It's taken me a while.
But I think I've finally figured it out - maybe.
Here's the *big* question:
What's wrong with trying to please people?
1. When I try to "make people happy" - i.e., to get them to be pleased WITH ME and to want to be my friends - in other words, when the actions I take are really self-serving (aka selfish) . . . that's bad.
The bad people-pleasing usually takes a lot of effort, is usually somewhat exhausting, and ALWAYS requires doing something "nice" that is also either fake or contrived.
Example: I wear skirts. Partly because I like them and partly because it's what I think God wants me to do. But what if I wore them because I know people who believe that way, and because I wanted those people to think well of me? What if the only reason I wore skirts was to earn other people's good opinions of myself?
An example of something bad I actually do to "please people": When I feel like someone's mad at me, I tend to rack my brain for some reason why they might be mad and then to apologize for whatever I did/said that I think they're mad about. Which tends to backfire and to only result in their being scared to death of spending time with such an awkward person!
Something else I tend to do: If someone seems scared to talk to me, I tend to try to think of a pleasant conversation to have with them in order to change their minds into thinking they can afford to be my friend again. Which, tends to backfire, too! :)
But please don't be afraid to talk to me! I'm really tryin' to do better about this! Yes, those sentences was probably yet another example of the negative kind of people-pleasing. In fact, a big part of why I included any (both) these examples of stuff I actually do was because I thought it necessary in order to please people, because I felt like I had to include these examples in order to keep people from being mad at me for writing this post, to keep them from thinking that this post is about me passing some kind of judgment on them - which it's not.
I'm trying to say that this is a struggle for me - which should be absolutely obvious after that paragraph of people-pleasing (which may well have been the bad kind - I don't know; and for the sake of this post, I'm not even gonna worry about it).
2. However, when my efforts to please other people are truly God-motivated and others-focused - in other words, when I'm forgetting myself in real Christian love - i.e., when it's actually about pleasing THEM instead of getting them happy with ME . . . isn't that 1 Corinthians 13? Which is good, right?
Example: What if I notice some older homeless man looking lonely and depressed. What if I think I sense God leading me to talk to him, to try to get him laughing about something? What if I notice - but ignore - all the weird looks my friends give me? (All the looks that say, "Why are you talking to him?") What if all I'm thinking about is, honestly, what I can do to be a blessing to this guy? And what if I succeed in getting the guy to laugh?
Yes, that actually happened a few weeks ago. . . .