I Care Too Much about What You Think

Good afternoon from Westminster, MD!

I have a problem. Truth be told, I have many problems, but that probably comes as no surprise to you. In the midst of my many issues, one stands out above the rest at the moment–I care way too much about what you think.

I know, this is probably a strange admission for a blog post given the point of writing a blog is for other people to read it. Isn’t that kind of the point? To have other people like what you write. To some degree, sure. However, I care way too much about whether or not you like it. Whether or not some likes what I write or say holds way too much power over me if I am honest. If I am completely honest, it is because I care way too much about whether or not you, or anyone else, likes me. Do they see me as likeable? Do they think I matter? Do they want to be my friend? Do they see me as valuable?

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be liked. The truth is relationships are important. I do not think it is a great idea to make it our goal to have everyone dislike us. Ultimately, it is a really a question of how much weight the opinions of others holds in our lives. In my case, the answer is way too much. I sometimes find myself valuing someone’s opinion of me more than the degree to which I am true to myself and my beliefs. While this might produce some short-term joy it leads to long-term emptiness.

Why is this such a big deal? It’s not, I guess, if you are fine with living a less than full life. You see, I have come to realize living for the opinion and pleasure of others leads to a life of captivity. Instead of being free to fully be the person I was created to be, I mute myself at best or pretend to be someone else at worst, all in the service of being liked by others. In doing so, I give the keys to my life over to the people whose opinions matters the most to me. Ironically, in most cases these people have no desire to hold me captive to their opinions, putting unfair expectations on them. I have quite literally put the handcuffs on myself.

This is not the life for which we were designed. We were created for freedom.

How do we get there? For me it starts with changing the object of my affection and my formula for achieving a full life. Proverbs, the book of the Bible referred to as the “Book of Wisdom” says, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” (Proverbs 29:25 MSG) We care about the opinions of others because that is the way we were designed. The problem is we put the wrong opinions in the position of power. We were only designed to live for the opinion of One–the God who Created us and desires the best for us. When we make his opinion of us the object of our affection, we begin to see the full life for which we were created.

This leads to a change in perspective on the formula for a full life. A full life is a life full of freedom. A life full of freedom means fully being the person God created you to be. The challenge is living this way stands juxtaposed to living for the opinions of others. If we are true to the person God created us to be it is almost certain to run contrary to the opinions of someone in our life. This means elevating a life of freedom and congruency above a life of being loved by others. It means choosing to be loved for who you truly are instead of who others want you to be.

This is my desire. No offense, but I want to care less about what you think and more about who I was created to be. In the end, I think we will both find ourselves more free.

James Belt

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