Twenty-four hours ago I had no idea I would be writing this post. Yet, at the start of this month, I was aware that it had been a year since I had written a blog post on a consistent basis. And maybe my small hope that a topic would reveal itself to me was in fact a silent prayer. Let's get to it!
In order to understand this spiritual breakthrough (for lack of a better term), you must know that for the better part of a year now, I have dipped my feet into the dating pool. Yes, the chilly, murky, swampy dating pool of 2022! And though its been murky it's also been exciting and new. If you recall. two years back I wrote this post. So at the very least, meeting new people and engaging in good conversations has been fun for me.
During this time, the best advice I recieved from a good freind of mine was to keep a journal. Document everything! Again..BEST. ADVICE. EVER. I have gone back to read my journal once since I began, just to compare my negative and positive emotions. What I value most in those journals pages, is my honesty about what I felt and behavior patterns I noticed in myself and in my "friends."
However, in the last three to four months I have found myself writing less and less or neglecting to write altogether.
At the start of my journaling, I was writing almost every day or several times a week. And I was praying just as much. I prayed from a place of uncertainty with total trust in God. Overall, I wanted to be sure that God was included in every decision I made. Every question I asked. Every action I took.
But lately, just like my journaling, my prayer life has slowed down. I only find myself having small talk with God about misplaced items and saying a quick "Thank you Jesus," when the location of said item is revealed to me.
The truth is I was avoiding God. I was ashamed of having allowed myself to be distracted and enticed by the attention of men. Y'all, I was out here feeling like Ludacris and Nate Dogg in '01 #IYKYK Its not like I had a whole roster of men, but it felt good to be admired. Attention is a helluvah drug! But attention does not equate to love. So what happens when you get accustomed to so much attention only to have it taken away from you?
You start feeling like Janet Jackson, that's what happens!
Unlike Mrs. Jackson, I refused to write a sad love song. I sulked for a little bit, got out the house, stress ate, took a nap....etc. But all these were just added distractions. Before I could plop myself on the couch to start season two of Indian Matchmaking, something inside me said be still. Something? More like the Holy Spirit.
I sat at my desk and listened to my prayer playlist. Two songs in and the tears started rolling and the sentence, "I'm lonely" eventually fell from my lips. And I apologized to God for turning away from Him.
About an hour later, I asked God over a bowl of Captain Crunch, "How do I stop expecting God from people?" Because God is the truest remedy for loneliness, *cough* not a man. *cough*
Immediately, by the spirit, I heard: "Stop caring what people think; stop people pleasing."
I could've flipped that bowl of cereal over! One, because I hadn't heard a quick response from God like that in awhile. I'm sure he was speaking to me, but my own thoughts were too loud to hear Him. Two, because I thought I had already overcome people pleasing the first time I wrote about it on this very blog. The lie detector test determined THAT WAS A LIE.
God reminded me of the recent ways I had put the pleasure of men over pleasing Him. I was so focused on dating and being busy, that I wasn't asking God if He was pleased with who I was spending time with or how the time was being spent. And in the end I was worse off. Worse, because I was doing things I thought would "secure the boyfriend" (yes, I just made that up) when I should've been securing my relationship with God. Not avoiding Him!
All while I was cheesing at my phone, rushing home from work to rush back out, and subtly thirst trapping on "The Gram," God was gently asking for my affection. He reminded me of the powerful image I was given three years ago: While I sat praying on my bed, He sat at the foot of my bed longing to hear my heart. Every joy and pain he wanted all of it. And still does!
This doesn't mean that I should stop dating. Instead, I means setting more boundaries in dating and communicationg better about my goals and intentions. Also, not giving away all my free time, but rather spending some time dating myself too. Cause I'm worth it! #Period.
At the root of my people pleasing, which I mentioned in the initial post, is the desire to be liked and the fear of conflict. If I agree with others then they will like me, and there will be no clashing. If they like me, then they won't reject me. If we don't fight, then ther is no discord.
But apparently, no matter how well you are liked, when its someone's time to leave your life its better to let them go. AND apparently, not all conflict is negative. In fact, through conflict understanding can take place therefore building a stronger bond. Who knew!?
The two books that helped me to dig deeper and break this down are "The Disease to Please" by Harriet B. Braiker, Ph.D and "Set Boundaries, Find Peace" by Nedrea Glover Tawwab. Although I now know these things, applying them is the difficult part. Because its much easier to fall back into old patterns. BUT this is where recommiting to prayer and journaling can be used to a great advantage!
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
For old times sake, one of my favorite songs from my prayer playlist and another song that just fits this topic below!
Is God pleased?