“Before complaining that you are a slave to another, be sure that you are not a slave to self. Look within;…You will find there, perchance, slavish thoughts, slavish desires, and in your daily life and conduct slavish habits. Conquer these; cease to be a slave to self, and no man will have the power to enslave you.” – James Allen
I recently read an article that made me change my mind….several times while I was reading it. This particular article advocated the life approach where one stops trying to live to please others and get approval from them SOOOO much, stop making excuses, stop apologizing, stop explaining, stop feeling that your life needs justification. Yeah, I thought. People pleasing never makes anyone happy. Your life is YOURS, after all. End of story, goodbye, see you later, right? Well, not so fast.
Perhaps we do not owe an explanation to every one of a dozen busybodies who seem oh so genuinely concerned when they ask about the reason little Johnny or Susie can’t attend their child’s slumber party. Maybe your kid doesn’t like them, or has a stomach bug, or is (GASP) grounded for being a less than lovely person themselves. Maybe you decide to have yet another baby, or quit your job, or go on a date with “them”, or go back to school, or take a self-defense class, or anything. Eyebrows may rise as the questions are asked. Well, so what? You don’t have to go into details. You don’t owe your life’s ambitions and dreams and details to anyone who crosses your path. Maybe they should, I don’t know, live their OWN lives for a change?
BUT, that doesn’t mean that we can blithely walk along with zero accountability, zero consequences, and zero fault. We have been sold the lie of do what you want with zero guilt for too many years by advertising companies selling us everything from divorce attorneys to whole grain bread. We cannot fall so easily for that line. There are always consequences. Our lives affect the people around us. Our choices have a ripple effect whether that seems comfortable to us or not. Of course we would all like to go merrily along without a care swinging our lunch pail as we skip down the road. This, however, is the attitude of children. Sooner or later, if we want to have our adult ambitions to come to fruition, we MUST grow up. Maturity means being OK with not always getting your way. Mature people understand that there are times when hard work is done and patience is exercised in order to make things happen for the better. We can’t just turn up our noses and tell everyone “none of your beeswax”; but we CAN, and should, set limits on the access others have to our life’s information. Some things should be off limits, like your or your spouse’s salary, whether or not you plan on having more children, medical issues, relationship concerns, etc.
I would like to add another accountability partner we all have, like it or not. (Deep breath I’m about to dig myself a BIG hole.) At the end of our lives, we will individually answer for our choices as we stand before God. Jesus told his disciples that the only way to God was through him, aka faith in Christ. I have recently been struggling with my long-held concept of what following Christ actually means. I always think I have things all figured out until I live a little longer and go through stuff. It isn’t so much that I have lost faith in God so much as I have lost faith in myself to be up to the task. I have been a follower of Christ for many years now and there are days when I think I am farther away than ever. Thankfully, God’s arms are always reaching, very stretchy, and they never let me go. I have never been and will never be abandoned by Him, not once. People walk away and stop caring and get jealous and force you out of your job or your comfy spot in the family or whatever else you may place too much confidence in keeping you happy. God does not change. He has the very highest plans for us, plans of abundant grace and joy and peace, soul-thriving, difference-making, lovely lives indeed. Why do we get that scrunchy leave-me-alone pout on so many times as we look over our shoulder at God like he’s some big meany who wants to just control us and tell us how to play with all of our toys? God is the BOSS. He doesn’t rant and rave about it. He gives people a lot of free rein. Many have a problem with that about others. Why do other people do so many evil things? Why does God allow other people to do bad things? Now wait a second here Folks, I have done some bad things, and yet I have never once had a set of holy handcuffs slapped on my wrists, have you? We ALL do bad things and also have the ability to choose to do good things. Why is it that we blame God for people misusing what was meant to be an amazing gift to every son or daughter that ever walked or is walking or will walk the earth?
We have all had bad bosses. No one wants to be under the thumb of someone who berates you, puts you down or micromanages you. The stories from work weary employees about their difficult bosses are many. Any mistreatment from a person makes you cringe at the thought of anyone else ever being in that position over you again. God, however, is not an abusive and insensitive employer. God is not an abusive parent or cheating spouse. He will never love you “if…”. He loves you, period. He also wants all of us to have the very best life that we can have. This includes not mistreating others or taking them for granted. Make good choices, because it matters, because it affects others as well as yourself, because you have eyes on you from above. Remember you are watched, not because God wants you under control, but because he loves you.