The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.
— Proverbs 29:25 (ESV)
It is wrong for anyone to try to control us, but it is equally wrong for us to allow it. We must stand up for ourselves and be determined to please God rather than other people. My mother allowed my father to control her out of fear, and everyone in the family paid the price for her refusal to stand up for herself and us. Fear is a real thing, but it has no power over us except what we give it. Author and psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud says that we get what we tolerate.
The best thing is never to start a relationship by letting yourself be controlled and manipulated. But if you are already in that situation, it is not too late to stand up for yourself. It will be more difficult to do than it would have been had you established boundaries from the beginning of the relationship, but it can still be done. Let the person who is controlling you know that you realize you have been allowing them to control you and that you will no longer let it continue. They may react in an angry and even a violent manner, but in the end, they will respect you for it.
It is God’s will for us to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in order to do that, we will find that we must often say no to the demands of people. People who will only stay in relationship with you if they are allowed to control you don’t really love you. They are simply using you to help them get what they want. You deserve better than that and are far too valuable to let anyone abuse or misuse you.
If you have a history of not speaking up or just “going along to get along,” taking the first step toward freedom will be the most difficult. Satan is delighted to rob you of your God-ordained destiny, and he can easily do it through the fear of other people. The apostle Paul said that had he been trying to be popular with people, he would not have become an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ (see Gal. 1:10). Think seriously about that for a moment, and then take a look at your own life and make sure you are not missing God’s will by being overly concerned about keeping people happy.
We should want to please and make people happy, but not if the price of doing so is disobeying God. The Word of God tells us to follow peace and I want to strongly recommend that you begin doing that. Anyone who truly cares about you will want you to follow God even if it means you can’t give them what they want. God is always with you to help you do what you need to do.
Prayer Starter: Father, please help me live to please You, rather than the people in my life, amen.