We all have a certain rhythm of life, our own pattern for how we relate to people and do our work. It can become like a rut that we slide into without realizing it. Perhaps we say that we want to be more peaceful or loving, or more like Jesus, but our rhythm of life conflicts with that.

I’d like to share a part of my story with you because it may help you understand yourself, especially if you serve others in ministry or you are a mother!

Pleasing People Gets Exhausting!

Some years ago I realized that I was orbiting around other people: my rhythm of life was pleasing people, especially my family members. I would look to what they needed and care for them, I would find a need and fill it. I had it all justified theologically that I was loving people and doing it for Jesus, which had a lot of truth to it, but it wasn’t all true and it wasn’t all good. To a large extent, unconsciously I was trying to please people to secure myself so that I could feel okay. I was afraid and in orbiting around others I was hiding my true self.

God showed me this one day when I was on retreat and had I been challenged to go out and spend five hours alone in solitude and silence with Jesus. And I just remember not knowing how to be alone and quiet with Jesus for so long. I just started walking and praying. I decided to go to a creek that was nearby. As I was walking, I realized, I don’t even know what pace to walk! It felt so weird, because I was used to trying to walk really fast to keep up with Bill, with his long legs and strong body, or to walk slow and guide my kids along and watch out for them.

Here I was free of everybody else’s needs or wants or feelings, and I almost didn’t even know how to walk! I remember talking to Jesus and saying, “Jesus, I don’t even know how to be myself!” I just continued to walk and little-by-little I started to feel freer to set my own pace and enjoy walking and talking with Jesus.

The retreat was in the mountains and I began feeling the altitude a little bit, and the Holy Spirit drew to my mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 11: “Are you weary, are you tired, are you worn out? Come to me, and take my yoke upon me, and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart and there you will find rest for your soul.” (vss. 28-30)

Jesus Invites Us Into His Rhythms of Grace

And I started crying and arguing with Jesus, “No! What do you mean? Your yoke isn’t easy — it’s hard and heavy and I’m exhausted from trying to live to please you. I’m loving other people to serve you and it’s drained the life out of me.”

Then I sensed Jesus say to me, “Well, Kristi, you think my yoke is heavy because you think my yoke is like Dallas Willard’s yoke, or like your husband Bill’s yoke, and their yokes would be very heavy for you. Their yokes wouldn’t fit you. But I have a yoke that is perfectly fit to you, it’s perfectly sized to you. And if you’ll learn to trust Me, and keep company with Me, and walk with Me like you are, you’ll discover it is restful for your soul. I do have an easy yoke for you and a wonderful rest for your soul.”

As I thought about what the Lord was teaching me I realized that in my orbiting around other people I was equating pleasing people with loving them. They’re not the same thing! And if I’m orbiting around other people then I’m not orbiting around God!

Yes, Lord, we want to orient our whole lives around you, not trying to make people happy. Thank you Jesus that your yoke for each of us is easy, well-fitting, and light. It’s a rhythm of grace. Help us to trust that you are always patient and kind toward us. Help learn to walk freely and lightly with you. Amen.

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Our article, “Jesus’ Rhythm of Life” can help you get in step with Jesus and the Father.

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