A Zen Experience, Seeing the Depth of My Fear of Man, and How People Pleasing Destroys Our Lives

Roxanne asked me to sit down in the chair and make myself comfortable. I explained that this was my first manicure and pedicure. Yeah, I know. I was brought up to think some things were done only by “certain” women and I wasn’t one of those women. I was tough, and got things done. I wasn’t a weak woman, and to do things like this meant I was weak.

She proceeded to treat me with kindness and care. I allowed myself to be pampered. Now place your foot in here, and wrap yourself with one of our blankets to keep warm. Can I adjust the water temperature for you? I blushed. I had never been treated with such care. I wasn’t allowed. I was strong. I needed to take care of things, but now I realized I didn’t want to. I wanted to be taken care of.

She left me alone to enjoy my zen experience. My feet soaking in a foot bath, soft music playing overhead, and enjoying a room filled with marble, and beautiful decor. It was during these few moments that I realized that I had been living someone’s else’s life. Not mine. I like this. I do. Me. I suddenly began to question everything.

Perhaps this is why my dad couldn’t be himself at home all those years. Perhaps it’s why he eventually left. If I am not allowed to be me, to get manicures, color my hair, and an array of other things that make me me, then what was dad not allowed to do.

Of course we can do what we please, but in our people pleasing state of minds we think we can’t because we would never hear a single word of encouragement, a compliment for nice nails and pretty hair. Eyes would roll, and we would hear “this isn’t what people like us do.”

Is my entire life a sham?

What other areas of my life are concoctions of someone’s idea of what I should do and be?

On the way home last night I told my daughter that I loved that experience, and am sad I didn’t have it earlier. Perhaps I should make a list of everything I think I don’t like and do that this year. Perhaps what I think I don’t like isn’t really my own opinion, but someone else’s opinion.

In that room I saw an opportunity for a new life. A life where I say this is what I like, and this is what I want to do. You are welcome to be a part of it, and if you can’t that’s okay. I don’t need your approval, but I do need to live.

I have been dying for a long time. Miserable because I have followed your way of doing church, your doctrine, your idea of success, your way of enjoying life, your way of ministry, your way of thinking, your way of determining what gives me joy.

Even in my pursuit of trying find joy only in God I lost the practical enjoyment of life. In the context of pursuing God, serving and obeying Christ, doesn’t God mean for us to enjoy life? Is it not okay to enjoy a nice run, a nice glass of wine, a fancy manicure, and a trip to a used book store, or am I meant to continue a stoic monastic life of study and solitude?

Am I only meant to enjoy what you enjoy?

I don’t blame you. I blame me. I had no idea how much of a people pleaser I have been. My marriage has hurt because of it. My life has been empty for it. I am have been on the brink of quitting life because I am miserable trying to live yours.

In 2017.

Every year God has given me a clear theme for the next year. This year it’s about seeing what He has for me, and not you. It’s about taking a simple and quiet stand for the woman that I am. I like doing….. I want to….. I don’t want to….. That doesn’t fit into my life……

It’s about learning to enjoy life again. It’s about learning what I enjoy and doing it. Not in a sinful way, or in a way that puts the things of the world over God, but in a way that embraces the blessings that God has given me. If He is pleased then that is all that matters. Right?

Let’s be honest. Even under the realm of our relationship with God we can become lost and wondering. We may be living someone else life, and we may find that doing so doesn’t lead to a good place. Before we get to that bad place let’s take some time to access where we are, and why we are there.

We are to follow God’s plan for our life, not peoples. Let’s be about figuring out what He has in store. Let’s be about living as He made us to be.

Marcy Pedersen

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