All in All
It’s pretty astonishing to look back and see how God paves the way for life lessons to be used decades later.
In my teens, I had a close friend that recognized my mind would get distracted with worries of what others thought or said about me. She wouldn’t even entertain the discussion or thoughts I’d bring up, and I was always impressed with her boldness to tell me directly, “You need to stop worrying about what others may think”. I’d never had a friend come out and say it that pointedly to me – and I would be taken off guard and the conversation would halt. She later died of complications with diabetes, and I credit her with first recognizing and helping me work on this area in my life.
In my twenties, God used my boss to help me with this. And when it comes down to it, it’s really a pride issue. Most worries, wondering, or anxiety about what someone may think of us, can be traced back to pride. If you keep asking yourself “but why are you concerned about that” when it comes to these types of worries, it’s usually more about us and our pride, than anything else. My boss had an awesome way of asking me, “Is this an issue between you and God? Have you sinned against this person? If no, and they have an issue with you, let the Holy Spirit do his work. Don’t take other people’s problems personally.” What an encouragement! I’ve seen those memes that say “not everyone is going to like you… you’re not bacon”, which are funny, but there’s some truth to that. Not everyone IS going to like me. And guess what? That’s okay. That’s not my problem, and I’m not going to take it personally.
In my thirties I found myself in a scenario where I had thoughts of “oh great, they don’t know the full story and they’re going to think X, Y, or Z about me, my choices, etc”. And again, God put a church leader in my path to remind me that it’s not mine to worry about. “Pray that they never have to walk the road you are walking or make the decisions you are making.” The encouragement and act of prayer brought me peace from worrying what others may perceive or feel about me in that moment.
And it’s pretty easy to get into that cycle, right? Wondering can quickly escalate to worrying about what others may perceive, judge, speculate about us. Understandably, as we are designed for community (common union). We are called to live peaceably among all, and not cause others to stumble. Where this gets tricky – is we are also created as different members and parts of one body, all with different purposes and experiences, uniquely designed to glorify God and further the kingdom. How boring (and unproductive) if we were all identical! Different humans are going to have different thoughts – and that’s how God designed it!
So how do we keep our focus, first and foremost, on our relationship with the Lord? What are some practical ways to center God as our ALL in ALL, and not let relationships in this world come before him? How do you recenter when you feel out of balance?
Recently I felt prompted to apologize for a comment I made to someone. Even after I did, it still bothered me. After I spent time reflecting and praying about it, I figured out that I was more concerned about what the person may think of me after I made the comment, than I was about what God thought of it all. That may partly be because I can rely on the fact that God knows my heart and God knew what I meant by the comment. There’s grace there. But this situation caused me to examine other areas where I may have been more concerned with what others perceived, than I was about sinning against the Lord.
He’s so faithful to continue His work in us! I’m sure my forties will find me using some of these same life lessons about letting go of other people’s opinions and focusing on God’s.
Decisions become easier when your will to glorify God outweighs your will to please others.
I loved these passages that reflect the vastness of God. He’s more than we could ever comprehend or need. Relationships on this earth may fail, but God doesn’t fail. He came for each of us and has a plan for all. He really is our all in all.
He came for all and lives in all of us. (Col 3:11)
He is the source of all (1 Cor 8:6)
He supplies all your needs (Philippians 4:19)
He originated all (Romans 11:36)
He is all our hope (Psalm 62:5)
He is over all and through all (Eph 4:6)