Tag Archives: insecurity

Speaking Up Even When You’re Afraid

Sometimes in life we feel compelled to do difficult things. And by difficult, I mean something we don’t want to do. Something we resist Speaking Up Even When You're Afraiddoing because it goes against our nature, our personality, or our level of comfort. But deep inside, we know we should do it…we must do it.

This difficult thing can be asking for a raise, quitting a job, ending a relationship, pursuing a relationship, standing up to an authority figure, addressing an issue, or simply telling someone the truth.

Most of the challenges we face of this nature have to do with confrontation. Most of us aren’t predisposed to confronting others. It can be intimidating in many respects, but particularly because of the uncertainty. We don’t know how the other party will react. We don’t know how we will react to their reaction. We’re not sure what to say or how to go about it. And ultimately, we fear the worse consequences — rejection, loneliness, embarrassment, or failure.

Honestly, all the aforementioned phobias are possible. But there is a greater consequence than rejection — regret.

What if we do nothing? What if we keep things status quo and don’t rock the boat? Life will go on, but we’ll be uncomfortable. We’ll wonder “what if?” We’ll be weighed down with regret.

In 1 Samuel 3, young Samuel is faced with a similar situation. He’s being raised and trained by his mentor, the high priest Eli, and staying in the tabernacle with him. Samuel hears the voice of God one night — a rare occasion during those times — and God tells him that Eli and all his family are going to be killed because of their sins. Whoa. Try going back to sleep after hearing that. The Bible says the next morning Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision he had (obviously). Imagine what was going through Samuel’s mind: He’s only 12 years old and he has to tell this man who is like his father that he and his family will be wiped out. And you thought you were facing a difficult situation.

After Eli implores (and nearly threatens) him, Samuel reveals the prophecy. Eli doesn’t get angry, he simply replies: “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him” (1 Sam. 3:18).

If God is pressing you to do something or say something that is difficult, I’d go out on a limb and say it’s for the best. He already knows the result and how the other person/persons will respond. It may be rejection or it may be acceptance, either way, it’s not your responsibility. You can’t control others’ reactions; you control your obedience. One simple yet difficult step of courage and confrontation may open the door to your destiny. It did for Samuel. A frightened, preteen boy got the nerve to speak up, prophesying for the first time, and went on to be the first major prophet of Israel.

Is there something God is nudging you to do that you’re scared of? Is there someone you need to confront? Embrace the uncertainty and move forward in faith. No matter what happens, God has your back.

Do you like this? Share it

Your Past has a Purpose

By Kevin Howell

The Past
photo by kusito via compfight creative commons

Your past has a purpose.

I know we’ve been told to move on from the past in order to grow, and even a certain R&B singer hates it when we bring up the past, but what we’ve been through shouldn’t be forgotten or hidden.

The Apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy that God shows him off as proof of His mercy and patience to those who have yet to trust Him.

His past had a purpose.

As wrong and forgettable as it was, his past pointed to a beautiful attribute of God. Your past and mine are no different.

If you’ve been around the church, you’re familiar with hearing testimonies of what God has done in people’s lives. You may have even shared your testimony with a friend, relative or co-worker in hopes of changing their lives.

But that doesn’t come easily for everyone. Some of us don’t freely and confidently share our past. No matter how much we’ve changed, no matter how much we’ve grown in God, it’s still difficult to reveal our “past life.”

The primary culprit is shame. We’re ashamed of what we used to do and who we used to be. That’s understandable. But if we keep letting shame of the past impede us from sharing our lives in the present, it not only hinders our growth, but also the growth of others.

OVERCOMING SHAME

If anyone had a shameful past it was the Apostle Paul. His mission was to persecute Christians, throw them in prison, and rid Israel of what he considered heresy. I’m sure along the way he may have cursed Jesus and His followers. He was anti-Christ in many ways.

After his dramatic conversion, Paul probably felt a sense of guilt. And even when God called him to share the Gospel, he felt inadequate, unqualified, and unworthy because of the shame of his past. Yet, he recognized Jesus made him adequate for the work, and “grace mixed with faith and love” cleared the shame that hindered him from ministry.

His testimony became his greatest tool in ministry. He realized his past was not about his mistakes but about God’s character. Paul’s past is evidence of God’s “endless patience to those who are right on the edge of trusting God forever” (1Timothy 1:16).

Paul began to freely share his testimony because it could help others who felt shame. Those who felt they weren’t good enough for God. Your past can do the same. It can help those who think they need to get their lives together before they can go to church. Those who think they’ve done too much to be forgiven and accepted by God.

SECURE TO SHARE

We carry shame of the past because we haven’t given it to God. Either we haven’t fully accepted His forgiveness because we haven’t forgiven ourselves, or we still feel the sting of past hurt so we can’t bear to bring it up.

