From an early age, I learned that it was important to please and impress people. There was a focus on being intelligent, getting a good education, being popular, dressing fashionably, etc. As a child and teenager, I frequently compared myself to others and consequently never felt good enough. My friends always seemed smarter, better looking, better at playing the piano and better at sports.
I lost my self-confidence and became very quiet. My quietness alienated me even more from others until I lost my friends. I couldn’t express myself because I was too afraid of rejection. I felt like I was on the outside, and was painfully aware of my isolation. I remember feeling very lonely and unhappy within. It was as though the real me was locked up in a box, and I longed to be free.
I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in this miserable state and began searching for a solution that would quiet my inner being. I did not understand yet that the root of my problem was living alienated from God and that it was only with God that I could find true freedom.
It only matters what God thinks
When I was 20 years old, I came in contact with someone who told me, for the first time in my life, that I could ask Jesus into my heart and He would become my friend. Jesus became my Lord and Savior; I gave my heart and life entirely over into His hands. I no longer felt alone. I relinquished all control of living for myself, as I had painfully learned from the past that such a life only led to feelings of guilt, disappointments, regrets, and unhappiness. I became dependent on Jesus to guide my life and lead me in all of my decisions. I experienced a degree of joy and peace, but was still plagued by what people thought about me.
Often, I found myself justifying what I had said or done to gain others approval. God’s Holy Spirit gradually enlightened me, through the Scriptures, and I learned that there was only One whom I had to please, and that was Jesus. He loved me and died for me so that I could be liberated from all of my chains. I made a firm decision to no longer consciously seek to please people, but only my dear Jesus. A Word of God that strengthened me during that time was, “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13. I realized that God’s eyes are always watching me, so I no longer need to be occupied with what other people think of me. It only matters what God thinks.
Sometimes strong personalities made me shrink back and want to withdraw inside myself. The verse, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” became a weapon for me against these feelings of fear. (2 Timothy 1:7) Over time, I became more and more liberated from what people think. Instead of being bound to others, I happily became more and more bound to my dear Jesus, and what God thought about me. I compared myself to what God’s Word said and let Him teach me how to live so I could please Him.
I began to think in a completely new and different way. I understood that life didn’t revolve around me. Instead of seeking to satisfy my own self-interest, I became occupied with serving and caring for others, while at the same time becoming more and more free from what people thought about me. The good Lord opened up many opportunities for me to carry this out.
Now when I am together with friends and family I am able to express myself freely with lightness and laughter. I am now occupied with listening to my friends and family with the purpose to be a help for them and if possible alleviate their burdens. My life is rich and full. When you truly become liberated from only thinking about yourself and how the others view you, you can help the others find their way to God and experience the same freedom.
Jesus has given me a sound mind and I can freely express myself with the gifts and personality that I have been given. Worry and anxiety no longer have control over me. God is my helper and I pray and ask for help in times of need. The heavy burden I carried for so many years has vanished. My rest and peace have grown deep like a calm and serene river. I am freer and lighter with each passing day. Jesus is indeed the Great Liberator!