Confessions of a people pleaser
Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” Ruth 2:11-12
I have been a blonde for over a decade. I’ve been committed to my blonde hair longer than I’ve known my husband, longer than I’ve been driving, and far longer than my career. So when I decided to try a shade closer to my natural hair color – a fairly dark brunette – I knew it would be a bit of a shock.
Within the first 24 hours of changing my hair color, I noticed something about myself. I like to think I don’t battle as much with people pleasing or vanity as I used to, but just change my hair color and give me a couple of negative reactions. All of a sudden, I’m a self-centered, image-focused, people-pleasing maniac again. (You know those kinds of thoughts: “Oh, you don’t like something about me? Let me bend to your every whim to try to make up for it. Please like me. Or I’ll cry. And eat ice cream.”) Oy.
Boaz’s observation of Ruth reveals a much different heart than the one mine defaults to in an uncomfortable situation. Ruth could have gone back to her hometown and looked for a new husband after her first husband passed away. She could have been primping and flirting and wondering who would take notice. Instead, she clung to her mother-in-law, followed her back to a foreign land and gathered scraps in a stranger’s field. She was anything but a self-focused, image-focused, people-pleasing maniac.
Boaz noticed these things, and said, “May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
I wonder what these words would look like if they were applied to my life and all of the thoughts/actions that have been about me lately. “May the Lord repay me for coloring my hair, buying new makeup, and spending an embarrassing amount of time trying to make this new look work for me. May I be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings I didn’t take refuge because I was too busy seeking external validation about my outward appearance.” Oh, okay. Double Oy.
Ruth has reminded me of 2 incredibly important things today: 1) If it’s not contributing to serving God and others, we need to be extremely careful about how much time and attention we give things in life, because 2) when we stand before God one day, He will not be interested in how we felt about ourselves or if others thought we were pretty (or smart or a great wife or an awesome mom or successful in my career or insert whatever it is). Instead, he’s concerned with our “inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:4) He’s concerned with our love for Him and our love for others.
Ruth got this. Do you?
~ Whitney Sewell
Father, Thank you for your Word and the way it reveals the thoughts and attitudes of my heart. As I study Ruth, show me where my thoughts and actions don’t honor you. Help me to follow Ruth’s example by seeking refuge, comfort and validation in You, and You alone. I love you. Amen.
Other Scriptures to study:
- 1 Peter 3:3-4
- Psalm 127:1
- Colossians 3:12-17
- Romans 8:31-39
- Psalm 146