Impress or Inspire


Do I do what I do to impress others or to inspire them?

This is a question that I ask frequently of myself. In the past, I have  answered it based on the ways I assumed others would answer it. Did she think I was trying to get attention for myself? Did he think I was trying to prove something? There were aspects of my creativity that I allowed to be stifled as a result of the way I answered these questions.

I have been using the past tense, but the truth is, I still struggle regularly with these issues.

It’s hard to let go of people pleasing ways, especially when you have developed a lifetime habit of seeking to live up to the expectations of others. If I perceive that someone is disappointed with me or if they are annoyed or irritated with something I have done, I have a tendency to isolate myself and not try again. Inevitably, my frustrations will grow, because I blame the other person for misunderstanding my heart and for keeping me from doing the thing I was made to do. Even as I write that down, I recognize the ridiculousness of this reasoning. First off, perceptions are not to be trusted. But secondly, even if someone IS truly bothered by something I have done this should not be the thing that determines what I do or don’t do.

As I have been praying about my one word for the year, submit, I have been deeply challenged to let go of my need to please others and to seek only God’s glory. The question of impress or inspire has to be a heart check rather than a question of what others will think.

The truth is God has given me a passion for life. I love to celebrate anything and everything. I find ways to make even the most mundane things fun. I’m the kind who dances while mopping and wears a tiara when vacuuming. I cry weep when I see a child succeed. I want to support every beautiful cause, be there for every important moment, exuberantly cheer on friends, lavishly love others and live life to the fullest. There are times when I feel like I could just burst with emotion, because of the deep feelings I feel.

The problem is that for the people in my life who don’t understand my personality, there is a tendency to believe that I am competing, trying to be the center of attention or even that my actions are born from insecurity.  For the people pleasing side of myself, this is the worst! I so often feel misunderstood and like I am not good enough. I want to explain why I do what I do, to convince them that this is not an effort to put myself on a pedestal, but that it is actually the personality that God knit into my very being.

But there are some things that can’t be explained and submitting is teaching me that this is okay. Because God does not judge by outward appearance (or by what He sees me do). Instead He judges the heart and so I can trust that if my heart motivation is to bring glory to Him, He will know this and it doesn’t matter what others perceive or assume about me.

The problem is that I can know this in my head, but I hate feeling the disconnect between friends. I love openness and authenticity, but my bruised heart has had to put up guards and boundaries that are completely contrary to my “I want to be best friends with everyone” personality.

Pinterest is one of my favorite social media outlets, because it inspires me and stirs my creative bent. For me, it is not about trying to compete with others or to impress them. It is all about giving an outlet to the creativity that wells up within me. When I get an idea or have a picture in my mind of what I want something to be, it becomes a launching pad for more and more ideas. Birthday parties are a natural opportunity for me to express this creativity and I am so grateful that my children appreciate my creativity. For those who look at Pinterest as a place that is about competing or one upping each other, they will not be able to understand the creatives in their life who simply love to create, because they are inspired and want to inspire others!

Being faithful to who God has made me to be means that I will continue to live with passion, to turn brownies into footballs, to decorate with balloons and streamers, to celebrate others with exuberance and to write in this blog. I’m pretty sure I will always struggle with wanting to please others and feeling upset when I feel a disconnect, but I have an audience of One. And He is the one who answers my heart question of impress or inspire.