For a large portion of my life, I would’ve classified myself as a people pleaser. In other words, I did things so people would like me, because honestly, I DID want to be liked. To this day, I still struggle to muzzle the gloryhound within me that scratches and barks constantly to be let out.
However, in recent years, I’ve been slowly but surely coming into the incredible reality that the approval/disapproval of others doesn’t really matter all that much, especially if someone is primarily focused on pleasing God and Him alone.
This “new-to-me” revelation has ushered an insane amount of freedom and relief into my life as of late because… I’m FINALLY learning that I can be exactly WHO God designed me to be while simultaneously doing exactly WHAT God wants me to do. It’s truly a beautiful thing!
To prove that I mean what I say, allow me to come clean about a few things that you may or may not know about me.
I play guitar
I wanted to play guitar as a teenager for one reason… you guessed it… to impress the girls! Lol. So, I got a no-name $100 guitar, and was determined to become a rock star. I learned most of the basic major chords and not much else, but still… I thought I was something special. I have a fairly decent six string now and I enjoy playing a mix of country, gospel and contemporary songs and jammin’ with my fam. As far as impressing the girls? Well, at least my wife appreciates my skills! (I think🤔)
I’m really fickle about stuff
No, really… I am.
To give you an example, when I’m at the drive-thru window, the exchange usually goes something like this…
Hello, welcome to Random Burger, can I take your order?
Yes! I think I’ll take a number one please? Wait… Does that come with mustard or pickle??? Because I really don’t like either of those…
No sir, it doesn’t
Ok, great. How about mayonnaise? Because I really do want mayo.
Yes sir, mayo already comes on that sandwich.
Sweet! Now… about the fries… can I substitute onion rings or something else?
Yes sir, you can.
Awesome! What sides do you have? Because I haven’t taken the time to read this giant menu in front of me.
Fries, onion rings or macaroni & cheese, your pick.
Eh, I think I’ll stick with the traditional fries anyway… I just like having my options.
Number one with fries… ok. What kind of drink would you like sir?
Oooh man, I haven’t really thought about that yet… I think I’ll take a tea, but it really needs to be half-cut… trying to watch the sugar intake, ya know?
Yes sir, we understand. One half-cut tea with that number one, would tha…
Oh, wait! About that half-cut tea, could you make it more like 65/35?
You know, like 65% sweet; 35% unsweet? Because I can’t be drinking something that tastes like tree bark.
Ooookaaay? I guess we can do that sir.
Would that be all?
Yes, i believe that about sums it up!
Ok, your total will be…
Oh, about extra sauces?!
I’m a car guy
I don’t really know where it all started, but I tend to think it’s in my blood.
Growing up, I remember listening to my parents reminisce about the golden age of muscle cars. My mom with her Candy Apple Red ’67 Mustang fastback, and my dad with his big displacement classics such as Barracudas, Camaros and Chevelles.
Regardless of how it began, I have just always loved cars. From small Japanese imports to refined German driving machines to big, thumpin’ American muscle cars. Slow, fast, expensive, cheap, cool, quirky… it really doesn’t matter, I just like em. I’ve even got a strange attraction to vans? I have owned a slew of automobiles in my 16 years of driving, but if I had to pick one that keeps me coming back for more… it’s a Mustang GT. I just can’t escape that intoxicating V8 burble when you let off the throttle. I’ve had four in the past and am currently attempting to convince my wife how another two door muscle car would be a sensible “investment” for our family. I may or may not have used this line recently: “But darling, it’s for the ministry!” We’ll see how that one plays out though…
I stink at building things
Let’s just say… that I’m not the guy you call when you want an addition to your house.
I’m not even the guy you call to hang a picture on the wall (think Swiss cheese sheetrock🧀). It’s seriously that bad. I’m fairly certain my wife would even highly discourage me from building a birdhouse, if I ever decided to try my hand at it.
What’s crazy is, I worked for my dad’s construction company every summer from 12 years old to 18 years old? You would think someone with common sense would pick up some skills along the way? Key words = common sense.
Put me on a stage; I’ll sing, I’ll speak, I’ll joke, I’ll preach, whatever… but DO NOT ask me to build anything.
