Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sticks and Stones and Grace

*This is my first time ever doing 2 posts in one day but this one has been burning a hole in my pocket, so to speak, so thanks for indulging me!*
If you ask me, whoever said "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" was just saying that to put up a good front. Words hurt...being disliked hurts...someone looking you up and down with a sour expression hurts...and can make you feel really insecure! Sometimes its subtle, so subtle that you would have a hard time describing it to someone else.

That glance, that turning of the back, that exclusion.
Somehow I fooled myself into believing that by the time I had reached my mid-30's all of this would be behind me.
I'm so glad that no one told me this when I was a teenager, because the hope of it all going away as an adult was the only thing that kept me going!

I have made many confessions to you before...
"I'm not Crafty."
"I clean my baseboards with my socks."
"I cry when I hear Perry Como singing
Oh There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays".
Wait...you didn't know that one? Well, you do now! I even own the original Record, still in its jacket, that my mom listened to when she was a young girl.

Oh, and, here is another one for you...
"I'm a Recovering People Pleaser!"

We're talking in a MAJOR way. This is the kind of people pleasing that keeps you awake at night analyzing conversations, replaying them in your head to make sure you didn't say anything wrong, or offensive, or should you have said anything at all??

You know what happens when a Major People Pleaser finds herself in situations where someone doesn't like her, want to be her friend, or intentionally sets out to hurt her?
She agonizes!!! How can that be? What have I done?
This is unfair! I'm BIG into fairness!
And, you know what else she does?
She tries HARDER! And harder...and harder.
And you know where that gets her?
Tired! Burned out! Perhaps even Bitter?
I have recently been on a journey towards healing this addiction to Pleasing. It has been a long and painful road with many a time on my knees praying...for myself...for others...for myself.
I have always found it amazing that it is virtually impossible to feel anger towards someone and pray for them at the same time.
It's like the Praying cuts through the anger and takes you to a new level of understanding and compassion.
And, I've also found it interesting, and frankly sometimes annoying, that when I go to God with these hurts and disappointments that He ends up revealing to me the darkness in my own heart. It is awfully easy to slip into a place of pride when you feel so valid in your hurt feelings!

So, I'm finally telling myself, STOP! Stop trying so hard! Stop pursuing!
Just stop it!
But, here is the dilemma for me...where does "Grace" come in?
Ahhh...what do we do about the grace and love we are supposed to show others. And so, the trap has been set.
Grace means that I MUST keep trying, right?
Especially when well-meaning people tell you that if you just keep trying, maybe "Someday" things will be better.
I'm the proverbial hampster on the wheel. Round and round I go.


I recently read a post written by Emily over at
Chatting at the Sky. She is doing a series on Grace, what it is, and in this particular post, what it is NOT.
Here is a little snippet.

"Grace is Not...
Subjecting yourself to the same rejection by the same people over and over no matter what.
Putting yourself or your family members in emotional danger because of someone who is unsafe.
Something you can manufacture by the grit of your own strength.
Hands folded polite, nodding in the midst of injustice.

Oh, that last one really got me!

Here is a little bit more of what she says...
"But there are other times when the grace-showing feels tricky. There may be a person or people in your life to whom you have shown grace and from whom grace has not been returned. Over and over again. Or even worse, you have been hurt by them in big ways, causing deep wounds and the need for soul-healing. Showing grace towards them does not necessarily mean you are to remain quiet and continue to pursue them and to allow the rejection to go on and on. Instead, showing grace means releasing them of the responsibility to meet your needs-perhaps your need to be loved, to be understood, to be right, to be safe-it may mean you are to continue to pursue that person. But, it may not."(To read more of this wonderful series on Grace, visit Emily's blog, Chatting at the Sky.)

Sweet Freedom!
The grace that I can give someone else,
the grace that I can give myself and
the Grace that I receive from my Heavenly Father when I don't deserve it at all!
Grace that isn't about being a doormat for someone to continually wipe their feet on.
Grace that is about loving as He first loved me.
Grace that is about releasing them to do anything or be anything for me.
Grace that finds my heart at rest in this new-found understanding. Oh, don't get me wrong, I fall off the wagon all the time. My feelings get hurt again, I wonder what on Earth I could have done to deserve this treatment. And yet, the peace and forgiveness comes more quickly and easily each time.

Understanding True Grace means that I can give away True Grace to others.

"And God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

From this Southern Girl at Heart,


Lisa ~Suburban Retreat~ said...

