For many years I've felt like I had to run around proving to everyone that I'm a good person. This is so exhausting!! I won't get into the nitty-gritty of where this stems from but I have had relationships where I felt like the other person is only there just to see me fall with a quick "I told you so" rather than a "what can I do to help you get back up?" The true, genuine, and meaningful relationships in my life see my value and these people work to lift me up, rather than tear me down. Feeling the need to prove yourself all the time can bring on a constant state of being defensive. When you're defensive, you're always ready to fight. Walking around with gloves on means you're using all your energy for a battle you will never ever win. Anyone that treats you like YOU have to prove something all the time is someone that hasn't found their own value and worth. These are the people that feel like if they can make the point that everyone around them doesn't seem to have their "sh-tuff" together, it somehow elevates them to a higher level. I know I'm not perfect, and I know not everyone is going to like me, but I've gotten pretty good at discerning when someone doesn't treat me well because of their own issues, not mine. My husband has really helped me with this. He knows I can't stand when someone treats me like they don't like me for what I see is no good reason. He has the "who cares!" attitude followed by "it's their problem, not yours".Listen, no one is perfect and I'm not suggesting you have to be friends with the world. People in your life fall into two categories; people you choose to have in your life and people that are in your life not by choice. The people you get to choose to have in your life should lift you up and see your value. These are the people that lovingly point out a better way of doing something and offer guidance with a tone of seeing your worth. This doesn't mean they tell you what you want to hear, but rather telling you what you need to hear in a way that doesn't tear you down. These are the people that don't say mean things about you behind your back. If you get a choice about who you can keep close to you, it's about quality not quantity. The older I get, the more I feel okay about being selective with whom I choose to have in my life.Then there are the people that are in your life not by choice. These are the people God puts in your life for a very different reason. The not-by-choice people are the ones you will struggle with the most. Struggle always brings about growth if you allow it. These are also the people that you will have to delicately determine the appropriate balance of boundaries and grace. These are the people I complain about to my husband the most, because being the little "middle-child/peace-maker" that I am, I just want everyone to get along...which is also another way of saying "I want everyone to like me." I have had to realize I'm not strong enough or important enough to control the way these people feel.I've been blessed with in-laws that I would choose if I could. This isn't always the case though.
Here's some advice straight from Focus on the Family (here) regarding boundaries:Draw appropriate boundaries. Family conflict often involves blurred boundaries—a young man marries but fails to “leave his parents and cleave to his wife,” an adult child moves away from home but constantly calls home for money, an adult daughter leaves her three children with her mother daily, even though her mother has asked her not to. Appropriate boundaries are biblical and enable you to set limits while still loving the other person.Drawing these boundaries might mean you have to care less about what someone is going to think about you. It's impossible to go around making every single person happy all the time. I've often attributed caring less and less about what people think to getting older. I actually think it's less about getting older and more to do with my relationship with God. He is the best gage of whether something is important or not. I had quite the heart to heart with our eldest last night as he's experiencing some of those normal pre-teen feelings of not being what society views as important at this age. In my advice to him (and I realize how I need to apply it to my own life) was "listen buddy, being a phenomenal baseball player would be really cool and a lot of people would recognize that, but I believe God uses a skill like being a star baseball player for His good. No matter what you do in life, you're best served to glorify His will. For some people, God gave them the tools to be good at baseball. For others, He gives different skills. Listening to His will for your life is no less important no matter what your talent happens to be." Of course I went on to tell him all the things I see in him that are truly important but I won't put you through that obnoxious mom moment.
So next time you're wondering how something looks, take a minute to think more about how it feels. God cares about your heart.
Philippians 2:13for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.