Our church attendance so far in 2014 has been abysmal.
Blame it on volleyball tournaments, lacrosse, Florence/Sunriver/Dallas weekends, and sickness (including migraines). In fact, the one time I was hoping to make it most recently, I woke up hurting big time and was so mad that Satan got that victory. (But, on the other hand, what a cool feeling to want to go to church so much that I’m angry when I can’t).
So, the opportunity to be at church this morning was something I was excited about. And, man, was I not disappointed. Worship touched my heart. Encounters with people were meaningful. But, the message – yeah, the message was what really hit home.
Pastor Ben has been going through the book of John – very methodically – and addressed John 14 with the title “God With’in’ Us”.
He started out by giving the definition of “Imposter Syndrome: A collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in the face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence”. Are there circumstances in which you can relate to this? I know it rings true to me in multiple circumstances.
The bottom line of his message was that “Jesus offers us freedom from our deepest fears and insecurities so that we can love as he loves…and he fully expects us to do so!”
In his conclusion, Ben made it clear that by recognizing that we have the very same resources that Jesus had when he walked on earth in accessing the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-27), we have no excuse to say we CAN’T love like Jesus – rather the question should be, “Am I willing to TRUST in Christ enough to overcome my own insecurities (issues) so that I can CHOOSE to love like Jesus?” I am way over-simplifying it – there’s so much meat I’m leaving out, definitely worth a listen.
What really stood out to me, though, was the timing of this message (not to mention the “ah ha” moments) as I’ve experienced a very real and tangible awareness of this insecurity this week. And, I’ve debated about putting it on my blog, but it was just too personal to really consider doing it. And, then this was the message – and I knew God was saying, “Yeah, if you want to see me ‘make good’ out of this mess you’ve found yourself in, I want you to share about it.”
I felt a zit coming on last week and instead of patiently waiting like I know better to do, I attacked it. And, consequently created a much bigger mess than I needed to out of my chin. We’re talking “Crater Lake” scenario here. And, “fixing it” became my obsession. Which, of course, hasn’t fixed a thing. It’s just made it worse. And, the thing has become my nemesis.
Now, to back up, I’ve always got face issues going on. I was one of those kids that wasn’t plagued in high school, but once the wrinkles began emerging so did the stuff usually reserved for teens – how lucky am I? So, it’s not like blemishes are an unusual scenario for me – I’m always dealing with something. It took me forever to book a facial with my TNL girlfriend Suzie, because the idea of her taking a big ol’ blinding light to my imperfections was mortifying.
However, something of this proportion took things to a whole new level. Like get out the puddy knife level. It’s become my secret shame. Who does this to her own face? Who would leave the house looking like this? Who thinks they are hiding anything with that kind of make-up job? Fortunately, I didn’t really have to see people until the latter half of the week. Had I left it alone, I would have been okay. But, no. I. Couldn’t. Ignore. The. Temptation. So, I met up with the gals on Thursday night. I hung out with Kenjon. I met Julie’s boyfriend and chatted away with Julie. And, for much more of that time than I have any desire to admit, I dwelled on what they must be thinking when they were looking at me.
And, on one of those evenings as I hit my pillow, it hit me. This must be just a tiny taste of what it feels like to live life with a secret shame. How, even when you try your hardest, you can’t escape the feelings of insecurity and feeling like the only thing the other person sees when they look at you is that present or former sin. I’ll admit, it seems like as the revelation of God’s grace has become clearer and clearer to me, the more I’ve felt like it’s not fair when folks assume others are judging and seem to clam up and hide – because we’re all junky and do stupid things – so why feel like your garbage is any worse than mine? But, there’s more to it than knowing that. There’s the twisted self-centeredness of shame and insecurity and fears that make thinking rationally so difficult.
On Thursday night, the horror of all horrors actually occurred. Despite every attempt to blot and cover-up, one of the gals noticed I’d gotten something on my chin soon after I arrived at the table. I laughed and said, “oh, that’s just a zit” – but, Mikayla quickly alerted me that it was bleeding. (I can’t believe I’m actually typing this). Oh sheesh. But, then, you know what? The elephant in the room (or crater in my case) was exposed. And, I lived. And, I made fun of it and then we dismissed it. And, they became safe and I forgot about it. Something deep to consider there.
So, that’s been my own personal teaching on insecurities. A re-reminder on how damaging a personal shame or fear can be because it becomes ALL-CONSUMING and you literally lose your ability to love like you are capable of. Or listen. Or even be in a better mood.
I will end this confession post with another of Ben’s key message points. “In order for us to love as Jesus loves, we must deal with our insecurities. Jesus probes and exposes our insecurities, in order to teach us to trust him” - telling us “not to sweat our failure, but rather learn from our failures in order to trust more deeply”. Good insight – even when it applies to zits…