I had a conversation with someone the other day that launched me into this crazy train of thought. This person is unbelievably awesome, but insecurity has infiltrated the way that they live and see themselves. Now I could say that this person used to be me (and it was) and you all would be like "Whoa, crazy writing technique where she described someone else and was like psych it's her." But, that's not exactly where I'm going, so calm down. This was an actually different person then me and you know, I bet some of you are reading this and are saying that it applies to you, or your best friend, or your parents, or your sibling, or whatever. I think it's safe to say that we all know someone who struggles with insecurity.
I was praying for this person and The Parable of the Sower popped into my head, so I read it. But, this time I read it from my old perspective. My old perspective of self-doubt, relational validation, and radical insecurity. Now the parable can be found in Matthew 13, and Mark 4, and Luke 8, yes it's popular. If you don't know it I definitely encourage you to read it, but essentially it's about a farmer who is sowing seeds in his garden and it describes the fate of the seeds in different environments: the path, rocky places, thorns, and good soil. Jesus uses it for a metaphor of how people in this world will react to the Gospel message. It's a beautiful message, full of hard truth. But you see I used to read it like this (putting myself in as the farmer sowing the seed, spreading the Gospel). When the seed fell on the path and the birds ate it, I would say, "how stupid! I threw the seed too far (I tried too hard to get these people to convert) and now look what I've done. How pathetic am I?" When the seed fell on the rocky places I would say, "how lazy! I didn't take the time to lift each one of these stones and make a good soil patch (devoted more time and efforts to these people's problems) for these seeds to grow. How selfish am I?" When the seed fell among the thorns I would say, "Where was I to protect them from all these thorns (hardships in life). What a terrible person am I?" And when the seeds fell on the good soil and took root I wouldn't even notice because I was so fixed on my failure OR I would take it as my "month fix" of the good-Christian high until it all faded and I felt like crap about myself all over again.
It doesn't have to be that extreme though. Think about it, how many times have we beat ourselves over the head because we tried too hard and we turned people away, or simply didn't care enough about other people's problems (Christian or not), or didn't protect people from feeling/going through terrible things and now we feel responsible for their pain or their emotions? How many times have we said, look what I've done! And then felt guilt, shame, and self-loathing or even pride and self-righteousness for the success or happiness that they feel.
Notice how Jesus explains the parable. He doesn't say, "See, the reason these people suffered and rejected me was because of that incompetent, selfish, lazy believer who was spreading my message of love and wholeness all wrong!" He says to the disciples that this WORLD is full of affliction and trials (sometimes even caused by our belief in the Word) and the influence of the evil one. He explains how these things get in the way for these seeds, that they are robbed by the world, not our actions or lack of action. We are not responsible for other's change! Contrary to popular belief, we do not control other's emotions, either good or bad! We can influence them for sure, but ultimately it is a choice on the person's part to feel a certain way. And the way that someone changes is based off of a relationship between them and their Father, their God. It is a unique relationship for THEM, just as YOU have a unique relationship with YOUR Father. So often we place our identity in where the seed fell and how people reacted. Did they reject you? Did they accept you? Have you failed in your ultimate purpose and thus failed as a person, or have you succeeded? It is so circumstantial, an identity placed on others. It is risky; it is hard; it is impossible to have a security in who we are, based off of other people, no matter how awesome they are. I am not saying, don't pour out and care about others. Please don't take that away. I am saying pour out and care about others because you know how poured into and cared about by God you are. Love others because you know you are loved. Be selfless because you know how valuable you are and you don't need to drag that question into every scenario in your life. Be selfless because you can, because everything in your life does not center around finding your own happiness; because you don't need to be seen by others, because you are ALREADY SEEN by God. That is why we should care for other people. That is how we can become selfless.
Imagine what it would be like to have your identity placed in the Gospel message that you are spreading, on the God that you are working for. Imagine what it would be like for someone to be having a crappy day and you don't immediately jump to what you did wrong to make them feel that way. Imagine the freedom you would have to love others and not have to think about yourself in it! Imagine the way that you would get to spread God's love - through sincerity and joy, not out of obligation or a necessity to feel like a good person or to have God maybe love the wretched person that you think you are. GOD LOVES YOU NO MATTER WHAT YOUR ACTIONS ARE. He loves you right now as you are - struggling through that sin, being that much of a mess. He loves you. Just sit in that. NO, don't do anything. Let it sit with you. Let it sink in. Let it infiltrate your brain and your heart. Hear it from God himself. My friend. My family. Don't let insecurity rob you of the FULL life that God has in store for you. Don't let it rob you of the Woman or Man that God is making you into. Don't let it rob you of the journey He takes you on; don't let it rob you of joy. Because it is a genius ploy of the enemies. But it doesn't have to be. "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." - 1 John 4:4.