Wow ... that is quite a post! I am not like you at all ~ a People Pleaser ~ but I know so many who are. My world is not too large so those in my circle are given appropriate love and attention and respect. Those outside my circle are also given respect first but if in return I'm treated poorly in any manner ... I am not affected by this. As a matter of fact ~ I will no longer put any more of my precious time into them! Your post is so refreshing and reinforces the fact that there is always something more to work on within ourselves. We never stop learning, do we? Enjoy your journey and know this ~ YOU ARE FABULOUS JUST THE WAY YOU ARE! Hugs.

Courtney ~ French Country Cottage said...

Hey there Vanessa, oh here we go again!!! Kindred spirits you and I!! I have to admit I am a proverbial people pleaser to the point of my own detriment ... I hear you big time and am finding the closer I get to the big 4-0 the crankier and less tolerant of ME being squashed and hurt and ...etc. I am. Glad you are finding your way to knowing just how great you are!! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh Vanessa, honey. I understand. Completely. I, too, am a people pleaser and I'm trying so hard to Just Say No!! There are situations right now that I am struggling with because I hate being taken advantage of, that wouldn't happen if I Just Said No! I hate being the "one" that listens to every gripe and complaint, yet never gets a thing from that relationship other than stood up but do I Just Say No??? Yes, the people pleaser in me really needs to just bite the bullet and go into rehab. A real friend gives as well as takes and I need to remind myself of that.

You hit the nail on the head with this post and I thank you for it. I'll let you know how the Just Saying No works out....I don't know what I'm so afraid of. Hubby says I just want everyone to like me....grrr...I hate it when he's right. :)

Rehab for people pleasers? Sign me up.

Christy said...

I love you Vanessa!!
I so totally understand, we could talk for hours about this. You are such a wonderful friend to have and I am thankful that God has brought you into my life.
Thank you for sharing the struggles of your heart and being transparent when in blogland it is so easy to be fake!

NanaDiana said...

I have walked a thousand miles in your shoes. I no longer jump through hoops to please others--but because of who I used to be I find that I have a kindness in me that a lot of people lack. Those who NEVER try to please others are sometimes quite selfishly unaware of what is going on around them...what needs are NOT being met...WHO needs a hand. You are who you are for a reason, my dear girl. Perhaps you give a bit too much of yourself to others but YOU are the one that reaps those rewards. If you never tried to please anyone you would feel like you were betraying who you are. I know that other people can hurt you..but that is because you are vulnerable and trusting. You are not at fault..the one at fault is the one that uses and abuses your vulnerablity and your trust. You keep praying..pray for those that never feel the need to please someone else. I feel like we are all intended to be servants to others on some level. Some of us just become doormats instead of serving...and that is where the fault lies. Hang in there, sweetie...life is a long time and you are learning great lessons as you go. There is grace around us in the littlest action...and I think it is safe to say that you are a person filled with Grace. Hugs-Diana

Karen said...

The ONE you mentioned demonstrates to us the truest picture of grace. We deserved death and He gave us life. vs. 3 of Amazing Grace reminds us of all those toils, snares (those things you mentioned that hurt)grace has brought us safe (through those) and grace will lead us home. Only through the Lord Jesus Christ can we demonstrate the grace that needs to be given.
~Hugs from the girl in the deep south~

Jane said...

Cyber hugs coming your way. Remember, when people show you who they are, believe them!


Sonya@Beyond the Screen Door said...

Thank you, Vanessa, for opening your heart and sharing this with us. I wouldn't say I have struggled with being a people pleaser. My struggle over the years has been avoiding issues because I didn't want a confrontation. I have learned that sometimes when injustices occur you have to step beyond your comfort zone and face them. Not an easy thing to do.
BTW...LOVE LOVE LOVE that you clean the baseboards with your socks! I swept an area on my floor, just today, with my foot! (Can't believe I just told you that!)

Judy said...

Very powerful post.

Christie said...

Oh, Vanessa! I just can't imagine anyone being mean to you or not liking you! You are so sweet and shine a huge bright light for the Lord! I can only imagine people wanting to be right next to you! Well, that is how this friend from a million miles a way feels! I was doing some research not too long ago about 'simplifying your life' and one of the suggestions was to say "no" more than "yes." I have put this into motion and it works! Another thing I have learned, is that when I feel insecure with life, relationships, myself, etc...I say out loud, "my identity is in Christ, not in ...." I say it over and over and it always redirects my thoughts! I loved 'seeing' your heart in this post...it is, afterall, one of the beautiful things about you...your authenticity...don't ever let anyone take that away! I will reflect on this post and 'grace' as I go to sleep...thank you for sharing! On a side note...I do not know how I missed your post on your children and the struggles you endured...also, a lesson in God's grace! I found an article with some beautiful thougts and then misplaced it...will find again and follow up! Loved your heart and knowing more of your story! I was very blessed by it! Christie

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Hi Vanessa, When I was younger I also was a people pleaser and my feeling were hurt easily. Over the years I have learned to shed people from my life that cause me stress and aggravation. I have narrowed down my list of friends and family that I let into my life. This has made me a much happier and content person. You are such a sweetheart and have such a good heart. I would say you are full of grace.
xoxo, Sherry

Ashley said...

