Tag Archives: Christ

People-Pleasing and the Book of Galatians

I used to be a bona fide people-pleaser.  It sickens me now, actually, how much I lived for approval and affirmation from others.  The validation was a high, and eventually I found myself unable to live without it.

While I had nearly always been a people-pleaser, I had not always had approval or affirmation or validation.  I was like a little kid bouncing up and down, shouting, “Look at me! Look at me!” until finally someone did. Overnight, people were impressed with me, and that felt good. Really good.

Problem was, those things I did to get people’s attention were not really me.  I didn’t really want to showcase my doctrinal prowess, run myself ragged serving the church, give resources that I didn’t actually have, or fully embrace ideologies I didn’t fully agree with.  I felt like I needed to in order to keep people interested, because really, what was I to them without these things?

I felt enslaved, and I resented it.

Eventually, I couldn’t keep it up, and like a self-fulfilling prophecy, I lost my approval, affirmation, and validation from others.

Then, I felt like nothing.

One day, I was reading the book of Galatians and came across this verse: “I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant” (Galatians 1:10, NLT).

It took me reading Galatians (and this verse) several times before I began to understand that my people-pleasing lifestyle was not pleasing to Christ.  When I lived my life to please other people, I was enslaved to them and what they wanted, and I was not considering what Christ wanted.

I began asking what He wanted, thinking He was going to give me some big old to-do list.  And because I’d been (mis)taught that the only way to serve Christ was to serve His Church, I assumed it would involve many of the same things I’d been doing before.

To my surprise, God told me, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a, NKJV).  Another translation says “cease striving” and that really hit me in the gut, because I had been striving – going to unnatural lengths to earn approval, affirmation, and validation.  As I gave up ministry after ministry to be still in God’s presence, people kept telling me I was going in the wrong direction, but I knew (although I didn’t fully understand) that God was pleased with the direction I was taking. I didn’t need to be doing more to please God.

God told me,  “I came so that you could have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, paraphrased).  I began to understand that I already had everything I needed to enjoy what God called me to.  I had been living a half-life because my schedule was so jam-packed and I was convinced that the more of myself I gave, the more I would be given by God. (Oh, the legalism I had gotten myself into there).  I didn’t need to give more to please God.

God told me, “Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made you free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1, NKJV).  This was the hardest for me.  When people would offer their insight on what I was doing (without understanding why), it was challenging for me to remember that I had freedom to step away the way I did.  I wanted to explain until they got it (i.e., approved), but I found that I no longer needed to. I was exactly who and where God called me to be, and that became the most important thing.  I didn’t need to be more to please God.

It was like the gospel 2.0, although I’d been following Christ for around for years at that point: Christ had already done what needed to be done, given what needed to be given, and been what needed to be in order to please God.  I have God’s approval because of Christ.  Beyond that, I say with confidence that God is pleased when I seek Him and His call in my life.

And God’s pleasure is all I care about.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What’s Keeping You From Christ?

I’d really like to know.

No judgment.

I’m just really interested.

Email me [lydia (dot) evelyn(dot)thomas(at)gmail(dot)com], hit me up on Facebook  or Twitter, comment.

I’m not going to try to convert you, argue with you, or have a conversation you don’t want to have.

I just want to hear what you have to say, and if you have questions for me, I’ll endeavor to answer them. But for this conversation, I’m mostly just an ear.

So, please, what’s keeping you from Christ?

Be honest, because yes, I really want to know.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

In order to make much of Jesus in 2014, Jesus has to be who I’m focused on.

My path has been crazy the past several years, and I’m not yet where I tend to think I should be at this point in my life.

But when I fix my eyes on Jesus, when HE is who I pursue, everything else will fall into place.  I don’t need to worry about being in the right place at the right time, because if I’m following Him, I WILL be exactly where I need to be, when I need to be there.

As I began to focus on Him yesterday, God revealed that He has given me one final place of respite and growth before planting me in ministry.  I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I do know what I need to do in this season.

Please pray with me that my eyes will remain on Him over the next several months, not where I am physically.

“We fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus/Look full in His wonderful face/And the things of earth will grow strangely dim/In the light of His glory and grace” (Helen Lemmel).