I enjoy hunting
When I was younger, it was kinda just the thing to do. It was sort of a competition between my friends and me about who would kill the biggest buck each season, but now, it’s less about the kill, and more about just being in the woods when the world wakes up. Sneaking in undetected and being present when the first sparrow breaks the night silence with a beautiful song is something you never grow tired of. At least I don’t. The serenity is matchless.
I have a severe attention deficit issue
What were we talking about? Oh yeah…
I’m not gonna call it ADD, because I never have “officially” been diagnosed with it, and honestly, I don’t really know if want to be, because I kinda like exactly who I am, but for real, it’s pretty bad.
I was the kid on the baseball team who would always be throwing dust up in the air, and chasing butterflies. I was the one that was always daydreaming in school and doodling in my notebook. I’m the guy that walks into a room and forgets why he went there in the first place… and I’m like only halfway to being a senior citizen?!
Each time my wife puts me through one of those social media quizzes about ADD, the results are off the charts. I know that doesn’t really hold water, but still…
What were we talking about again?
I love storytelling
I began to realize this when I first began cutting my teeth in ministry. I started out in children’s work and quickly came to realize that… one does not simply tell those sweet-lil’-angel-babies to sit down and listen as you read three chapters of the Bible. Ain’t happenin’. So, I learned to adapt, and essentially became a living cartoon character every time I entered that room. Always moving, acting out character sketches, and telling Bible stories in such a way that kids would actually WANT to pay attention.
I specifically remember me and my pastor friend Brett working together and creating this ongoing skit for kid’s church called, “No Touchy Karate”. Each of us would dramatically enter the room with our ties wrapped around our heads and begin talking smack. Then, we would execute totally awesome (but totally made-up) karate moves, all the while never laying a hand on each other. Think… child-friendly WWE. One of us would win, the other would lose, and then we’d jabber on about a rematch week to week. It was super fun.
Someday, I’d love to pursue something like radio announcing, voiceovers or acting, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin honestly! Right now, I’m content to incorporate some level of this in my preaching week to week.☺️
I love animals
I know, it probably seems contradictory to say, “I love animals” while I’m also a hunter, but that’s where I’m at. Sorry, not sorry.
I’ve always loved animals. Ever since I can remember, they’ve always had my heart. When I was a kid, the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin was my hero. Crikey! I was fascinated especially by reptiles, and had all sorts of lizards and snakes growing up. I still would probably own a python or a boa if my wife wasn’t so “anti-anything creepy” as someone can possibly be.
Today, I’m just happy with a dog. Pictured above is my best buddy of about 7 years. His name was Rocky. I loved him and he loved me; we went everywhere together. He always reminded me of Stitch from that Disney movie because of his ears. Sadly, Rocky passed away about a year ago due to a passing car. And yeah, I cried if you’re wondering. It was tough. I’d love to get another fur buddy someday soon, but am taking my time.
I’m losing my hair😕
I hate to admit, but alas, ’tis true, and I’m a little self-conscious about it. It doesn’t help that each time I go and visit my family, my dad seems to “notice” it all over again😐.
I’m conflicted. Part of me hopes that once I shave it all off (bc I will not do a combover) that I will be able to pull off a Walter White look.But honestly, I’m fearful that I’ll come out looking more like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum from Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”.
So, it’s whatever… it’s one of things that I’m not happy about, but it’ll be alright I guess. At least I’ll be able to add a whole new type of joke to my portfolio? 😒
I’ve done it since I was a kid and enjoyed drawing everything from sports stars to wildlife to superheroes.
When I was a teenager, I helped paint large murals for our church’s annual youth conferences. I honestly can’t say that I’ve really done much with it other than a sketch here or there, but I still really do enjoy it. It’s therapeutic for me.
I don’t really follow sports😬
I know I’ve probably lost about half of you there, but hear me out.
I enjoy playing sports. Even though I’m out of shape, I’ll jump in a pick up game of baseball, basketball, football, tennis… whatever… I’ll play! I’m not great at any of them, but I’m good enough, and I’m fiercely competitive.
I have just never been super interested in watching basketball games on TV, following the latest high-school prodigy, knowing batting averages by heart or arguing over which college has the best program. If other people wanna do that, I’m okay with it, that’s just not me.
I’d still rather watch cartoons
I’m an 80’s baby and grew up in the 90’s so I’m especially fond of Saturday morning cartoons that aired at that time.
