Before I could go to that pool party, I needed to be prepared.
I needed to make sure I wore my cute swimsuit and not the plain blue one. Other girls like painting their nails, right? Maybe I should find some nail polish. I needed to think up some good topics of conversation. Would it be too weird if I said I liked cats? I don’t want to be branded a crazy cat lady.
“Did you have fun?” my mom asked when the pool party was over. I said something generic in response. The truth was, I would have had more fun if I had felt comfortable. The whole time I was there I was paralyzed with fear of being weird that I could never relax enough to have fun.
As young women it is so easy to fall prey to the obsession of other people’s opinions about us, but the truth is that is a trap because we will never be able to please everyone. Let’s lay down our need to please everyone and look at these reminders.
God is our judge
We live in a world of evaluation. Our teachers give us grades. If you play sports you have stats. Peers judge each other and we judge ourselves. We will always have an authority in our lives judging us, so we must remember who the ultimate authority is.
Unlike human judges, God saw the event as it took place. He is both a judge and a witness. So His justice is a good thing because He sees when injustice has been done to us, and we have the promise that He will one day restore perfect justice.
“From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind;
from His dwelling place He watches all who live on Earth—
He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.”
God is the judge who forms the hearts of all. He can see through the lies of the manipulator who claims to be good. He can see the pain of suffering, even when no one believes you. God sees us all and is righteous, therefore we can trust His judgments will be fair.
We are part of a grace-based community
One of my friends goes to a youth group that has a “no perfect people rule.” If you are a teenager who emerged from puberty looking like a chiseled statue, is emotionally stable, and has never had any gnawing questions about faith, then you will have to find another youth group.
Though I have never asked, I highly doubt my friend’s youth group has ever had to turn anyone away. One way or another, we all have our imperfections.
Grace is the thread that stitches together our church communities. All of us were once lost until we found Jesus. We could not earn this grace, instead we received it. This grace was not cheap or flimsy, but one that covers every sin.
If that grace is powerful enough to do that, how could this grace not extend to bad hair days, awkward small talk, and embarrassing siblings?
We can care for others without caring what they think
Outside our grace-based community, we still do not need to fear what others think because God is our judge. But does this attitude turn us into rebellious, “only God can judge me” punks? No. There is a healthy way to let go of people-pleasing while still being a pleasure to be around.
Let’s take an example from Daniel. In Daniel chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that is a forewarning to his humiliation. When Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he added this advice on the end:
“Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” Daniel 4:27 (NIV)
Daniel did not have to do that, but the fact that he did shows us that he genuinely cared for this Babylonian king who destroyed Daniel’s homeland. What a powerful love!
To care for someone without caring means to genuinely care for their own good, even if they don’t care about yours. Caring about others without caring what they think is necessary because sometimes, love is hard. Love can mean confronting a friend who is involved in something unhealthy. It is not loving to pretend someone isn’t hurting, even when they’re hurting themselves.
May we show love to others by caring for their ultimate good. Then we can pray that God’s will will be done in their lives.
A Closing Prayer
Dear God, Today, remind me that You are my Judge. No one else is my judge nor am I my own judge. You are the Lord of all, the God who judges righteously. Please help my church community to show grace in all we do. Increase our patience and willingness to forgive. With You as my Judge, let me be free from the opinions of people who only see parts of me while You see the whole. But do not let me resent these people, instead let me care for them and pray that You will make Yourself known to them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Emily Bianchini is a church kid. Her passion is writing to other church kids about owning their faith. When she’s not writing, Emily loves spending time in God’s creation — she likes hiking, but she dislikes trails and prefers to blaze her own.