I was eighteen and the year was 1992. After begging my parents for weeks to agree to let me go on a senior trip with my friends to Great America in Chicago, IL, they finally conceded.
Four eighteen year old girls in stone washed jeans and big hair packed in my friend's champagne Chevy Cavalier. Four friends with a hunger for freedom and independence. Four friends celebrating graduation and a journey into the next adventure of their lives.
The trip was fun, but also eye opening. During my younger years, and even into adulthood, people pleasing defined me. Sadly, my incessant need to please people and gain approval from others left little room to be...well,...me. Who I was evaded me. I had no idea. I might have known my favorite color, but if I thought you would disagree with me on it, I would have seconded guessed even that trivial of a detail.
Sad. I know.
This trip at eighteen years of age revealed I had no idea what I liked or who I was. My friends were all confident in their likes and dislikes and it didn't seem to matter to them if my opinion differed. They were confident in who they were. I wasn't.
Sadly, this lack of confidence continued into adulthood. I am not as much of a people pleaser now. However, from time to time, it tries to come back much like those stone wash jeans.
Last week, I believe God used pumpkin pie to give me an example of how so often we are trying to be someone else or convince others to be like us.
I like cold pumpkin pie. Don't ask me why. I just do. I had tried it warm and decided cold was the way to go. Someone was trying to convince me that hot pumpkin pie was better than cold. This person seemed determined to win me over to their pie point of view.
Finally I replied, "I like it cold. You like it hot. It is ok. Neither is right or wrong. You can like it hot and I can like it cold. It is ok. "
It doesn't matter. What I like and what you like are irrelevant. One isn't right and the other wrong. It is just a matter of opinion.
Don't misunderstand, I am not referring to absolute truths. Jesus is the only way, truth and life and no man to come to the Father except through Him. That is not an opinion, it is a Truth.
I am only referring to opinions. It doesn't matter if you like Chevy Cavaliers and I'd rather drive a Toyota. It doesn't matter if I like blue and you prefer pink. It doesn't matter if you like Pepsi and I like Coke.
This may seem elementary to you, but to thousands, this one revelation will be life freeing.
Let me put it in a more important context:
It doesn't matter if your friend homeschools and you feel strongly about having your kids in a public school. It doesn't matter if you feel called to be a stay at home mom and your sister is a working mom and loves her career. It doesn't matter if you feel led to go to college and your brother wants to own his own business. It simply doesn't matter!
All of the above examples are opinions. They are neither right nor wrong.
We can learn to accept and love each other regardless of our opinions. We can quit trying to convince people to change into something they were never meant to be in the first place. When we finally accept people for who they are, the happier everyone will be and the better relationships we will have with our friends and family.
Everyone has to walk out this journey called life on their own. Everyone must go the direction they are led.
God is our final authority and as long as we are walking with Him on our journey, we can have confidence that we are on the right path regardless of our favorite color or preferred pie temperature.
Everyone's journey will look different. Just because one looks different from yours, does not make it wrong. It's just different.
My prayer for myself and all of us is that we will stop judging other people's decisions and stop trying to be something we aren't just to gain another person's approval.
I like it cold and if you like it hot, that is just fine.
"For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God." 1 John 3:20
"For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But, the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." James 3:16-17
"But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts." 1 Thess 2:4