Will You Still Like Me?: How to Beat People-Pleasing Fear

Jerusha Agen Fighting Fear 15 Comments

By Liz Tolsma

Jerusha: I am so honored to host best-selling author and friend, Liz Tolsma, on the FW Blog today! Liz is offering a free print copy of her prairie romance collection, Rails to Love, to one FW Blog reader! To enter the drawing, leave a comment below.

rejected-personMy greatest fear in life? Well, I have a ton of them. Flying. Driving on the interstate. Tornadoes. But the one that plagues me day in and day out is a fear of people. Namely, what if they don’t like me?

As a very shy and awkward tween, teen, and adult, meeting new people makes me sick to my stomach. Over the years, I’ve learned to put on a good face. But it’s not easy. If I’m introduced to someone I haven’t met before, my hands will shake and my palms will sweat.

Because I want them to like me. And I’m afraid they won’t.

That’s what drives people-pleasers. The fear of not pleasing their loved ones, their bosses, their friends, the strangers they meet. They work hard and always do their best because they are afraid of disappointing people.

Because if they do something wrong, if they fail at something, people might not like them. When I have people over to the house, even dear friends I know well and I’ve known for a long time, I’m pacing before they arrive, making sure each and every detail is just perfect. Because if they don’t like the food or find a speck of dirt, they may not like me.

What drives this? I’m not sure I can pinpoint it. Maybe it’s just the personality type. People pleasers are born that way. They figured out a long time ago that Mommy smiles when they do something good. They like that, so they keep it up. Maybe it’s a result of shyness. Or the cause of it. But when it comes right down to it, it’s because of sin.

It took me many, many years to learn that the only one I need to please is the Lord. That’s a work in progress.  I certainly haven’t arrived. The Lord keeps stretching me and sanctifying me day by day. What my parents, my neighbors, my friends, my readers, even my husband and kids think of me isn’t important. When I clean the house or cook a meal or write a book, it shouldn’t be so that they will like me for it.

approval-of-god-or-man-memeIt should be for the Lord’s glory.

And I can’t please the Lord perfectly. At least, not here on earth. Every day, I sin. I fail Him. He, of everyone, has the right to not like me. But He loves me. Oh, what should it matter if my friends don’t like me when the Almighty God loves me. Loves me enough to send His Son to die for me. That is stunning love.

You are God’s precious child. When you fail, when you sin, He covers you in his Son’s blood and loves you.

After that, what more do you need?

Do you fear people? What encourages you most when you’re afraid people won’t like you? Join the conversation in the comments below!

railstolove_coverCircus costume designer Ellen Meyers rides the rails from city to city with the troupe, but when mystery and suspicion fall on her, can her newfound love with trainmaster Will Jorgenson and their faith in God survive?

To buy The Rails to Love Collection:


Barnes & Noble


Liz Tolsma is giving away a free print copy of The Rails to Love Collection to one FW Blog reader who comments below! (Winner must have a U. S. address.)


Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels and prairie romance novellas. The Rails to Love collection released in October 2016. The Matchmaker Brides collection releases in February 2017, and her next WWII novel, The Melody of the Soul, is scheduled to release in April 2017.

Liz is a popular speaker and an editor. She has lived in Wisconsin most of her life and now resides next to a farm field with her husband and their two daughters. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family.

Please visit Liz at her blog, The Story behind the Story, at www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. She is also a regular contributor to the Pencildancer blog and the Midwest Almanac blog.

Comments 15

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  1. Librarian

    We read Snow on the Tulips in our book club and enjoyed it. I know the Rails to Love book would be quite popular, too. Thank you.

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  2. Marisa

    What a beautiful blog post, Liz. It was so nice meeting you and your niece at the ACFW conference last month. (Hope she’s doing well!) You have a genuine spirit that the Lord shines through–and I promise, as some new to meeting you face to face, it shows. You don’t need to worry about people pleasing anyone. Your sweet spirit does it well enough. =)

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    2. Liz Tolsma

      Aw, thanks, Marisa. You are a lovely woman too. And it was so great to meet you! Next time, we’ll have to sit down and chat. Thanks for asking about my niece. She’s doing great and getting ready to self-publish her first book.

  3. Beth Sanders

    Thanks for this post, Liz! Even though I enjoy meeting new people, getting to know them, and developing relationships with them, I still struggle with thoughts of worry that others may not think I’m good enough, smart enough, etc. (Perhaps this is due to a number of rejections I’ve experienced in the past.) But it was refreshing to be reminded that we don’t have to focus on “pleasing” anybody, as long as we are pleasing GOD, our Heavenly Father, Who loves us so much in spite of all our sin and imperfections!

    P.S. My family and I know your dad, Pastor Neil Tolsma, as he sometimes is a guest pastor at our church. He is such a sweet and caring person!

    1. Liz Tolsma

      Ah, yes, I recognize the name! Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad the post was encouraging for you. People-pleasing fear is really very common, I feel. Ed Welch wrote a great book on this that we used in Sunday school eons ago. It’s called When People Are Big and God Is Small.
      My dad will be at your church again on Sunday. Wish I could make it to meet all of you, but I have to play in ours.
      I read Katie’s story and would love the chance to chat with her about it and her writing. Can you have her email me through my website (www.liztolsma.com)?

      1. Beth Sanders

        Thanks for the book recommendation! I will have to check it out! And yes, I will be sure to tell Katie about emailing you. I’m sure she would love the chance to talk with you about her writing! 😉

  4. Kerry Johnson

    Hi Liz and Jerusha,

    I appreciate this post so much. Most of the time, I don’t feel weighed down by being a people pleaser (not as much as when I was younger, I should say). But every now and then, I’ll meet someone and we just won’t ‘hit it off’ or get along as well as I’d like, and I’ll struggle with that for a few days.

    I’ve learned to give the worry of them not liking/us not clicking (and the wondering why) over to the Lord. I also try to remember that we’re all uniquely created by God, and we just might not be best friends, or even get along with everyone–and that’s okay.

    Thanks so much for this post and the reminder that we live to please the Lord above all else.

    I’ve not read any of Liz’s books, but would sure love to win a copy.

    Thanks & God Bless!

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      Jerusha Agen

      Oh, yes, Kerry, even just not clicking with someone can lead to feeling like it’s your fault or there’s something wrong with you. But it sounds like you’ve gotten a good handle on your people-pleasing tendencies! Thanks for taking the time to join the conversation!

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