Fresh out of college, I was given a killer opportunity. I was hired by a telecom giant at 22 years old. I had a great salary, amazing benefits, and opportunities to travel all over the United States. But I wasn’t that great at my job and after only 2 years with the company, I was laid off.
I had a killer severance package and I told my husband that I wanted to do something fun while that severance supported me. Somewhere in those next three months I shifted from, “I am competent and smart and will do a great job” to “Please like me!” Oh, Ann. Yikes.
I got a job at a local craft store where I catered to and assisted a lot of people. It was clear right out of the gates that people liked me. And DANG that felt good! After only a month, I was promoted to a management position and I thought things were going really well for this college graduate (who was working retail to hide from the fact that she royally screwed up her opportunity of a lifetime).
But trouble started when I began to notice some inner workings that I didn’t like, and certainly didn’t agree with. But remember I wanted people to like me, so I chose not to ruffle feathers. The talk about customers behind their backs made me feel dirty.
Even more mortifying than hearing the conversations was PARTICIPATING in the conversations, which easily led to conversations about co-workers behind their backs as well. I crossed the line, just to be liked.
I drew the line when I overheard and witnessed conversation about ME. Funny, isn’t it? It was so easy to participate in the conversation until I knew they were talking about me too. Only THEN did I draw the line. At about this time, social media was starting to pop up here and there (no smartphones yet thank the Lord) and I found out that I was being talked about via email and social media mostly because I stood up and said “hey – this isn’t cool – at all.” (However, I’m in my young 20’s at this point and I probably had the complete package of entitlement with a red bow of attitude to go along with my soap box speech.) Before I knew it, my entire goal to get people to like me turned into a 911 call-to-arms to put out all the social media fires. I was crushed. I BAWLED over the phone to my college roommate.
But I thought they liked me!
I thought they liked me.
As the book of Joshua starts, Moses has just passed away and the leadership “torch” has been passed to Joshua. One of the first few things he has to do is conquer Jericho. I could have learned a lot from Joshua back in my early days of adulthood. Joshua didn’t care what everyone else thought, even though he was about to ask them to act a little crazy.
“Ok guys, we’re going to walk around this sucker once every day – but you can’t say a WORD. Then on the 7th day, we will walk around this sucker SEVEN times, the priests will blow their horns and we’re going to get crazy up in here with our voices! I mean, I want to REALLY hear you, people! Then the walls will fall down and the Lord will make it easy for us to defeat our enemies. Trust me on this, He personally told me this is how it will go down.” (MAJOR paraphrase of Joshua 6:1-11)
Joshua did what he knew was right, even though he was about to ask for his troops to commit to a crazy battle plan. He didn’t care if the people didn’t like him. There was work to be done.
It has taken me years to overcome this people-pleasing problem. I think I’m fairly close to conquering it, and then I fail miserably again in a single conversation. But this is what I love about scripture: I’m going to change, but scripture isn’t. The truths within will still be applicable to me 3 years from now when I’m wondering where I went wrong… again.
Father, fill me with your spirit so that appreciation from people has no room to soak into me. Bring me back to scripture to see how to live and how not to live. THANK YOU for believing in me, even though I screw things up over and over again. That kind of love is inspiring, refreshing, and so very comforting. Remind me that I don’t need others to like me because you LOVE me more deeply than my mind can understand… and that’s all I need. AMEN