“How heavy is this glass of water?”
“The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”
“The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Insecurity. Shame. Fear. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”
One of the reasons that we’re tackling this topic is so that break down the walls that divide us and put barriers up – that prevent us from having deeper, amazing relationships.
We need to put the glass down.
You are not meant to carry your shame. You are not meant to live in fear. You are not meant to live in insecurity.
Insecurity isn’t a sin, it’s a place for God to fill.
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22
I had to laugh this week, peter mentioned last week that often the topic the preacher speaks on becomes something they process and live through that week.
I almost rung him on Tuesday to say “no, I cant do this!” The topic this morning is insecurity and I had a serious case. But how would that look – “no I cant do this because I’m feeling insecure”
Insecurity could be defined as: Feeling of not being “good enough” to meet the challenge of a situation you face in life or a more general sense of not fitting in, being “out of sync” with those in your peer group, workmates or family.
One place I read said that it can be caused by: “lack of encouragement or support from important people in their lives, a set back in life, lack of direction, or being raised in an environment that is not conducive for learning and chaotic and thus leading them to be frequently on the edge.”
Insecurity builds a wall from the inside out. WE hold ourselves back from achieving the dreams God has placed within our hearts and we hold ourselves back from deeper authentic relationships.
The voices in my head tell me everything that I don’t like about myself, the remind me of my flaws and failings. Brick by brick. Insecurity receives its power from YOU though, from an internal place within us that AGREES and ACCEPTS the negativity, insults and put downs that come from within or come from the people around us. Insecurity will also filter everything as a negative. Brick by brick.
To help you see what those bricks may look like is I have a list that I have adapted from Kris Vallaton, that provides indicators of insecurity and on the flip side what it looks like to live IN SECURITY – to live confidently and with security.
- Spend a lot of their time comparing themselves to others.
- Fear strong, gifted people.
- Are only able to feel comfortable around people who need them.
- Need to control everyone in their world.
- Build cases against people in their minds to feel better about themselves.
- Take people’s compliments of others as an insult to themselves.
- Think “me” instead of “us.”
- Are overly self-conscious.
- Live in conflict all the time.
- Celebrate others.
- Are comfortable around gifted, powerful people.
- Love empowering people.
- Spend a lot of time thinking about the destiny of others.
- See themselves as a catalyst to the destiny of others.
- Love themselves and are comfortable with who they are.
- Are vulnerable about their weaknesses, flaws, and constraints.
- Enjoy seeing others honoured.
- Live in peace.
The first list divides but the second list creates unity and a life rich in authentic relationships. Let’s look a bit deeper at a few of these.
Comparison. The famous quote “comparison is the thief of joy” has been attributed to Mark Twain and a number of American presidents, but holds within it that thought comparing breeds feelings of envy, low-self confidence, and depression, as well as compromises our ability to trust others. Comparison will cause you to overestimate/over value what someone else has and underestimate/devalue what you have or vice versa.
Let’s face it: What people present to the outside world is usually an edited version of their reality. When someone asks you how you are doing, how often do you respond by saying, “my husband is driving me crazy, I’m feeling like a failure at work, and I’m just about ready to lose my mind”? Instead, you probably bite your tongue and say “things are really great!”
Recently an 18 year old Australian social media “star” with a following of half a million on Instagram, 200,000 subscribers on youtube and facebook and whatever else accounts, quit all social media. Before she said her final social media farewell she made a video, that yes, has gone viral, citing the manipulation of every image and every post, ranging from corporate kickbacks to be wearing x clothes or drinking x drink, to the lengths she went to get the perfect photo of her perfect abs. She is the epitome of what it means to live comparing yourself to others and says she was miserable and fake.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
Me focused. Insecurity says I need YOU to make me feel validated and important. It makes demands on people for their time and attention. It makes me the centre of the universe. Paul prayed in Philippians 2 “make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” How can we be of one mind, one heart, one spirit and one purpose with a whopping great wall of insecurity between us. Insecurity fights for the ME and the attention and the affection and validation and at the same time says I’m not worth it, who am I, I could never…. It holds us back from looking out for the interests of others because we so devalue our own worth and because we have a need for more.
Compare this to someone who is IN SECURITY – who is secure and confident.
Comfortable being themselves. Embrace who you are. Who God has wired you to be. When I was 19 I did a personality test with a bunch of other youth leaders and ……….. I had to learn to be comfortable in my own personality skin.