Shows like Doug, Recess, The Animaniacs, Inspector Gadget, Darkwing Duck, Space Ghost, Batman, Ed, Edd & Eddy, Dragonball Z, TMNT, Johnny Bravo… even Captain Planet provided me some of the best memories of my childhood. To this day, I’d prefer to watch a cartoon over a real-life movie or show. So, if you personally know me and think I’m a bit immature? This is probably why.
Well… that and video games. I wasted a lot of time playing video games.
Just FYI: Me and my wife paid to watch Frozen twice in the theatre… with no children. Just us. Twice.
So… why in the world am I telling you all this?
Because I’m just naive enough to believe that God can and will use people where they are, because He loves people for exactly who they are.
God made me… me.
God made you… you.
Your face, your body, your personality, your strengths, your weaknesses, your temperament… all of it was in God’s architectural plan for you.
Please don’t misunderstand me, or take my words out of context.
I’m not saying that EVERYTHING that feels natural to you is necessarily good or right. God is very clear in His Word that sin exists and it also explains that God cannot and will not tempt man with evil (see James 1:12-15). Therefore, God is not “okay” with you sinning just because it comes naturally or feels right.
I’m just saying that God uses ALL different kinds of people with ALL different kinds of pasts in ALL different capacities for ALL different kinds of purposes. And THAT is super refreshing to me.
Allow me to inform you to who God uses:
Introverted? God will use you.
Extroverted? God will use you.
Trendy dresser? God will use you.
Plain Jane? God will use you.
Short? God will use you.
Tall? God will use you.
Old? God will use you.
Young? God will use you.
Social butterfly? God will use you.
Awkward duckling? God will use you.
Highly intelligent? God will use you.
Few fries short? God will use you.
Financially well off? God will use you.
Barely getting by? God will use you.
Have an office job? God will use you.
Do manual labor? God will use you.
Gifted in speaking? God will use you.
Stutter? God will use you.
Sing beautifully? God will use you.
Can’t carry a tune in a bucket? God will use you.
Able bodied? God will use you.
Handicapped? God will use you.
Have a college degree or two? God will use you.
No high school diploma? God will use you.
Tobacco free? God will use you.
Smoke or dip? God will use you.
Pretty? God will use you.
Homely? God will use you.
Climbing the company ladder? God will use you.
Stuck in a meaningless job? Can will use you.
Athletic? God will use you.
Uncoordinated? God will use you.
Organized? God will use you.
Disheveled? God will use you.
Clean record? God will use you.
Checkered past? God will use you.
Do I need to keep going?
Because seriously I could; but I’m thinking you get my point.
Not everyone that God uses has their name in lights or possesses showy abilities… as a matter of fact, most don’t. Most people are just ordinary, average folks who are trying to wade through the seas of life; doing their best to keep their head above the water.
I’m still learning and still growing… but if there’s one thing that I have gathered is that, becoming who God designed me to be is perhaps the greatest journey I could ever embark on. Knowing that He uses my past, my mistakes, my likes and dislikes, my strengths and weaknessnes and everything in between is just… mind blowing?! After all, He made me. He designed me. He wired me. He gave me my own unique personality, and He gave it to me for a reason.
Same goes for you. Seriously.
Quit listening to people that write you off because of your past.
Sure, there are real consequences for the decisions you’ve made.
Sure, some people may never forgive you for things you’ve done.
Sure, others may view you as silly for simply being yourself, but that’s okay…
When you begin to come clean about who you really are… good, bad or ugly… you will then begin to feel the chains being loosened.
I recently heard a successful entrepreneur say, “When you own your flaws, you dramatically reduce your vulnerability and you leave your enemy with very little ammunition.”
The fact is, you only have one real enemy, and that enemy would like it very much if you’d continue to play your little game of pretend; acting like you’ve got it all together.
After all, as long as you are proud about the fact that you “seem” okay, nothing will change. You’ll keep doing the same thing… over and over and over. You’ll put the mask on every morning and take it off at night… wearing yourself out.
I urge you… come clean.
What does “coming clean” actually look like, you might ask?
– Sharing a past failure with a person who’s experiencing something similar.
– Opening up and about your battle with addiction with someone close to you.
– Just being yourself, and ceasing to put on the facade every single day.
– Owning your character flaws in day to day life.
Don’t you really just wanna do that anyway?
Don’t you want to dump all that anxiety?
Don’t you want to live without the fear of someone finding out who you really are?
Don’t you want to live freely?
