We all live for people. But are you living for the right person?
Maybe you became a buttoned-up lawyer because your parents “made” you, when you really wanted to be an artist in paint-covered jeans, flicking the perfect strokes like Bob Ross, but it was too “impractical.” Now, you’re miserable.
Or, maybe you’re feeling frantic because you never say no. Everyone says that you’re so capable and competent, and you don’t want to let anyone down and cause them to think that you’re not as capable as they think you are. So you’re doing everything: PTA, church groups, Boy Scouts, working late, going out with friends. You go. You do. And as a result you’re beyond overcommitted, and, even worse, you’re burning out.
Or, maybe you have a significant other whom you love, but you find yourself going wherever they go and doing whatever they do. And you have your own ideas, but you aren’t expressing them. You don’t want to cause waves. You don’t want them to stop thinking you’re the perfect person. So you keep going along with them even if it’s not your true self.
All three examples are of people who make other people their meaning.
Maybe you can relate?
Meaning is the deepest root of our lives. It’s planted in our hearts and sprouts up the reason for our existence. And for many of us, what’s rooted in our hearts are people, others, parents, friends, even strangers.
There’s one major problem with that.
People are fickle and impossible to please. They change their minds, are emotional, get in funks, are funky. And saddest of all, they die. That makes trying to impute the meaning of our lives into people, even our loving parents, insufficient. People aren’t enough.
Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying. Parents, friends, others, should influence us. Their well-meaning words should be considered. We should take others’ advice.
But if you make your entire life about pleasing them, you are going to go for a ride you don’t want to go on. Because people are difficult to please—impossible, really—you won’t ever find them fully pleased by what you do.
I’m also not saying that we should stop doing things to please people. If we do that, we probably wouldn’t keep a job, have friends, grow a marriage, be human. It’s natural to want to please people, good, even. And the reason we try to is found in this idea.
We all want to be, not only accepted and loved, but favored.
Many of us may not be familiar with that word, favor, but it’s what we really want, pine for. It’s more than just people saying that you’re good, or that they like you. Sure we want to be loved. But this is different than that, but not any less desired, needed.
You see, we’re dying to be seen. It’s that sense of recognition from your friends, colleagues, parents that you so desperately want, that they are not just looking at you, but see you. And they gush over you. They embrace you physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. You aren’t just loved and accepted; they are proud of you. You are the apple of their eye, their treasure, treasured, esteemed. You are delighted in: Favored.
But because we seek favor ultimately from people—fickle, inconsistent, and emotionally driven beings—we only get a nibble of what we truly want. It’s a morsel, not the meal; it’s the hors d’oerves, not the main course. It won’t satisfy our appetite because it’s not meant to. Without the entrée, it will frustrate us and leave us hungry.
The issue that we run into with placing our meaning ultimately into the hands of people is that their hands are not big enough to hold it.
What we should do is find the right person who can carry it.
From my experience and learnings, the only person that is capable of carrying our meaning for us is God.
He is the feast we are looking for. He is the person who can feed us what will truly satisfy. He’s not just the meal but also the dessert. He is ultimately the only person capable of carrying our meaning.
God is faithful, unchanging, consistent, true, good, loving, all-seeing, and all-knowing. He will not die. He is the ultimate person, with greater celebrity than Beyoncé and Jay-Z put together, more powerful than the US President, more royal than the Queen of England, and wealthier than Jeff Bezos.
And he sees you.
And all of the accolades, respect, honor, and fame that we pine for is found in spades in God. He’s the only true wellspring of favor.
Root yourself in him.