Oh you have no idea how bad I needed to read this post! I am a people pleaser too. I am terrible about over-analyzing every little thing and wondering what I've done wrong. I've sat up many nights rehashing every word in conversations I've had to recall if I said something offensive. There is person I have never been able to please, but I never thought of releasing her. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by people who WANT to love me and meet my needs. And yet I spend so much effort and worry trying to win the heart of the one person who doesn't. I can only imagine the freedom that must come from releasing them completely from meeting any needs and expectations. Thank you for sharing this! I hope you find peace in the freedom!

Heather@Gourmet Meals for Less said...

From one people pleaser to another...who both were raised together by a people pleaser...I feel your freedom through grace. I love you.

Your sister

Debbie said...

Hello Mirror.

I could have written every single word. In fact... brace yourself... I cry when I hear Perry Como sing that same song. Yep.

I have this same disease to please. I love your analogy of the hamster on the wheel because that's EXACTLY how I feel at times.

And after 48 years, I'm STILL surprised when the person to whom I've been trying to be nothing but nice doesn't return the love.

I just love SO MANY THINGS about this post...

*The way you describe the "grown up way" that folks (women, particularly) hurt each other, often with body language or those snide little "digs".

*The way you said it was supposed to "go away" after high school, but it never does. So true.

*The way you describe lying there reliving and rethinking an encounter after it's been said and done. Do that one too. It usually makes me cry even harder than a Perry Como song.

My favorite part of all, though, is THIS:

Grace is Not...
Subjecting yourself to the same rejection by the same people over and over no matter what.
Putting yourself or your family members in emotional danger because of someone who is unsafe.

I just addressed this exact thought to my husband over the phone yesterday about a particularly toxic situation.

I'm so glad you hit "publish" on this one!

Debbie said...

Sorry that was so long. This post just rang my bell.

Melanie said...

Very good post! I was always the one doing things in our (extended) family and one day I woke up and decided that I wasn't going to do it anymore. I would do it only IF I wanted to. I don't want to FEEL obligated to do it. I want to do it if I want to.

That came to me around the age of 40:)

Pam @ diy Design Fanatic said...

If you were in front of me right now I'd give you a big hug! I am not a people pleaser, but I still suffer from feelings of inadequacy -a lot. My house isn't clean enough, I don't get my nails and hair done, I should be 20 pounds lighter, my lawn has weeds in it and I don't drive an expensive car! Oh well! Don't let others define your worth because you know the One who does. If someone looks their nose down on you it's their problem, not yours. Most likely that person is not happy at home or with themselves and they are living by some ridiculous made up rules for life.

Ann Nichols said...

Bless you, dear Lady! As all the comments above show you really hit a cord with this one... You are so right, prayer is the answer. Prayer and studying God's word and - something I only learned during the last 10 years - studying the lives of all those amazing people of Christian faith throughout time who have struggled with exactly the same issues. As you know, I have been researching and writing about St. Nicholas for many years. He struggled with these issues and so many more and was victorious; so much so that his love for God positively influenced lives while he lived and so many others afterwards during the last 1700 years! I always like to consider how many people such as St. Nicholas are "out there" today? This posting and the comments written show there are many more than what we really know!
Blessings and keep on a keeping on...that's what the Christian life is all about!

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

Great though provoking post, Vanessa. I have learned to pray for the Lord to take my burdens away. Let Him take it and carry it away. Sometimes it can happen quickly and sometimes not. We are here to go through trials and tribulations, but we find comfort just knowing he is there to carry us through. We are human and have human emotions that we must bear.

michelle said...

