My Journey From People-Pleaser to Joyful Daughter

Hi! I'm Hunter and I grew up in Dallas Texas in a family of cultural Christians. My upbringing, though wonderful and joyful, was not faith-filled. Despite our spotty church attendance, I spent every summer at a Christian camp that began slowly changing my life.

Throughout high school I hung out with only non-Christians and lived my life far from God, but my fascination with Christianity persisted. I ended up applying to a Christian university and the summer before college I worked at the same Christian camp I had faithfully attended over the years. That summer changed my life. I lived in Christian community for the first time and I finally realized what it meant to actually follow Jesus. After that, I never turned back. I gave my life to God and experienced the joy that is found only in Him. To this day, that is still the best summer of my life.

I hit a low point in my spiritual walk when I experienced a lot of backlash for my strong faith. My sophomore year of college, I studied abroad in Lausanne, Switzerland and lived in a house with 70 other Pepperdine students, many of whom partied often and intensely. Lots of drunkenness, hookups, and drugs took place in the house I lived in. But through it all, I remained steady - I read my Bible in the mornings while I ate, hung out with fellow believers, traveled every weekend with friends, and went to bed early every night. For whatever reason, though, my friends who partied constantly perceived my lack of involvement as my judging them. No matter what I did or how much I tried to not comment on their lifestyles, they decided I was being judgmental. They saw me as self-righteous and condescending.

Their reaction had me at a loss. I had never even attempted to make them feel this way; how could they miss my heart?! I was just trying to be a good friend to them! I just didn’t get it. More than that, I couldn’t imagine why God would punish me for trying to live out my faith. I grew angry and bitter toward both God and the people who perceived my motives so incorrectly.

I grew very depressed because I allowed the opinions of others to ring true in my head. I began to believe I was a horrible person, just as they said I was. I no longer saw myself as God saw me; I allowed them to give me an identity. I believed their lies to be truth, silently agreeing with them in the very depths of my mind.

This went on for months until one day I realized that I struggle with people-pleasing. I was obsessed with what people thought of me and would do literally everything to make sure I was well-liked. While I’ve grown a lot over the years, this is a daily fight for me even now.

But I have learned this:

I can do everything in my power to make people like me, but they may still not like me.

People who don’t love Jesus will not like me sometimes.

People who do love Jesus will not like me sometimes.

And that’s okay.

I now understand that the way others perceive me is not in my control and is not my fault. What matters most is that Jesus loves me unconditionally. Even when I am in the pits of frustration and rejection from humans, I have Jesus. I no longer have to take on the identity of others but can remain grounded in what God says. I am striving daily to understand and rest in the fact that He is all I need.

I fully believe this truth for you as well. Jesus doesn’t love me any more than he loves you. He is passionately pursuing you, just as He is pursuing me. This amazing joy, hope, and freedom that I’ve found is readily available to you too! It’s my prayer that you find the courage to drop the weight of people-pleasing so you can run passionately after Him. Because I have found that embracing my true identity in Christ is exceedingly better than any counterfeit version someone can try to place on me.

Have you overcome your own limiting beliefs or the opinions of others? Have you learned what your identity is in Christ?