The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself.
-Rita Mae Brown

Eileen is one of those people that you either love or you hate, which means she's something of a prophet. Not the kind of prophet who can accurately predict the future, though she's done that on more than one occasion, much to the chagrin of her prophetic victims. Rather, Eileen is the kind of prophet who accurately sizes up a situation in your life by determining the hidden forces at work. And then, of all the nerve, she slams you with the truth about your life that you thought you had so carefully hidden. This would account for the love-hate thing; few people can stand on middle ground when she lets loose.

Well, I'm among those who love Eileen, partly because she has saved me from myself several times and partly because she's shorter than I am, which is about the only advantage you can have over her, but you take what you can get. After she got me to quit smoking and drinking myself to death, I figured we were cool. What was left? Plenty, and she unearthed it all, like this sickening need that I had to be liked by everyone.

Like many of her prophetic utterances, this one came as she was cutting my hair; I think she purposely saved up her heavy-hitting words for moments like that, when her victims were most vulnerable. We were chatting away, or so I thought, when I mentioned an incident at church with someone whose facial expression betrayed her obvious dislike for me. "What on earth did I do to her?" I asked-rhetorically, I thought. But no, Eileen shifted her weight, a sure sign that she had slipped into Jeremiah mode.

"Hurts to realize you're disliked, doesn't it?" she said, with more than a hint of sarcasm in her voice. If I hadn't been sitting down, and vulnerable to the mercy of scissors in the hands of an angry prophet at that, I would have imposed my full five-foot-three-height on her right there and then. But I sat, and she blasted. Who did I think I was? What made me think everyone should like me? Did I consider myself that special? Clearly, for some time, Eileen had been thinking about me and my pathetic need to be liked.

Conforming to the subtle psychological demands of any group will almost inevitably lead you to a place of self-loathing. You compromise so much of yourself and make so many accommodations to fit into the group that you end up a fraction of the person you once were. And you wonder how things got to be like this, how you arrived at a place where you feel disconnected and uncomfortable in your own skin.

Some people will simply never like you, for reasons you can't fathom and maybe they themselves don't even understand. Others will like you and love you and possibly adore you, and that's the group you will find yourself in once you stop jumping through ever higher and higher hoops to try to be likable. Finally, there's the vast majority of people you'll meet in your life, those who shrug you off and don't think one way or the other about you. Unless, of course, you're like Eileen.

We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.
Romans 3:22 (NLT)

Lord, keep me from being so concerned about whether people like me that I try to be someone I am not, someone You never made me to be.

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