“Comparison says to God, ‘I want to limit Your work in my life to this and nothing else. I just want to be like this other person.’ Security recognises that God has an individual plan for each of us. His plan for you is greater than you could possibly imagine. Stop looking at His plans for others so you can walk in the plans He has for you and receive the blessings they bring.”
Team “us” focused – when you’re one mind, one heart, one spirit and one purpose you celebrate others, you empower others because their success and their wins doesn’t detract anything from who you are and what you do. Secure people let the walls down and choose to be authentic, knowing that together we’re stronger.
I know which list I want to write my name on!
Now you might think that insecurity is a modern problem but we can find lots of people in the Bible who were insecure and had walls up between both themselves and God and themselves and people because of it.
Gideon, least of the least tribe, or the least clan, of the least family, hiding out couldn’t believe it when God called him a mighty man of valour.
Timothy and Joshua both had to be reminded often to be strong and courageous.
Jeremiah freaked out because he was too young to be a prophet.
Moses’ first encounter with God is recorded in exodus 3. The way their meeting goes down should be extremely encouraging for anyone who has ever felt super ordinary and insignificant and feels that there are valid reasons to give permission for them to be insecure.
The setting is the far side of the desert. Some versions say the back side of the desert. Paints a picture doesn’t it.
Moses is tending sheep.
The sheep belong to Moses’ father in law. They’re not even his own sheep!
A bush catches on fire.
Moses walks over to look…
And God speaks.
Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” exodus 3
The Bible records in Exodus 3 and 4 Moses’ conversation with God when he was given the great commission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. In Exodus 4:1, Moses exhibits behavior insecurity when he asks God, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me…”
“Why is Moses feeling like that? It’s because he has a past,” There is an Exodus 2 chapter in Moses’s life.
Moses is shaking his head, ” Who am I, that I should be the one to do this?”
He doesn’t say it out loud but I bet he is thinking it….
I am murderer! That’s who I am! I’m on Egypt’s most wanted list! Insecurity told Moses that he was defined by what he did and the mistakes he had made. Yip murder is a biggie, but God’s grace covers everything. The blood of Jesus cancels every wrongdoing and makes you acceptable and righteous and secure. Don’t live in the shame and shadow of your past. Insecurity will tell you you’re a prisoner to your mistakes and that if people really knew who you were and what you did they wouldn’t really want to know you would they. But Jesus makes that argument null and void because He knows everything about you, every deed, every thought and He paid for it all and invites you to come close, no walls, no restrictions, no limitations.
I’m adopted, not even brought up by my real parents! Insecurity told Moses that even his very dna meant he didn’t measure up. Insecurity might tell us that the dna that makes us not very tall, or too tall, or not very sporty, or not very smart, or not very extroverted, or not very introverted, or not very whatever defines who we are and how successful we can be. Take who you are and get comfortable with it. Grow and learn. You are created on purpose with purpose!
I’m a nobody!
I’m a coward cause I ran! Ran right out of Egypt! Look what insecurity did to Moses’s relationships – he ran and hid. He put physical distance and massive walls up that shut people out of his life.
I tried to help once, but look how that went!
I’m a guy with a speech problem! Probably got my stuttering from my nerves! Insecurity magnified the circumstances Moses lived with and brick by brick stopped him from having authentic vulnerable relationships and connections. Why bother opening up if I cant even get the words out. You might not stutter but you devalue what you say and your perspective. The world needs YOU to speak up and speak out and share your perspective and insights. Knock those walls down!
I’m a failure! I was a prince but now I’m looking after my father in laws sheep! Insecurity holds us prisoner with our past but also wants to put us in stocks because of our present. Things didn’t work out the way you thought they would? You thought you’d be more successful by now? Marriage not like a life insurance commercial? Faced set backs? Not sure what to do next? God can turn whatever feels like a mess into a message. Don’t get stuck where you are today, this is not the end but God is always at work. Fear says your identity is at stake if you fail. It’s not. Your identity is set. Failure or success will not determine it. (Jon Acuff) – your identity is set – if you believe in Jesus and have declared that He is your Lord and Saviour, that He died on the cross to pay for your sin, to set you free and give you eternity in heaven, if you believe that He died and rose again and have given your life to Him, then you can have a heavensent security that is unshakable and unchanging. Your identity is set. Put the glass down.
