If we’re honest, most of us want others to like us and this should come as no surprise, since God designed human beings to serve as a support system for one another. In Genesis 2:18-22 we read, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.”
The Apostle Paul also emphasized this principle telling us that, “…everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3-8)
The difficulty arises not when we need others or when they need us, but when we begin to allow that need (and all of the expectations, false or otherwise, which go along with it) to mold us into someone other than who we are. Colossians 3:3,4 tells us, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” As believers, our identity is no longer governed by the sins of our past, the labels which are slapped upon us by others, or even the grand expectations of well- meaning friends and colleagues, but by Who Christ is and what He did for us.
Colossians 3:2, tells us to, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” The truth is, only as we devote ourselves to those things which honor God will we begin to understand our new identity in Him. And only as we understand that identity, will we find the type of security which doesn’t require the affirmation of others. This is the key to handling “perceived pressure.”
Like anyone else, we have to choose who we do (or don’t) want to fit in with and make our choices accordingly. If we’re in with one group, we can be certain that will be out with others. That’s a normal human condition and there’s really nothing wrong with it. In fact, if you look over your list of friends, you’ll likely discover at least a few who don’t have a great deal in common with you. Are they always trying to pretend they come from the same background, enjoy the same movies, or like the same clothing styles? Probably not. And neither should you.
If you want to avoid caving in to “perceived pressure”, you have to begin with being comfortable with who you are. It’s that simple. And that hard.