This past Sunday, Joshua and I stopped at Starbucks around 2:30 to treat ourselves to an iced mocha and iced chai latte. The plan was to get our drinks and chill inside, reading or journaling until choir practice. After I got my drink and sipped the spicy almond milk deliciousness, I mentally wrinkled my nose and thought, “Junk, we should’ve gotten this closer to when we are leaving for church so I could have this drink during small group.”
I had to put up a mental foot to trip the ridiculous thought. “What?! Are you kidding, Bethany? Get real. Why does it matter whether people think you’re cool for drinking at Starbucks? Honestly, they probably wouldn’t even think that. Everyone drinks Starbucks. You’re insane. Nobody cares.”
Those couple moments of internal conversation have been playing over and over in my mind, and I realize how often I–nearly unconsciously–make decisions because I think someone will be impressed.
Joshua Becker writes that acceptance is a basic human need (The More of Less). But often we go about trying to fulfill those needs in the completely wrong way. Instead of seeking to impress others and make them think I’m cool, or even just think I’m normal or like them, I should seek to make connections so I am accepted for who I am. As we connect, not only is my need for acceptance fulfilled but theirs is as well as we know and understand each other better. Connection goes beneath the surface of what we wear or the purse or cafe drink we carry. It’s about who we are as people.
It’s also important to note that most of the people we are trying to impress don’t really matter. Not that they as human beings don’t matter, but their opinion shouldn’t be important to me. This leads us to ask the question: whose opinion, then, should be important to us?
Joshua says to me all the time, “I think you’re beautiful, and God made you so He thinks you’re beautiful–why does anyone else matter?” And in a sense he’s right. The question is usually followed up with some comment about being confident in how I look regardless of not feeling put together, my eyebrows being off-kilter, or my hair looking lame. I need the reminder, because so often I measure my put-togetherness against the people around me. If I am confident in who I am, both my looks and my personality, if my husband thinks I look presentable, and if I trust that God made me look the way I do (which He did), then truly I should not care what other people think about my appearance or the possessions I carry.
All of this boils down to my priorities. Who am I trying to please? Why do I let worry about others’ opinion take up so much of my mind? Am I more concerned about looking put together than connecting with the souls around me? What do I need to change about my mindset so that I am no longer self-obsessed and instead community-focused?
Maybe I’m the only person struggling with this, or maybe now you realize that you too spend too much energy on how you look and wondering what others will think of you. Let me say with all the love in my heart: STOP. It’s not worth it. There are so many more things, better healthier things, that should take up our head space and our schedule. Remember that our goal should be to please God and be Christlike in every facet of our lives–not impress people around you.
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30 ESV