Moses probably thought of his rap sheet and asked God – so, why me?
Insecurity can be defined as the awareness of the gap between who I want to be and who I am. Its that sense of being not good enough, of not measuring up. It asks the why me of God and why me of others.
But hear what God says – I will be with you.
It’s not what you can’t do, or what you’ve done, ….it’s what I can do!’ It’s who I am!
Look, the gap is real. There is for 99% of us a gap between who we are and who we are called to be. There is a gap between who we’d like people to see us as and between who we really are. We all live in that gap. But that gap doesn’t have to define our security status. You don’t have to have it all together to be loved by God and to belong to His family, universal and right here at The River. Having it together doesn’t ensure awesome relationships. Being authentic and real does. Love that covers does. A willingness to do life together, flaws and all. We can live in the gap, IN gap SECURITY.
In Numbers 13 and 14 we see the battle between insecurity and IN SECURITY played out with the Israelites and the Promised Land as we see a group of insecure people and two men who found their security in God.
A little bit of backstory – God had promised victory and blessing. He had used Moses to bring His people out of Eygpt and now they were on the doorstep of their destiny. They had seen His amazing miracles of deliverance. They were ready to step into the fulfilment of their dreams, a land of their own. But when the twelve spies returned, ten of the spies brought an insecure unconfident report.
The spies came back and said: We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them. Numbers 13:33
Note the wording there. We looked like grasshoppers in OUR OWN eyes. And so we looked the same to them. IN OUR OWN EYES.
Because the Israelites saw themselves as small, powerless, and insignificant they were then seen as small, powerless, insignificant grasshoppers by the people possessing the Promised Land.
It was the people’s insecure perception of themselves that limited their ability to take the land and have faith in God. It was the Israelites incorrect perception of themselves that hijacked the fulfilment of the call of God.
What do you see in YOUR OWN EYES?
Compare this to what Caleb and Joshua, the other two spies, said: We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.
Why did they have this confidence? Interesting to note that God says of them “my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly” Numbers 14:24
They had a different attitude and perception, not only of themselves but of the power of God to bring victory and fulfilment. At the core of so many of our issues and weaknesses is the fact that we do not see ourselves as God sees us. We do not understand and embrace our identity in Christ.
This is the simple solution for dealing to insecurity – it is to be IN SECURITY knowing that God is with us, for us and loves us and that He will complete the good work He has begun in us. IN SECURITY – in confidence – with no walls – comes from knowing who God says you are and who HE IS. He is the great I AM and when we find our value and our validation in Him we can be comfortable with who we are, we can be us focused and live with one mind, one heart, one purpose.
A different spirit will know that by grace you have been saved and set free, that your past is covered and that your mess can become a message.
A different spirit will empower you to have authentic relationships. To celebrate the wins in peoples lives. To see the best in yourself and others. To be real. To be of one mind, one heart, one purpose.
So, here are three questions we’d do well to ask ourselves when dealing with insecurity and its patterns of thinking.
Did someone actually say this or am I assuming they are thinking it?
If they actually said it, deal with it then. If I’m assuming it, that’s unfair to them and unnecessarily damaging to me. It’s the comparison trap. It’s the IN OUR OWN EYES. It’s the assumptions and the gap speaking.
What is God saying about me?
The more we read God’s truths and let truth fill our mind, the less time we’ll spend contemplating untruths. We need to hear what He says – as He said to Moses, I am with you. Every promise is for you. Not for the just the person next to you, but for you.
Are there situations or friendships that feed my insecurities?
We’ve got to hold our thoughts to a higher standard. Insecurity is a pattern of thoughts that pull us down and devalue us. Trace and face the negative thoughts you have about yourself and replace them with the truth of God. If there are unhealthy conversations or relationships that need good boundaries, not walls, then position yourself in a healthier environment.
Whose voice are you listening to?
Not only do we have the voices of those around us, and our own voice to contend with but we have an enemy who Revelation says stands before the throne of God accusing us day and night. He whispers to us “who do you think you are?” just as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. His mission is to enhance your insecurity, to magnify negative thoughts and to add bricks to the wall. His worst fear is us living completely sold out to God, surrendered to the Holy Spirit and living in unity to change the world.
Today, God invites you to come and be free. To knock down the walls of insecurity. He invites you to come and hear HIS voice and to get His perspective, so you can no longer think of yourself in your own eyes but to think of yourself through HIS eyes.