Do you ever worry about what others think about you? I know that I do. In fact, it seems that I am almost constantly concerned with how people in my life view me. I want my professors to think of me as a good student, my classmates to see me as helpful and intelligent, my friends to see me as kind and respectable, and my church family to think of me as selfless and loving. Over the years, I have realized that trying to keep up an image can be exhausting. Because humans are often unpredictable, greedy, and stubborn, It is impossible to please everyone, and trying to do so only causes burnout, anxiety, and frustration. Even though I recognize this, it is still very difficult for me to be completely at peace with myself when I am around others. The only thing that seems to lessen my worries is knowing what God thinks about me.
God wants to free us from the struggle to please other humans because He knows that worrying about what others think will only take away our joy. Instead, He calls us to please Him. This may sound even more challenging than pleasing man. I mean, how can small, sinful human beings like us possibly satisfy the perfect Creator and Ruler of the universe? However, while it is hopeless to try pleasing God with our own actions, He graciously offers us a way to do so through His only son, who took our sins upon Himself, died on the cross, and rose again so that we might be made blameless and righteous in His eyes. Because of Jesus, we only need to have faith in order to made holy and acceptable for God. I find rest in knowing that I actually please God and that He views me as His beloved, sacred child. In other words, I no longer feel such a strong need to please man and can take a deep breath, relax, and be myself around others because the King of the universe, whose opinion is much greater than that of any human, loves and accepts me unconditionally. What a blessing this is!
Unfortunately, it is very difficult for me to remember what God thinks about me. Whenever I am in a social situation, God’s viewpoint hardly ever crosses my mind because I am unable to physically see or touch Him. On the other hand, the people with whom I am interacting are right before my eyes, filling my senses and thus filling my mind. I constantly need to remind myself that the Lord is present in every interaction that I have with others. He accepts me as I am, even when those around me do not. In addition to often forgetting about what God thinks about me, I also struggle with simply believing it. I am very aware of my sins and shortcomings, and therefore, I do not feel “white as snow.” Instead, I sometimes feel the exact opposite: shameful and guilty. It is difficult for me to see how God can forgive me completely and think of me as blameless when I can’t do so myself. To help me with this, I need to fully grasp the meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice for me. He defeated sin and death. And when I understand that, my own sins have much less power over my life and my self-image.
When I rest in what God thinks about me I not only feel less pressured to please others, but I also feel a greater desire to please God by doing more than simply having faith. In other words, even though I am acceptable to God by just believing in His son, I strive to please Him even more with my lifestyle and actions because He has shown such grace in His view of me. The Scriptures mention many ways to do this. For example, Hebrews 13:15-16 states that God is pleased when we continually praise Him, do good, and share with those in need. Other verses instruct us to fear God, hope in His mercy, obey Him, and offer our bodies and lives to Him as a sacrifice. These tasks may be difficult, but they are also life-giving. I challenge you to find peace in what God thinks about you and to try pleasing Him more, instead of hopelessly trying to please man. I can assure you that by doing this, your life will be filled with more joy and much less anxiety.