For years I was praised & rewarded for being and giving and doing anything anyone needed.
For years I stretched myself to just shy of my breaking point:
Working anything from 2-4 jobs to pay the bills
While completing my bachelors degree remotely (but still traveling back and forth to a major city for 3-4 days at a time every month)
While volunteering every other additional hour I had at our local church.
I was losing weight rapidly.
I was frequently sick.
I was anxious - and experiencing extremely painful and debilitating chest pain more and more frequently.
I angry, resentful & bitter.
On the outside I was the model church goer, basically embodying the checklist of requirements that was implicitly and explicitly given to us in exchange for what I was so desperate for: Those elusive feelings of belonging.
On the inside I was a completely different person… but a polished exterior can only get you so far for so long.
Sooner or later the mess on the inside starts to seep through the cracks, and as much as I tried to prevent that - one day mine did too.
That was when I learnt that what I was doing was far from selfless - sure, the actions checked all the boxes - but on the inside it was completely selfish, it was all about me and for me, basically exchanging labor for love, exchanging commitment for community, exchanging every fibre of my being for belonging.
My box-checking was motivated by fear - not compassion - and the more I allowed myself to be propelled forward by fear, whatever compassion was left inside me was being suffocated by comparison.
I was merciless and gracless on the inside, and I was starting to use the same standards of “never-enough” as my ruler on the people around me too.
It wasn’t until after an explosive emotional meltdown at work that I started to see the truth of who I was, and who I was becoming for what it was.
I was hustling for my worth, trespassing on the emotional property of the people around me in a desperate attempt to discover who I was, and whether or not I mattered…
Here’s what I learnt about “doing the right thing” - It's not about what it looks like outwardly, but what's going on inside. I did the right things, but for the wrong reasons. Its also not just about the actions themselves. It's also about the fruit that those actions bear. My outward “right thing to do” actions were bearing fruit of bitterness, jealousy, strife, anxiety, hopelessness, depression, gossip and illness.
We need to be so careful of what we call faithful. Good. Christian. Are we talking just about behaviors or about the orientation of our hearts? My good, faithful, Christian actions were putting men on a pedestal and my own belonging was my god. The beliefs that were driving my actions were completely devoid of love, faith, trust. I believed that I had to earn my place in the world, in my church and in heaven - I was completely engulfed in the quest for self-righteousness - I was far from grace. In fact, I looked down on grace, was repulsed by it even. How dare I or anyone for that matter rest in the truth that they are loved as they are, and that in Christ, they are enough - that whoever and whatever they bring to the table - in whatever condition - is all they are expected to bring.
My choice was simple - continue on the familiar path I was on, journeying on toward a lifetime of brokenness and dysfunction driven by fear… or choose a new one, completely uncharted, armed only with faith and the hope that on that new road toward wholeness, I would not be alone, and that there was indeed a person of value worth discovering out there. I would need a completely new set of navigation tools, deeply held beliefs, and as it turns out - new traveling companions out there, but my options were basically new and scary - or death.
I chose new.
If you would like to hear more about my story, and the tools/skills & wisdom I discovered and nurtured on my journey as a recovering people-pleaser - why don’t you sign up to receive the introduction and prologue of my new book, “The Hearted-Centered Woman’s Guide to Healthy Boundaries” - you can do that HERE.