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Essie Brown on the Backbone of Jesus

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

Essie Brown of Judah Christian School

God is a gentle God. But He isn’t just gentle. He is also strong. On April 13, immediately after Grace Garrison’s message on the gentleness of Jesus, Essie Brown spoke on the backbone of Jesus. Gentleness and firmness seem to be opposed, but Essie made clear how neither can be perfected in Jesus or us without the other. She shared what Jesus’s firmness is teaching her.

Here is what Essie said:

Jesus didn’t go around loving people just to make them happy. Jesus loved people with His whole heart. His love was complete. It was not just this soft love. He loved people with a passion. Sometimes He loved people with righteous anger. He didn’t let people walk all over Him or walk all over others. He stood up for others and put His foot down when He needed to. He challenged people out of love.

Now if Jesus was a people pleaser, He would be easily persuaded to stop His ministry and just be quiet for the rest of His life and die of natural causes. He would just sit around healing people and make houses, not disciples.

I personally struggle with pleasing people a lot. I used to think loving people was just making them happy. I thought, if I give them what they want, then I’m “showing love.” But the more I served people without boundaries, the more I thought that if I didn’t give people what they want, people would think I didn’t care. My time became doing things for others — not because I was serving them in love, but because I didn’t want to see people disappointed. I wanted to fix people’s problems; I wanted to fix their emotions and not let them feel it.

But I’d forget about my emotions. And I’d forget that loving people sometimes means not giving them what they want. And I’d forget that Jesus is the only one who can fix it. I wouldn’t stop people I love from doing something wrong because I was afraid that if I did that, I’d lose relationships. They’d walk away because I wasn’t pleasing them. And I’d be alone.

My struggle with pleasing people comes from my adoption. Deep down, I want my birth mom to be proud of me. The more I had that mindset, the more I felt like I needed to people-please so that people never had to feel what I felt. It has become something that consumes my time. Whenever someone needs something, I am prone to dropping everything that I need to help others. As the cycle goes on, I lose myself to help others, and I just become a therapist.

Learning about the anger of Jesus showed me what true love looks like. Jesus got angry when there was injustice, because He loved the people who were being mistreated. The more I saw of Jesus, the more I was convicted of the fact that I’m not actually loving people. I was convinced that I was, but in reality I was just pleasing people, because I was scared of them being unhappy with me.

As I had time to think about this, I realized that loving people actually means setting boundaries and, sometimes, correcting people out of love. It also means that I don’t stand for things I used to stand for. And I recognize when I need time for myself instead of dropping my life for others. I need to spend time with Jesus and let Him fix and grow me, or I’m not really helping anyone else.

I now have a backbone in Jesus. But that doesn’t mean I am completely changed. I still have work to do. I still have to speak to God daily and ask Him for strength to get through this. I work on talking to people with my full thoughts and feelings, not just speaking what I think will make them happy.

Without Jesus, there is no end to people-pleasing. With Him, I am learning to be free from the dance of trying to make everything perfect, from filtering every word, from the fear of rejection, from being blind to my own emotions — free from thinking I can fix people or problems that only Jesus can.

Jesus doesn’t have to try to make everything perfect; He is perfect. Jesus doesn’t have to filter every word; He is the Word. Jesus doesn’t fear rejection; He rejects no one who comes to Him. Jesus isn’t blind to His own emotions; He gives people sight to see things as they are. Jesus can fix and redeem any person or any problem there is. Jesus truly loves us, not just to make us happy, but to make us like Him. If we will let Jesus step in for us, He will be the forefront of our love.

Essie’s speech is a prime example of how student chaplains can use their testimonies to bring the Word of God to life in front of their peers. What Essie said was more than just commentary. It was a personal, relatable experience. This kind of message can make a huge difference in the hearts of Judah students. Hopefully, future student chaplains, following the example of Essie and others, will continue to influence hearts and minds at Judah by sharing their stories of Jesus.

— Caleb Yant, class of '23


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