Give Me a P-O-S-E-R! What’s That Spell?
By Janel Breitenstein
The summer before my freshman year of high school, I was bopping along, attempting to control acne and naturally curly/frizzy hair and pubescent weight gain. But a perfect storm of events was brewing that would shape my life.
Wish I could’ve heard the haunting soundtrack.
First, at Christian camp, I learned about Christ as servant. But my counselor wore a concerned expression across her lunch tray when I told her Jesus would be okay with being a doormat. I cited multiple misinterpreted Scripture references.
Next on the agenda that summer was cheer camp—where I was to be profoundly rejected.
And finally, when summer ended, I found myself on the wrong social side of high school.
As I labored to set the social balance (and my shame) aright, I would have told you I was making Jesus more appealing to my classmates through serving them. And part of that was true.
But I also learned people liked me better when I did what they wanted.
People-pleasing and servanthood can get inextricably tangled. Fear of people can take on an element of righteousness, self-sacrifice, even martyrdom. I like to categorize this as my sin “getting religion.”
I wish I could tell you I didn’t carry this into my marriage. For me, this might look like withholding opinions I’m afraid won’t be well received, or that might be dumb or just plain wrong.
Maybe we’re afraid a spouse won’t like us, will withhold affection—or even get angry (especially if any kind of opposition qualifies as attack in our super-sensitive minds).
We might feel bitter from the load others ask of us, or offended when our opinions aren’t sought.
But God doesn’t ask us to smother ourselves for the sake of others.
What could be lurking behind the “servanthood” in your marriage?
The good stuff: The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. (Proverbs 29:25)
Action points: Take a closer look at some of your go-to marital coping mechanisms. Could any of them be based more on fear than on trusting God? Speak honestly with each other about some of the deeper motivations behind actions that appear loving.
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