one or isn’t s/he?” That trial and error crap is strictly for the birds. I will not be dragging my heart and soul through the mud trying to “find” the one. By that methodology, by the time the right person comes along, I’m too broken to recognize them. I rather position myself where God wants me and watch Him work. When you’re rightly positioned, you can be confident that God is ordering your steps even through the trials in your relationship.

I just love to see what God does in the midst of a relationship that’s totally surrendered to Him. I’ve seen these types of couples ministering together, enjoying real intimacy and joy with each other. I’ve seen them being used to heal others in broken relationships and a number of other amazing things. So, even though I am a huge fan of weddings, I’m an even bigger fan of godly relationships.

[SN: Pardon the brevity of this post but this is coming to you live from my BlackBerry and I don’t love typing on this itty bitty keyboard]


Am I ready?

Being faithful to the things God has been doing in my life required me to take my attention off the things I use to long after (love and marriage) and just pursue the things of God. There seems to be a new season in my life now where I’m being required to learn to pursue God in the midst of a relationship that pleases Him. The only question I have is directed to myself. Am I ready? Am I consistent enough to keep a dynamic prayer life and bible study and still invest time in a relationship? Am I strong enough to continue to be who I know God has called me to be in the midst of my first attempt at a relationship that glorifies God? Am I able to withstand the stress and hardship that comes with putting someone else’s needs before my own?

I have no answers to any of those questions. I’m just trying to remain as prayerful as possible, paying attention to the signs of my maturity (or lack thereof) in Christ to handle a situation like this one. My prayer is that if for any reason, I am not ready, God will grant me the grace as He did two years ago, to recognize that His will is not being done and to step away. For now, I’m praying, seeking godly counsel and paying attention to the move of the Holy Spirit and to the kinds of fruit this situation is bearing in me. Keep me in your prayers. The last thing I want to do is serve my emotions rather than serving God.


Learning to Serve In Order to Lead

When I first heard God speaking to me about exactly what He wanted me to do with the story of my life, I thought “YES, now all I have to do is teach others what I’ve learned and they’ll avoid the pitfalls and everything will be wonderful” Yup, I seriously thought that because I was fulfilling an assignment from God, everything was going to be just joy and laughter every step of the way. And at first, it really was. I was so excited to be in the center of God’s will. I was just teaching everything He would reveal to me. My only thought was that those I was ministering to would take the Word and apply it and run with it because it was the right thing to do. It NEVER once occurred to me that I could teach them the very truth of God and they would not accept or want it. The reality smacked me in the face about a month and a half ago and it literally broke my heart. I felt like the worst teacher ever. How can I be teaching the truth of the Bible and it have no impact on the lives in my class? I felt like a complete failure. God has been working on me since then because I’ve found myself having a nonchalant attitude about my class since then. I kept thinking “why should I continue to kill myself to bring them quality Bible studies if it’s just going into one ear and out the other?”

I realize now that it was my pride that was talking. My feelings were hurt that people weren’t learning as much from ME as I once thought. I definitely have to crucify that flesh and work in the understanding that just because I don’t see immediate results of what God has called me to do, I am not justified in abandoning my work. I have to find my zeal and my passion once again. I have to humble myself and be a servant to the ministry that God is building within me. Being a leader isn’t about being the boss, it’s about doing what is best for everyone and I can’t possibly know what that is if I don’t leave myself available for God to use me as He sees fit. Even if it means enduring some disrespectful behavior or ungratefulness or bad attitudes, I’ve got to do what God has called me to do. No questions asked.