Child rearing can be tricky, even in the happiest of circumstances. Most of the tricky parts of raising kids are creations of our own doing. The same could be said of life in general, but a lot of my life at present involves children.

To commemorate your child’s birth, quite honestly the happiest of all occasions, it’s customary to throw a birthday party. A day to celebrate the fact that you’ve been blessed with one of God’s greatest gifts. And only we as humans could take something so wonderful and so beautiful and spend a full 24 hours, and sometimes even more, mucking it up. Every person who has ever laid eyes on your child must be invited. In preparation for the festivities, we try to select the perfect location, as well as the perfect snacks (sweet but healthy, nuts out of the question). It must be perfectly themed. Make sure the cake is a flavor that is enjoyable to everyone’s taste buds. And don’t forget presents! You must get the toy of your child’s dreams.

The day comes, and the stress is at its threshold. What began as an idea of a delightful time to celebrate the gift of your child’s life has crumbled into utter despair as you realize that Susie’s parents are allergic to the sun, Johnny can only have gluten-free snacks, Becky’s family is certain your theme is some form of cultural appropriation, and, although you had vanilla and chocolate cake available, the Smiths were quite disappointed that strawberry was unavailable. The icing on your strawberry-less cake? Your child has received seven carbon copies of the perfect present. How could a perfect party all go wrong?

This is a nightmare party for some, and this is life in general for so many others. Is it wrong to want to make everyone happy? No, not necessarily, but it is wrong to seek your own happiness through the happiness or the approval of others. It can’t be done. It will never be done. So why set yourself up for failure? Now, don’t stop serving others. We can indeed receive peace of mind with service, but the peace of mind comes from a right mind. A mind towards Christ, that’s the key.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
— Galatians 1:10

We were built to please. That’s why we seek it out so strongly. Like many areas of our nature, it’s all been muddled up and broken. But that’s not the end of the story. There is hope yet. We are broken, but then there came the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was not. The perfect example of what our true nature was always intended to be until we broke it, he came to fix, to heal, to serve, to please.

and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
— Luke 3:22

Through his death and resurrection, we are made whole again, with the opportunity to fulfill our nature and please the one true God. So don’t spend your days trying to please all men. Even Christ couldn’t accomplish that. But he knew that he didn’t need to, and he wants you to know that you don’t need to either. So enjoy your cake, hug your kid, serve others with love, and lighten your load. Pleasing others is heavy. Pleasing God is freeing.