I confess I’m a people-pleaser. For years I found a way to excuse this flaw by thinking, “Of course I want to please everyone. After all, I was a middle child.” As if my birth order would exempt me.
Of course, I want to be good. But too often, I want to be “liked” even more. Can you identify with me on this? Isn’t that why we post only the attractive pictures of ourselves? Or pictures with people we admire—or better yet a celebrity. It is one way to say, “Would you please like me? After all, look, I’m hanging out with these fun, important, beautiful people!” And as for those other photos that don’t make us look good, we can simply edit or delete or forget them altogether by boxing them up next to old Christmas ornaments in the garage.
In the old days, people could size others up by whom they married, who their parents were, or what they did. Now, through the ease of social media outlets we can easily edit our lives to make us look great. We present to the world of “friends” our good side…and hopefully they will “like” us.
I use Facebook and Instagram. I enjoy seeing what my friends are up to. I like to post articles and thoughts I have about what I am doing or reading. But the truth is, sometimes all this tempts me to present my humdrum, rather ordinary life to appear more happy, beautiful, and exciting than it is. (How often do you find a post where someone is asking for forgiveness, or confessing their mess-ups, or posting an unattractive photo of themselves? Rarely.)
Maybe this is the Holy Spirit talking just to me. But I don’t think so. May God give us the courage to face the unattractive sides of our lives and welcome His perspective on who it is that we really are.
Are we the person in the photo, caught in that soft lighting, smiling broadly at the camera? Sometimes. But more often, not. Haven’t you looked at your iPhone to take a picture and hit the reverse camera feature that turns the lens not on the subject you had in mind, but on yourself instead? Startling, isn’t it? Is that the real you, the real me, staring back? (Or in my case, squinting at the lens like a mole.) There we are, caught off guard in stark, unedited, unsettling reality.
That’s why I am continually amazed God calls us His “friends.” If there were a heavenly Facebook somewhere, and I were God, I would have left me in “friend request” limbo. And yet, by the greatest display of love ever, I have made it on His friends list.
He sees exactly who we are, right down to the essence of our self-absorbed beings. And yet, He still loves us. That’s grace. As someone once said, “I do not understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” Because of the saving life of Christ, we are accepted in the Beloved, friends of God. How amazing is that?
So what do we do with such an undeserved gift of love and acceptance?
- Receive it, and use it to see the truth about who we are.
- Repent daily (or more often!) from merely trying to look good.
- Refocus our desires from pleasing others to pleasing God.
After all, who really cares about you more?