I am very much like you my friend. Since I was a child I have always been a people pleaser. My goal in life was to put others first. Over the years, as I kept on my same path I think that I became bitter, especialy when my feelings got hurt over and over again. It is an aweful feeling and I hit a breaking point when my then best friend hurt myself and my family deeply. I ended it, no communication, no closure, just done. I was angry, hurt, confused and bitter. It has been about 6 years now and I have not talked to her, in fact I have ignored apology attempts because I did not trust her or myself. It is sad actually. I turned to God for forgiveness. I am slowly learning what Grace is and is not and I am so glad that you posted this. I know that I made the right decision by ending the relationship and releasing her and myself from the toxic relationship that it had become but I always think that I could have done it a better way. You are not alone, and I hope that you can come through this journey knowing that you are a wonderful person who is full of grace, compassion and understanding and that is nothing to be ashamed of. If people do not welcome that gift then you move on, perhaps gracefully. :)

Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

I always think that personality traits always have a flip-side. So, sure, people-pleaser is one side of the coin but 'lovely, sensitive and thoughtful' is the other.

I hardly know you at all, really, but, let me tell you missus, you stand out a MILE! Even from all the way over here.

I like the way you are. A LOT!

I'm just sad it's making you sad.


Becca said...

Girrrrl ... what a powerful post !! YOU are awesome !! Just remember, if a person treats you poorly, it is a true reflection of how they feel about themself. And, also, if they don't reciprocate your kindness, truly they are jealous of you (your kindness, your talents, your everything) !! Big ol' hugs to you !! *Becca* xoxo

Lori said...

Vanessa, Thank you so much for talking about something that most people don't want to. I am a people pleaser like you but as I get older it's getting easier to say no! I have had so many friendships where I was doing all the giving but not receiving much in return. I am not friends with any of them any more and one is my next door neighbor!! I just decided that it wasn't what I needed so I ended the friendship (she still lives right next door!) I'm 42 years old and if someone doesn't like me (for whatever reason) then oh well, that's their problem. I'm not saying it doesn't hurt when someone snubs me or doesn't accept me for who I am. It does still bother me but I know it's their problem and not mine.
I've never met you but I can tell you are such a kind and giving person. Anyone would be lucky to have you as a friend.
I also want to say that I love your blog so much! Your home is so beautiful and I especially love your master bedroom & bathroom!
Hang in there, it does get easier!! : )

Thrifty Decor Mom

Teri said...

Hi Vanessa,

I was planning on sharing some of my thoughts and struggles. But, the bottom line is no one says it better than God! May you find strength and peace in His precious Word.

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Colossians 3:1-4

"Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:12-17


Bonnie@Creative Decorating said...

Sometimes I think we are both cut from the same mold...I am this way, too. When you spoke of agonizing at night about something that was said, it hit me. I do that and didn't know why I do that. I can worry and play out a million scenarios in my head which does nothing but make me live feelings about things that haven't even happened. I have tried to stop but the only way so far is that I have removed myself from most people. That isn't going to work. I want everyone to like me but I hurt when they do things that I perceive are against me. It is crazy!! Grace...I need it. I know that God gives it to me for free. I need to give it as well. So, I keep trying and hope that people will see the new me and eventually forget the old me.

Sorry for rambling...thank you for stopping by after my long break from blogging! I have missed everyone terribly!

Modern Country Lady said...

Vanessa, do not doubt yourself for one minute -you are such a kind and warm and loving person, and so supportive to people around you - like I know from experience as a newcomer to blog world.Always remember, God loves you- and He loves you exactly as you are. A big hug from far away.

Sailing Simply said...

Wow! Vanessa, no I did not see this post yet, I've been too busy brooding over my insults. LOL! I am so glad you mentioned it or I may have missed it. Very thought provoking! Here I was thinking I was over this people pleasing stuff only to find out maybe not entirely! Old habits die hard. I still want people to like me, but nearly as much as I want true authentic friends, these days. I can tell you are one of those types! I have learned to release many non-reciprocating friends from my life and that can leave you very lonely. Then there are those who you cannot or do not want to release such as family. I really like Becca's comment here, I think she is dead on, that's something I have to remind myself of often. That often the dislike is coming from something within "that" person. Thanks for the reminder to focus more on getting on my knees and asking God to fix this situation best, not us!

Deborah said...

this post is SO honest and heart-felt.
Thank you so much for just being you...a very beautiful person.
You've uncovered a sensitive issue
that I believe alot of women can so relate to.
In fact, Vanessa this very thing was on my heart this morning.
I struggle with some of those same thoughts and they can be heart-breaking.
But most of all, we can rest in the assurance of how much God loves us, and He knows and sees the love in your heart and the kndness there and the love you pour out on others.
God loves your tender heart my friend.

Blessings on your day...

Deborah xo

emily freeman said...

I'm so glad you linked this up, b/c I don't think I saw it the first time. I have struggled through this grace journey in this exact situation as well - and the people pleasing trap always is a difficult one.

So glad those words meant something to you - there is much to be said about step by step trust, and knowing the Lord is big enough to move me towards others or also, to protect me from them.