One thing I can often struggle with is how much other people's false expectations can influence my life. You know, that little voice inside your head that tricks you into thinking it's your own conscience or good ideas, when in actual fact it's not. It's so easy to be living life and realise you are only living it to please others rather than living it to please the only One that really matters - God.
It is very easy to live your life trying to live up to other's false expectations, carrying around a heavy sack of "should's", and never actually getting around to being the "You" that you were created to be or doing the things you just know you are meant to be doing.
I'm blessed to have some really wise people in my life, and often it's been an honest and clear voice of theirs that has snapped me out of the trap of other people's expectations - whether it's doing a whole lot of 'things' that I think I really should do, or acting a certain way that I think I should act. Sometimes all I need to hear is, "who said that you 'should' do that?". Usually, I realise that it isn't something I feel I need to do, or even something I feel God wants me to do, it's that I'm carrying around a whole lot of "should's" that I perceive I'm meant to do from other people.
I've come to realise that there is only one me on this earth (everyone else is obviously taken), and I need to get myself organised and be the best me I was made by God to be.
When it comes to being me, I'm made a certain way. I have a distinct personality and I need to embrace the way God made me, and ask Him to help me become the best me there is. When I think about my friends, they are all completely different - and I'm so glad they are that way! I have my fun friends, my straight talking friends, my kind and caring friends, and each of them is valuable and so so precious in their uniqueness! You weren't created to be anyone else - so stop trying to be.
There are certain things I know I need to do with my life - I have family commitments, church commitments, community commitments and times when I just know God is asking me to do something specific. I need to make sure that I'm not letting those commitments slip because of the false expectations that others put on me - whether they are real or just perceived. I find I just have to make the decision to focus on the things I know I need to do or were called to do, and shake of the 'should's' that are dragging me away from doing what I know I need to do.
If you live your life through the lens of everyone else's expectations and should's, you won't actually be living life the way God intended it to be lived at all.
So, if I can encourage you in one thing at all, it would be to be the best you. Comparison is the thief of joy - stop comparing and copying and being weighed down with burdens that you weren't meant to carry, and start to discover who God made you to be, and make a determined effort to be the best you ever.
I'm not there yet - as I said before, this is something that I often struggle with. Here's to keeping it real, and making changes in our lives for the better.
As the saying goes, "be yourself, because an original is worth more than a copy".
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