Usually when I sit down to write, the words flow out like water. They are fluid, twisting here and there, and I am comfortable following them as they move. Today is a little different. Today, I’m sitting here and I’m looking at a blinking cursor. I’m praying. I’m thinking. It’s been a big week, full of lists and jobs and people and events.
A week ago, I wrote about being a Christian teacher in a public school. I had no idea that the words placed in my heart would strike a chord with so many people. I didn’t think as I clicked on that little “publish” button that God would take my little seed and multiply it and scatter it far and wide. If I had known, would I have spoken exactly what was on my heart? Would I have been so honest, so sure of my words? Or would I have second-guessed myself? Would I have tried to make my message more neutral?
I’m glad I didn’t know.
If you were to search the term “people pleaser”, you’d probably see my picture right there beside it. I want to please others. I run from conflict. The first few years that I taught, I would worry myself sick over any situation where a parent even hinted at frustration or disagreement with me. I used to find myself reliving unpleasant moments or words over and over in my mind, until I realized I was focused on pleasing others more than I was focused on pleasing God.
When I decided to focus fully on pleasing the Lord of my life, so many wonderful things fell into place. I don’t know about you, friends, but I am busy most of the year, except for those two glorious months that teachers call “summer break”. Oh my…summer break. I spend my days playing with the boys outside, swimming, playing the piano, writing as long as I want to (in between playing some more with the boys), and reading every book I can get my hands on! As July begins to wind down, my mind always starts going back to my classroom. I think about changes I want to make (which of you teachers have ever gotten up in the middle of the night to add to their classroom list…come on, you know you’ve done it!), I start looking at new bulletin board ideas, workstation materials, and rug-cleaners (gotta clean that rug…you don’t even want to know the kindergarten mishaps on a rug). I start mentally preparing myself for Meet the Teacher night, professional development, and room arrangement. No matter how much I think that I’m prepared, the first week back always gets me. The “busy” creeps in, slowly at first, but then suddenly, as my list grows and grows with what seems like an endless amount of tasks to do before the first day, the busy explodes.
It happened again this year. The to-do list seemed to take on a life of it’s own, and I’m sure it won’t get completed until next May. I’ve spent lots of time at school, and now, all of a sudden, I realize I haven’t seen my boys in about two days except to put them to bed and wake them up. Last year, I would’ve worried (Lord, am I being a good mommy?). There are times when I decide I’ve spent enough time at school, and I take the boys somewhere special each afternoon when the school day is over instead of staying after to work on lesson plans. Last year, I would’ve worried (Lord, am I being the best teacher?). Sometimes, by the time the clock says 9pm, I am sound asleep on the couch, and there are dirty dishes in the sink and clothes that need to be folded. Last year, I would’ve worried (Lord, am I being a good homemaker?). In the past, I have worried about being a good wife, a good daughter, a good friend. It’s in my nature to want to please others.
There came a point last year when I felt like I had stretched myself so thin that I thought I would break. That’s a tough place to be. I’m sure you have been there, too. It’s a noisy place, even if you are all alone. The noise of life can break you down. It’s in this place that the enemy of our souls really tries to get to us. “You’re not good enough,” he shouts. “You’re not in the right place! You have no business here, among these people who are better than you…”, and it goes on and on. He uses the words that are specific to us, the ones that hit us the hardest.
This summer, I heard a wonderful mentor, Gloria Gaither, say “Satan labels us, but God names us.” Words so true.
You see, when the noise of life and the labels of the enemy threaten to overwhelm me, I hear this whisper. It is a whisper that is so much bigger than the noise. It’s the whisper of my Father, and He’s calling me by name.
He calls me His child. He calls me beloved. He calls me His friend. My Savior calls me redeemed. He calls me changed. He calls me forgiven. He calls me enough.
I can be these things, because He has called me to be these things. No matter how busy I get, no matter how many directions I’m pulled, when I focus on pleasing God, I receive peace. With His strength, I can be wife to Chris and mommy to two precious boys. I can be a teacher, singer, and writer of words! I can be who He calls me to be!
You can be these things! He calls you by name! When you ask Jesus into your heart, He calls you His child, His treasure, and His beloved. He calls you by name!
When I committed to focus on pleasing the Lord instead of others, I wrote this song as my prayer. I will readily admit that I still prefer for people to be happy with me. I still like to be in harmony with those around me…it’s just part of my personality. But when it comes down to pleasing God or pleasing man, I am choosing to please God. I will say what He has placed on my heart. I will do what He calls me to do. I will choose to be who He has called me to be.
Take a listen to my song and sing it like your own! And let me know…who has He called you to be? What has He called you to do?
“Who You Call Me To Be” words and music by: Paige Givens (BMI), copyright 2014