Do you worry about what people think? When I was in my teens and early twenties, I was consumed with fear over what other people thought about me. We lived in a mobile home park, a nice one with rules about clutter and conditions of the homes. Yet, when I went to prom I cried (alone in my room) because he had to come pick me up, at my house. A trailer. In a trailer park. What did that mean about me?
In my earlier twenties, I went to the church we attend today three, maybe four Sundays but left before going in because I drove a rusted out, crappy Bronco and I didn't want people to think I was poor or needy.
So much fear, anxiety and needless worry about what other people thought. It was a prison that kept me from enjoying life and the wonderful things God had for me. Not material things but joy, peace, and rest.
It's been at least 10 years since the plague of other people's opinions left me. For the most part, I've grown up and left that behind. Yet, as we entered the final week of our transition to RV living, thoughts began to spring up like popcorn kernels over a hot fire.
“Will they think we couldn't afford our house?”
“What if the winter campground has a reputation for being dumpy?”
“Will this make us look ‘less than'?”
Whoa! Wait a minute! Where did that come from?
It took a few times for me to catch on to what was happening: Doubt, fear, and the need to please others were packing their bags. They saw the “for sale” sign. They watched the contents quickly empty from our home. They watched us let go of stuff we really didn't need and they didn't like it. They didn't want to be left out so they were trying to hitch a ride. Like the blob of snot from the Mucinex commercials, they thought they'd set up shop with me and live the good life.
Sorry guys, there's no room at the Inn. The RV is full and so is my heart – full of excitement, courage, and confidence because I know we're on the right track and God is leading the way. What other people think is not going to kill my peace.
A few days after this began I was cleaning out my desk and I found a piece of scrap paper where I'd scribbled a note of encouragement the Lord gave me years go. It read, “The positive opinions of others is not a prerequisite for your success.” Today I would add this, “When you're in convergence, walking in your lane of grace, their opinions are only noisy cymbals served as a distraction to keep you from where God is calling you.”
Confidence, Not Arrogance
There are two sides to this coin, though. On one hand, you must have confidence in what God has called you to do, therefore drowning out this idea that other people won't approve, or will laugh at you or think you'll fail. The reality is, no matter what you're doing, someone, somewhere won't like it or won't understand it.
On the other side of that coin is arrogance. The self-important, prideful stance that doesn't accept any outside input. This is dangerous territory as well. Seeking godly counsel and prayer partners is not about seeking their opinion, but God's. When we first approached friends about this idea we asked them to pray for us. They asked questions, gave us some insight and I know with confidence, they prayed for us.
When you're in transition, heading toward that which God has called you, having prayer partners is incredibly helpful. Their wisdom and insight will go a long way. What you don't need is the opinion of every person who knows your first name. You also don't need to entertain perceived opinions.
Winston Churchill once said, “When you're 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you're 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks when you're 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place”
Oh to grasp this concept early in life! Sometimes it isn't the opinions of others but the perceived opinions. We think they are thinking but they maybe don't care, or they admire what you're doing. You have to move past either one if you're going to thrive in the place God is calling you.
5 Ways to Stop Caring What People Think
#1 – Realize They Aren't On Your Level
This isn't about arrogance. If you're following God's call on your life your non-Christian friends are not to understand it and they may think you're crazy. The idea of laying down the old, the comfortable, the routine, is not one many people will get. Even other believers may not get you. All Jerusalem is in Israel, but not all Israel is in Jerusalem. You are on your journey, not them.
#2 – Find People On Your Level
Reach out to people who are where you want to be or who have made major life changes by following God. I am in several RV forums and Facebook groups with other full-timers. They aren't all Christians but they are an encouragement to me that this journey is not doable.
#3 – Dig Deeper With God
#4 – Recognize Perceived Opinions as Lies
The devil wants to distract you. Your thoughts are likely the first place he'll start. Are people really thinking negatively about you, or is the enemy setting you up to distract you from God's calling? Our thoughts are a battleground, don't let the enemy win. Sometimes it isn't what people think, its what you think.
#5 – Be Careful Who You Tell
The other day my son was in the woods and jumped a doe. He proceeded to tell everyone he saw that day. Most people didn't care, but it was so special to him that he saw a deer, by himself, in the woods. Nothing was squelching his excitement. When you're in the infancy stages of a transition or journey with God, use discretion in who you tell. Not everyone needs to know every leg of your journey.
#6 – Toughen Up
When you are met with ungodly opposition and opinion, don't be surprised. As you step outside the boxed called “Normal” you might as well expect people to be at odds with what you're doing. If your family is unsaved and you've found Christ, realize there is going to be some tension and friction.
#7 Learn To Set Boundaries
If the people in your life are over opinionated, negative, and detrimental to your journey then you must set boundaries: spiritual, emotional and physical. The well-being of you and your family depends on understanding healthy boundaries.
No matter if you're moving into your RV, recovering from a rocky past, or simply starting to follow Jesus, you must let go of what people think and draw into the One who thinks you are amazing!
Do you struggle with worry about what other people think?