Security in our relationship with God buries shame. It gives us confidence in His forgiveness. It helps us find a redemptive value in our past. Once we do, the past no longer becomes shameful, but useful.

God has made us adequate. Adequate and strong enough to share our past without fear. Our past, no matter how bad or hurtful, doesn’t hinder our purpose, it empowers it. So go ahead and bring up the past. It points to God’s redemptive work and will help set someone free.

Kevin is the founder and editor of Transparency Magazine, and yes, he used the Shaliek song as partial inspiration for this article.

Get Transparency articles delivered to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter here.

 

Do you like this? Share it

Re-discovering God in the Night Sky

By Mel Dugan

night sky
by Viera8 deviantart.com

There comes a time when all of us think about God and love and what that means to us. It can happen at any point in our lives, and no doubt we’ll revisit and revisit our thinking. You may have had scripture or religious classes at school or been a child that attended Sunday school. Or maybe not, and these questions about God came as you got older.

I have never been a religious girl, but a recent trip out into the bush gave me a perspective on God and love that was incredibly comforting. Stepping away from the fast pace of life and all the technology at work that keeps our brains busy rather than reflective was such a welcome change and one I loved so much, I will make it a yearly priority. I don’t want to make big changes in my life because I love it the way it is. I love that technology helps me explore and learn about the world and keeps me in touch with friends and family from around the globe. I love the hustle and bustle that is my family life, but I do recognize the need to have a break and get into a more reflective state which allows me to stop and see the world and think about my place in it.

FINDING MY PLACE IN A BIG WORLD

Some friends and I recently went for a three-week walking trip in the bush, which was fabulous but also interesting. While I love my friends, I had a deep yearning for some space of my own as the trip went on, and I found myself using the quiet of the night to just be by myself. Surprisingly, I realized the dark and quiet of the night actually ended up helping me feel safe in a very big and sometimes scary world. I just couldn’t take my eyes from our vast sky with all the beautiful stars and planets that shone so calmly and brightly all night. I was lucky enough to see it in its full beauty as the moon was waning and the sky was blacker than black, which I just loved as all the stars twinkled and danced. They made me so happy because as I thought about all the things that scare me about this world, somehow the night sky deeply comforted me and made me feel, and actually know, that I am a little person but part of something so big and beautiful. The world suddenly just looked so wonderful and I felt happy, like really happy.

I loved that I knew every day I would be going back to the night sky come evening. The problems that may have plagued me during the day would somehow feel more manageable at night. This to me felt like the closest I will ever know about God and love for others. It felt like God represents love — calm, safe and all the beautiful, cooperative things in life. It was such a strong feeling for me and I just loved so much learning more about the world and my place in it.

The interesting thing for me was that I wasn’t expecting this lovely find. I didn’t know that the night sky would represent this for me. I would love it if others felt it too. We humans are so lucky if we get these moments where we can feel part of the physical world. I loved feeling so small with the night sky being so vast and so perfect. I continue to feel so lucky and I will never forget this trip. I will carry my new-found comfort in my heart, forever.

Mel has always been a dreamer and her trips in the bush allow her hopes and dreams and love for our world to flourish. She loves reading about God in different manifestations and how His word is brought into everyone’s lives differently – religiously or not.

Do you like this? Share it

Why You Must Believe in Yourself

confidence

By Kevin Howell

I learned a long time ago in athletics, the most important part of excelling in competition is confidence. If you believe in yourself, you’ll perform optimally. Will you always win? Not necessarily, but you’ll be tough to beat.

I know this to be true because that’s what I lacked in my athletic career. I had decent athleticism, knowledge of the game, and probably as good a work ethic as anyone, but mentally there was a barrier. I believed in myself to an extent. The lack of confidence made the difference–well, that and the fact I was only 5-foot-5 and not terribly fast either.

But what’s true in athletics is also true in life. Confidence is key in getting the girl, nailing the interview, and getting the upper-hand in the negotiation for the used car. If you believe in yourself, you’ve halfway conquered the challenge.

However, it’s not easy applying this same principle in our walk with Christ. Most of us have been taught to put no confidence in ourselves. To rely on God and not our own ability. Though that’s true, there’s more to it. We definitely shouldn’t rely on our own ability, but we shouldn’t dismiss it totally either. Whatever skills, knowledge, talent, and ability you have was granted by your Creator. So you don’t abandon those abilities, you just surrender them to Him. If you’ve earned your PhD, you don’t come to Christ and dumb down your knowledge, you just utilize what you’ve learned for God’s glory. Paul used his heritage, Roman citizenship, knowledge of Jewish laws and Roman culture to teach the Gospel. It’s about having confidence in the ability God has put in you.