I promise… the payoff is worth the risk.
thank you for your honesty,i really struggle with trying to please others,but at the end of the day, I need to remember my Savior is the Only Critic that matters.
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Amen to that Misty. I think we all do if we’re honest with ourselves. After all, nobody likes being the oddball. But seriously, the whole “acceptance” thing is WAY overrated, and ultimately doesn’t matter that much. Funny thing is, the more I try to please Him, the less I worry about trying to please others. It’s SUPER liberating. Anyway… I guess I’m saying all that to say, Thanks for taking time to read and comment! It’s incredibly encouraging for me to know it touched someone!
I have a response to this but it’s rather long. You ask the following questions and I’m going to take this opportunity to answer. Not for myself necessarily, but my perspective on why it’s a difficult thing.
“Don’t you really just wanna do that anyway?”
I’ve always wanted to do that and for others to do the same with me. I hate phony. I like real, down-to-earth and honest conversations with people. I hope this doesn’t sound freaky or weird but there’s a wonderful feeling of intimacy and connection in that.
“Don’t you want to dump all that anxiety?”
Would love to and would love others to feel that kind of freedom around me. It gets lonely when you feel the need to talk about stuff. So and you go through a list of people in your head and you mentally cross off each one until there’s no one left on the list. sigh.
“Don’t you want to live without the fear of someone finding out who you really are?”
Sure would. But in reality what would that look like? Many people are simply not secure enough in their own identity to allow that. Someone else being open and honest with those people gives those people the opportunity to destroy them. Insecure people do destroy others to feed their own ego. If it were simply a matter of losing friends, that would not be an issue. We can all afford to lose “friends” who are not truly friends. What I mean is that there could be far more devastating consequences than just losing “friends”. What about the guy who confides to a coworker about an aspect of work he doesn’t like and shortly thereafter is fired. Consider the drug addict who just wants help for her addiction. Confiding in someone could ultimately cost her her children and land her in prison. Add on top of that people saying she deserved to lose her kids and be in prison (some of the people saying that stuff are Christians). When something that traumatizing happens to a person, what do you suppose the chances of that person ever being free of their addiction is? And what about the person who has different ideas about what a child’s education should look like. Yeah, people can claim educational neglect, even when no such neglect exists. And on and on…
“Don’t you want to live freely?”
Freedom doesn’t really exist in our society when you consider the examples above, and many more that I could list. Sure you are free to do, believe, and say what society decides is okay.
I do like the whole concept of what you’ve written, Josh. I really do. I’m sick of all the phoniness and the stupid games we all are forced to play. I dream of the kind of world you’ve described. But then maybe I should go through each day saying, like Esther, “If I perish, I perish.”
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Mrs. Sharon, thank you so much for taking the time to read this post! You bring up an interesting point concerning people who are not quite as secure in their own identity perhaps as someone like me.
Allow me be the first to tell you that I don’t know what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes because, well… I’m me. And that’s all I’m ever going to be. But my point here is not attempting to get everyone to do what I’ve done in this article and just about bear it all… my point is… just a little.
I really like what you said about Esther’s attitude as well. “If I perish, I perish.” And you see, that’s about where I am right now. I dare not put anyone else on the altar and force them to have the same outlook I do, because after all, It’s taken me a LOOOOOONG time to get to that point. But I DO think and hope that all people… ESPECIALLY Christians will have that opportunity afforded to them somewhere along the way in life.
So, in response to your comment… I can’t pretend to know exactly what you’ve been through. Even if you told me EVERYTHING, all I could do is sympathize with you… I couldn’t really empathize with you. Your road is your road, as my road is mine. All I’m doing here is trying to lay out how I see things, and writing down what I think will encourage people from those observations.
Please take my opinions as a grain of salt because they are just that. Opinions. I reserve the right to be wrong (pun intended) and I exercise that right quite frequently.
Once again, thanks for reading and for sharing. Through any disagreement that we may have regarding personal paradigms, I hope you can see my heart… and my heart is helping people navigate this crazy thing called life. Thanks.
Awesome word Josh!!! Keep up the good work.
Sent from my iPhone
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I’ll try to Gwen! Thanks for reading!
Quite a post…preacher! I love the drive-thru order thing…
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Thanks my brotha! That’s *quite literally* how I roll… lol. Thanks for reading!
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And thanks for the reply, my friend!