I am Karla, a people-pleaser, selfish, and full of pride.
I grew up in a dysfunctional home. My parents separated when I was about eight years old. Back then, it was not a big deal with me because my set up did not change much, because as a child, I would always be in my grandmother’s house, or my aunt’s house, and very rarely at home.
I grew up as a shy, silent kid. I was content of being alone. I don’t have playmates my age in my grandmother’s place, so I either read or watch TV. Sometimes I would run around the compound all by myself, or play pretend all by myself. In my aunt’s house, I have cousins who were my age bracket. Yes, we would play, but I find myself different from them. Sometimes, I would think their play was too childish for me, or their concerns too unimportant than what’s in my mind. I liked the company of adults better.
With adults, I get different kinds of affirmation. From what I am like, to what I can become. I base who I am to what they say about me. I oftentimes pretend to be playing when in fact I was listening to what they’re saying about me. I act how they described me. I did so because I want to please them. I wanted to please everyone, if I can, especially those older than me. My self-worth was anchored on them being pleased with me and what I do.
I value what other people think so much that I hide my humiliation in silence, quick to wear the mask and pretend that everything’s okay. I dare not ask questions, nor voice out opinions to avoid people getting angry at me. One such instance was in elementary school. One friend was telling me how irritated she was towards someone who didn’t even know the story of the Good Samaritan. I quickly agreed with her, but deep down, I was quick to wear my mask so as to hide my ignorance. At that time, I, too, didn’t know who the good Samaritan was, or what he did to be considered good. Who is a Samaritan? I hid, so as not to see my weakness.
Growing up, I only hear people say good things about me. Therefore, I considered myself “good.” In fact, when I was nine and was asked to list down my sins for Confession (in preparation for the First Communion), I couldn’t think of any! I believed myself to be a good little girl. Shy, yes. But I have done nothing wrong towards others. I was the one who was always being teased, I was the one always wronged. I was as good as an “angel.”
As I grew up, my people-pleasing attitude grew into lots of insecurities. Because my family was very dysfunctional, I had nothing to offer the people around me. I had a very different background from those of my peers. My mom’s insecurities at that time spilled over me. Silence escalated to depression.
Many things happened since then. My very own Pandora’s box was opened. Many questions spilled. Potentials were tapped. I learned how to voice out what’s in my mind, and heart. I developed self-confidence and I learned how to lift the anchor of self-worth from people, to Jesus. I started to get to know Him with the help of other youths and my ates and kuyas in a youth ministry. I got involved in many different works, organized and attended several conferences, even shared my testimony to some.
I spent many years in this ministry. I was able to make friends, build relationships, and help improve the lives of others. My relationship with Jesus grew as well. However, as sincere I strive to be, I confess that there were times that my “people-pleaser attitude” will resurface. I went to this, I did that, to get affirmation. I sometimes valued people’s affirmation more than I should. I had an easier time building relationships with those people older than me, than with my peers or those whom I should have been guiding. At times like that, it was God who help me align my motives, and re-anchor my self-worth on Him.
In one conference, the parable of the prodigal son was expounded–as well as the sins this son has committed. At that time, I really felt I did not belong there for I haven’t really experienced being a prodigal son the way it was defined. I did not drink, smoke, party ’til morning, nor surf the net illicitly. I studied hard, had no boyfriend to distract me. I do, however, relate myself to the older brother. He was the sinner model who fit me. I identified with him more than the younger brother, mainly because of what he said, “Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him” (Luke 15:29-30). I remember telling some of my ates about this. I remember acknowledging that I was this kind of sinner. However, I cannot remember what I did with this realization. Whether I repented from it or not, my memory fails me.
On the other hand, God, knowing all these things in my heart, purified me. He knew my problem, and the sin in my heart, so He allowed certain things to happen. I experienced being that prodigal son. I did things I previously believed I would never do. Since I firmly believe that God causes everything (as in everything!) to work together for good for those who love Him (and I love Him dearly), I was able to see the big picture. I am grateful that I am that sinner who identifies with the prodigal son as well, because if not, I wouldn’t really have experienced the grace and love the Father offers me. It was when I returned that I was able to comprehend that it’s not what I’ve done but because of who He is; and that it’s not who I am but because of what He’s done for me. I was lost, now found, enjoying my fellowship with my Father. He fills me with joy and gives me peace. Because of Him, I am able to remove all masks of pretentiousness. It is because of Him I am able to love.
I may, from time to time, become that Karla who is “needy” for affirmation from my superiors, and so I pray that God would purify my motives–that I may be sincere in loving Him, and in serving Him; that I would always seek to please Him and Him alone, removing all others in the picture. I may also be able to get hold of one of my masks, and so I pray that God would give me strength to resist hiding in one.
I am Karla, a people-pleaser, selfish, and full of pride–a work in progress towards being only a God-pleaser, selfless and humble.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus… For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 1:6; 2:13