It’s been a long time, and I’ve benefited greatly from a much-needed hiatus. For the record, I’ve been intending to write again for a long while, as it is such a joy of mine, but I think finding my blogging-groove here in Pennsylvania has taken longer than anticipated. I’m still not sure I’ll be back to posting new content each and every Thursday as in olden days, but that’s my hope — and I appreciate your patience and support in the process!
If you’re new to following my blog, let me start by saying I usually make really bizarre first impressions with people. So if you’re okay with it, I’d feel better if we skip the formalities (I can’t stand small talk) and jump right into the content.
Such a horrid word. None of us likes to admit we understand the weight of this word, but probably each of us does.
A quick Google search yields that most men and women struggle with insecurity over romantic appeal (e.g., “Am I beautiful enough for him?” “Will she think I make enough money?” “Does he still find me attractive after all these years?”), but certainly insecurity can lurch far beyond the romantic arena. I have heard that some people are so insecure in their own identity that it can be bothersome to face oneself in the mirror. Maybe this is you, dear reader.
Let me present to you that perhaps insecurity is really just misplaced security. It’s easy (and maybe inevitable) to lose a sense of feeling confident and secure when you have put all your chips in on something wobbly to begin with.
In fact, I think insecurity reveals that we have built some part of our identity on something other than Jesus.
Eugene Peterson says in his Message translation of Matthew 7:24 and following, “These words I (Jesus) speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit — but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
“But if you just use My words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”
To provide a little context, this powerful snippet concludes what is arguably Jesus’ most famous teaching, what we have come to un-cleverly title “The Sermon on the Mount,” taking place in Matthew 5-7. This sermon ranges in teaching from a model for effective prayer with results to our mission on the earth (to be salt and light), from loving our enemies to divorce & remarriage, and more. And Jesus finishes this paradigm-shifting message by proclaiming that if we build our lives on these words, we will find stability in even the most tumultuous of seasons.
Friends, without drawing this out, let me ask: Is your identity built on the validation of someone else? Is your joy founded in receiving the reaction from a loved one that you were hoping for? Is your worth knit into your salary, or at least being able to keep up financially with so-and-so?
Basically, is any part of your worth built on something besides Jesus?
If so, then you struggle with an insecurity. You must, because people change and situations change and seasons change and you change. Shifting sand. Even when we build our lives on a really valuable and sturdy person or ideal, at best we will still consistently struggle to find solid footing. And as we all know, lack of solid footing leads all too often to depression, paranoia, emotional instability, regret, physical sickness, fear, and even suicidal tendencies.
Instead, I encourage each of us to build our lives on Jesus. He is a firm, solid Rock during the rainy season. He is like unshakable concrete, while every other option is lethal quicksand.
To make this practical — and because we all love lists, don’t we — I figured I would help shed some light on whether you have or haven’t built some part of your identity on something besides Jesus. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may be building your identity on shifting sand.
- Am I uncomfortable spending time by myself?
- Do I often negatively compare myself to others?
- Was there a particular person or situation coming to mind as I read this blog post?
- If I’m honest, do I think I am ugly and oftentimes stupid?
- Am I usually paranoid?
- When I don’t receive the thanks I was expecting, does it negatively affect the rest of my day/week?
- Am I often stressed out or fearful over my future?
- Do I feel the need to obtain someone else’s permission before I make even small decisions?
- Do I usually feel like I don’t contribute meaningfully to conversation, or that I usually end up saying stupid things?
- Am I often obsessed with wondering what people think about me?
Again, if you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be building your life on something other than Jesus. If so, I have written a declarative prayer here that may be a resource for you in overcoming insecurity.
Dear Jesus, I declare that You are my foundation. I declare that my worth is not dependent on what people say about me or what people think about me. My value is not built on a relationship. My identity is not even built on the way I view myself. My worth, my value, and my identity are built on You, Jesus. I cannot afford to think a thought about myself that You don’t think about me. I declare that because my life is built on You my Rock, I am free from depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and I am empowered to live with a God-perspective. I declare that I am healthy, complete, and confident in Jesus, in every way. Thank You for renewing my mind, Holy Spirit, and for enabling me to be a victor, in Jesus’ Name!
And with that, although it may be excruciatingly difficult, take a step away from the quicksand. Pick up your hammer and your nails and begin building your life on Jesus. Don’t underestimate the radical power of prayer as you begin this process, and practice being aware of the friendly and faithful Holy Spirit ministering to you in your times of need.
My heart to yours,