But sometimes, spiritually, I revert back to that insecure mind-set I had as an athlete. Walking by faith gets hard, and I’m not sure I can do what He’s called me to do. I get weary of fighting the good fight of faith. And I keep messing up and disappointing Him — and myself — in certain areas. The confidence is lacking. Yet, I’m reminded of one of my favorite scriptures: “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

It’s about knowing God has done something in me, and He is continuing to do it in me. It’s knowing He’s called me, and that’s enough to boost my confidence and strengthen my faith. All we really need is one person to believe in us in order to get a boost. A dad saying “you can do it,” pushes his son to excel. One encouraging word from a coach pushes an athlete to compete. Your wife, husband, best friend or supervisor saying they believe in you is enough to drive you and keep you going. God does this continually through scripture. He’s constantly reminding us that He’s provided all we need to live and fulfill the calling on our lives.

In John 21, after His resurrection, Jesus is chilling with His disciples having breakfast by the sea after they had gone fishing. Out of nowhere, He asks Peter: “Do you love Me?” And after Peter says “yes,” Jesus tells him, “Feed My sheep.” Jesus does this three times, consecutively, in the conversation, at one point asking Peter: “Do you love Me more than these?” I always thought Jesus was asking whether Peter loved Him more than he loved the other disciples. But, as I heard someone point out, the word “fish” is used like 50 times in that chapter. So in the context, Jesus was asking Peter if he loved Him more than fishing. Did he love Him enough to not go back to being a fisherman, but to follow his calling to feed His sheep (preach the Gospel).

Jesus was telling Peter He believed in him. He entrusted him with a vital calling. I can almost see Jesus saying through His eyes: “Come on, Peter, you can do this. I believe in you. Don’t go back to fishing. Follow me.” When it’s easier for you to give up. When it’s easier for you to doubt yourself. Remember, He’s invested in you. He believes in you. Be confident in what He’s done and is doing in you.

Do you like this? Share it

Safe from Insecurity

safety

By Kevin Howell

It happened again. I wasn’t expecting it — you really can’t plan for these moments — it just sort of naturally happened. There I was, at a reorganization meeting at work, as new roles were assigned and discussed, I was waiting, hoping for my name to be mentioned…  just something so everyone in the room, especially those who didn’t know me, would all be notified that I was important, and that I play a key role at this place. For some reason, the fact that I am a key part of the operation, and my own awareness of that, isn’t enough. It never is. I needed everyone else to know, too.

I really don’t know what’s at the heart of my insecurity, whether it’s lack of confidence, pride, fear, or a combination of all three. Either way, it seems to get the best of me more times than not. It rears its ugly head in almost every area of life: sometimes at home, the gym, work, church — you name it. It’s like a weight of self-consciousness leaps on my shoulders when I’m around others. I feel the need to perform, or ponder what they may think of me. When the truth is, they probably aren’t thinking of me. There are times when I’m free from this behavior. It’s when I feel most free and natural. I’m just doing, not thinking. Call it the art of being me.

Pete Carroll explained it best in his book Win Forever. He used a sports example saying that athletes perform their best when they aren’t worried about the consequences, or concerned about failing. When they play with a “quieted mind” they can do amazing things. Their conscience isn’t clouded with scenarios or worries, so they can just go play, just like they did as kids in the park. It’s their natural state. It’s ours too. God did not create us to be preoccupied with appearance, performance, or impressing others. Think about it: He made Adam and Eve so free they didn’t even know they were naked. Talk about being secure with yourself.

The Bible talks about having the abundant life, which is a life of freedom. I came across a tweet recently that described the abundant life as living with “nothing to prove, nothing to hide, nothing to lose.” I had to retweet it because it was so powerful to me. It was freeing. Most of my insecurity is wrapped up in those three areas: out to prove myself, hide my shame, and fear of failure and rejection. It’s one of the greatest lies of the enemy because all those areas have already been settled in the redemptive work of Christ. I have nothing to prove because I’ve been approved. I have nothing to hide because any sin has been cleansed, any failure has been forgiven, and any weakness has been wrapped up in grace. I have nothing to lose because my identity has already been lost in Christ.

It’s funny the things we concern ourselves with in this life. We’re preoccupied with matters that carry little weight in eternity. I imagine the residents of Heaven look at us shaking their heads at our insecurities and the images we labor to protect and project. Author Don Miller put it best when he said that when we get to Heaven, we’ll realize that we were always safe. It’s a safety that God planned for us when He decided to create us. A safety He purchased for us when He sent His Son to the cross. It’s a safety we have now, not one we have to wait for in the next life. It’s a security that He deposited inside of you, me, all of His children. There’s no need to be concerned with what others think of you when you know who created you.

– live with nothing to prove, nothing to hide, nothing to lose.

 

You can connect with Kevin and Transparency Magazine on Twitter: @transparencymag

Do you like this? Share it