I am a people pleaser. I admit it. I own it and I have finally begun to embrace it. It appears that most people who use labels, label folks as people pleasers as a back handed compliment or a put down but I’ve come to see the flip side of people pleasing now that I’m grown and all of my bills are paid. I used to endeavor to please all of the people, all of the time. I would want to hold on to the folks until my point was sufficiently made and everyone got what I was talking about and everyone fell in love with me and were all in line on the Sterling train…but now through my mature eyes, I understand that everyone is not going to buy what I’m selling, everyone is not going to eat what I’m cooking and everyone is not going to value what I value so I have evolved into a selective people pleaser. Now, I have the wonderful privilege of pleasing the people that please me. I’m good to everyone. I speak to everyone. I answer everyone’s call and everyone’s text and everyone’s inboxed message but I don’t aim to please everyone, I just aim to answer everyone…and here’s why…
I please the people that I want, when I want and the way that I want because God delivered me from an abusive relationship.
A relationship where they would call me with foolishness even when they knew I’d be sleeping.
A relationship where my health and well-being was placed at risk because of their own questionable choices.
A relationship where my voice was not heard, appreciated or respected.
A relationship where random, frequent, persistent dirty looks far greater than any curse word would be sent in my direction at any given time.
A relationship where genuine apologies only existed from me to them…respect was a one way street.
A relationship where I would walk away from conversations wondering why everyone else thinks I’m great except this person that I happen to be stuck in this relationship with.
A relationship where my time was not valued, their word was not honored and mutual respect did not exist.
God delivered me from an abusive relationship. My relationship was an abusive business relationship.
I never had the abusive physical relationship where:
Your body was a toy instead of a temple.
Your face was a slapping stick instead of a shrine.
Your feelings were tampered with instead of treasured.
Your loyalty was compromised instead of celebrated.
Your feelings were hurt instead of honored.
You spent more time being threatened than being treated, more time being scared than being satisfied and more time in the make up position than in the make it right position.
I’ve only found myself in abusive business relationships but I’ve advised and counselled those in abusive physical relationships and I for one am glad that my Mother told me a long time ago when I was in college to “never treat my wife like she’s a prostitute.”
I don’t remember how I entered the abusive business relationship but I remember clearly how I exited it. I was summoned to the office at the same time for the same reason and I knew full well that the 3:00 meeting wouldn’t start until 6 and I’d be frustrated and fuming because I’m a stickler for time and the same high levels of disrespect were shown, the same condescending tone was present, the same arrogance, the same nastiness and the same senseless mess. I kept my head down, answered all questions, fulfilled all obligations and went home. When my phone rung the next time, I interrupted my tormentor with two letters. Two letters flipped the script and saved my sanity. Two letters allowed my chains to fly off. Two letters were my Shawshank Redemption. Two letters gave me my free.
No, I can’t.
No, I won’t.
No, I’m not free.
No, I’m not able.
No, I'm sick of this.
No, I’m not interested.
No, I have feelings too.
No, I will not be marginalized.
No, I deserve better and I demand better.
No, you will give me some respect around this piece.
No, swapping my happiness for your happiness is an uneven exchange.
I told my personal jail-keeper NO!
I approved my own parole.
I wrote my own pardon.
I granted my own clemency
…And I am free. Praise the Lord! I’m free. No longer bound! No more chains holding me!
What do you need to be free from today? Who is torturing you? Who is tormenting you? Who is holding the real you hostage? My prayer for you today is the same prayer I prayed last night right after I wrote this- that God grant you the wisdom and courage to tell them NO…and if they don’t accept your NO…then I pray that you will find a stronger adjective to place in front of your NO…and then you will hold your NO even when they try to turn it into a "yes". I am praying for you that you continue to ease on down the road that God has set forth for you.
I love you.
Join me for Bible Study any Thursday at either 12:30 or 7:00 888-628-8983 (toll free)
God’s Best be With You Always,
Rev. Sterling J. Dowling
Pastor, Historic St. James A.M.E. Church
The Heart of Abbeville