“But when I fix my eyes/On all that you are/Then every doubt I feel/Deep in my heart/Grows strangely dim/All my worries fade/And fall to the ground/Cause when I seek your face/And don’t look around/Any place I’m in/Grows strangely dim” (Francesca Battistelli).

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Ultimate Relationship

Over the past few months, I’ve been praying over a potential relationship. It had been my heart’s desire to be in this particular relationship for some time, and I really thought this friend was “the one.” After all, he is on fire for Jesus, we have similar ministry goals, and we complement each other well. (Those are the top three things on “the list”).  From the outset of this desire, there have been obstacles to this relationship, yet as I prayed, I came to view them as opportunities for God to work, to grow us if this indeed was His will for us.

Throughout this prayer process, God has had one word for me, “Wait.”

I was so afraid that if I did what God asked and waited, I would be more likely to get my hopes up and be disillusioned if the answer ended up being no. Somewhere in there, God gave me the faith to wait on Him.

Still, I’ve been feeling (and have shared) that something big is heading my way.  A few weeks ago I woke up very early in the morning with the sense that I really needed to pursue a yes or no answer with God … and to be open to either alternative. So I began to pray for God to resolve the desires and feelings about this man in my heart, whether that meant fulfillment or removal. If it meant removal, I didn’t want them suppressed or rooted out. Suppression would only lead to a part of my heart blocked off that I would eventually have to go back and deal with later, and rooting these desires and feelings would leave my recently-blossoming heart barren. I guess what I really wanted was a transformation of these desires and feelings.

This past week I’ve been busy. The Enemy has been trying to distract me through attacks on my character. I’ve had to confront the lies with the truth. It’s been taxing. And several days went by when I didn’t think about this relationship at all. And when I did think about it, I felt … nothing. I thought, “Well, maybe it’s because I’ve been so busy. Maybe this doesn’t mean anything.”

But I had two really beautiful and vivid dreams and they both inspired me. I don’t usually remember my dreams, and my dreams certainly don’t inspire me. But in these two dreams I was in these gorgeous middles-of-nowhere. Wilderness places. Hiking, but mostly just talking with people on these hikes. Having good conversations, building relationships. It was so pleasant and even though there were people in these dreams I didn’t even know, and groups of people I do know who never mix, it all made sense.

I finished reading Hosea a week ago, and since then I’ve been in Exodus. In Hosea, God refers to wooing His people to wilderness places so they will seek Him and love Him. In Exodus, God brings His people to a wilderness and leads them there. Through all of this, God has been speaking to me about two things: He wants my love and He wants me to take care of His people. After the dreams, I would say God wants my love and He wants me to take care of His people in the wilderness places. To cultivate and restore life and health in barren places. It is my calling to walk with people through times of difficulty, particularly young people from broken and poverty-stricken homes.  I will walk with people through these times, I will bear their burdens before my Heavenly Father.

As I relaxed Sunday morning during church and quieted my heart to hear what God was saying about this relationship, I heard Him say, “I want something different for you.”

The miracle is, I don’t feel resentful about it. It makes complete sense.

The thing is, however much we love Christ and want to honor Him, however similar we are, however many obstacles we could have overcome with God’s help, God has given this man and I different desires, different visions. Without ever intending to, we would have held each other back. That’s not to say we wouldn’t or couldn’t have had a good life.

But I don’t just want a good life.

I want a great life. I want to be most passionate about God, to hold nothing back from Him, to have nowhere I am unwilling to go and nothing I am unwilling to do for Him. I want a husband who I can inspire to passion about God, to hold nothing back from Him, to have nowhere and nothing he is unwilling to do for Him. And I want a husband who will not only be living these things for himself, but who will rise to the challenge of calling these things out in me. And I want to call these things forth in him.

Again I am reminded, it’s not about my future husband, whoever and wherever he may be, though I certainly lift him up in prayer day by day. It’s about the ultimate relationship: the one I share with my Creator, my Redeemer, my Source. I love Him more than anything on this earth. Spending time with Him is what I crave throughout my day. That’s not to say there aren’t bumps in the road on my end, but my relationship with Him has overall changed for the better.

And I am so excited to see what He does next!

For now, though, I’m just going to relax and listen to some uplifting music.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,