This is a guest post by Donya Dunlap (Isn’t her first name so pretty?). She’s an administrative assistant, graphic designer and author that desires to communicate God’s love to women through teaching Bible studies, speaking engagements, and writing books and articles. Her first book, Forgetting the Fairy Tale, is scheduled for publication in the Fall/Winter of 2012. Follow her on Twitter. Find her on Facebook.
I used to have an overwhelming concern of what people thought of me. It was paralyzing and exhausting. I wanted everyone to believe that I was the perfect Christian school girl, the perfect leader, the perfect employee, etc.
The littlest correction given to me or failure on my part wasn’t just a teaching moment—it was devastating. My interaction with others rarely went past my carefully built façade that was hiding a very fearful, self-centered, and stressed out individual on the edge of a nervous breakdown. My anxiety level actually became so bad that for a period of several weeks I had continual moments of panic where my heart would race, I could hardly eat without making myself sick, and I frequently felt as if I couldn’t breathe.
Then one day everything changed.
I was reading a book by Elizabeth George called Loving God with All Your Mind. In it she focused on the truths of Philippians 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
It wasn’t just a light bulb moment for me. It was as if God took the truths of that one verse and blew up my mind and heart with them.
So what if people saw my faults and failures? God sees them every day and He still loves me. All I can do is my best and leave the rest to God. Are those people in that corner talking about me? Maybe. Maybe not. What they think or say about me is irrelevant. My job is not to try to guess motives or mindsets of another, but rather keep my mind focused on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praise-worthy.
When I took my focus off people and off myself and put it on God I became a new person. I was full of joy and completely at peace. I even had several people ask me if I had fallen in love because of the joy that was displayed on my face. One woman said, “I’ve never seen you so happy before!”
If you struggle with perfectionism and worry over what people think of you, I would encourage you to spend time meditating on the truths of Philippians 4:8. It is impossible for us to know with certainty what people’s opinions of us are, but it is such a relief to know that they don’t matter. What matters is our relationship with Christ and that He is pleased with the activities of our minds.
I believe that you too can be free from the cage of opinion through the truths of God’s Word and like the Psalmist, we can all live to the fullest in the joy of our salvation.