Episode 1. The People Around Us
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Insecurity is a social disease running at plague proportions. And like every other plague – it has dire consequences. Hmmm. What if you have the disease? Is there a cure? Probably one of the …
Insecurity is a social disease running at plague proportions. And like every other plague – it has dire consequences. Hmmm. What if you have the disease? Is there a cure?
Probably one of the things that we’d all like to do is to grow as people. Hopefully today, we’re a bit more mature and balanced than we were, say 5 years ago. And in 5 years time, we’d hope that we’ve learned a bit more. That the years have brought some wisdom and some insight compared to who we are and how we behave today.
That’s what we’d like to think. But it’s not always the case. The reality is that there are some things in us, sometimes, that hold us back. That constrain us from being all that we can be. They stop us from living life to the full.
One of the things that many of us struggle with and I certainly have in my life, is a deep sense of inadequacy and insecurity. So is it possible to deal with this personal and social disability?
Other people around us, well they seem so confident of themselves and their own abilities. Have you noticed? Especially young people these days. Look at them. They’re so talented. They’re so confident. While everybody else is busy putting their best foot forward, sometimes we’re dying a quiet death inside. “Somehow, I don’t feel as good. I’m not as articulate. I’m not as talented. I’m not as bright. I’m not as good-looking. I’m not as fit. I’m not as significant as they are. I don’t make as much difference in the world as they do.”
We can often have that sort of a view of ourselves. And the worst bit about it is you can’t easily admit that to someone. You look at a photo of yourself and you think, “I look ugly”. Or maybe you see yourself on a video and you think, “surely I don’t look like that.” Or you hear your voice recorded and you think, “I don’t sound like that. That can’t be me can it?”
It’s a quiet, lonely hell. Is this something you might relate to? Over 50% of all women in western society chronically suffer from low self-esteem. And it happens to men too. But in a sense it’s almost worse for men because the whole macho image thing, well you can’t admit that to someone.
So what are the symptoms? What does somebody look like who’s suffering from insecurity? Well the first thing is they’re really, really touchy. When you’re around them it’s like walking on eggshells. You have to be careful where you tread. Because you don’t know when they’re going to go off like a cracker. Someone who’s insecure worries about what other people think about me. What will they think when they know this? What are they saying behind my back? What are they doing to me? How does this impact on me?
Somebody who’s really insecure sees themselves at the centre of the universe. And they’re really hard people to be around. But what if that someone is you or me?
As we sit here talking about deep insecurity, I wonder how many people would love to be healed? To be set free. This week on A Different Perspective, I’ve called this little series of five programs – Time to Get Over It. Because I’d like to look at this subject of insecurity from a different perspective. Dealing with hurts from the past. Getting a right and balanced attitude towards ourselves.
Let me tell you something. I have a crazy notion. I have this crazy notion that Jesus died on the cross for me and for you, to set us free. And Jesus said:
If I set you free, you’ll be free indeed. You’ll be really free
Well … let me ask you a question. Do you like yourself? I mean, you strip off your clothes and you stand naked in front of the mirror and you look at yourself. And you think, “do I fundamentally like this person?” And there’s an emotional equivalent too. You strip off all the pretence and all the faces we put on when we go out in front of other people. And we look at ourselves as a package. Me inc or you inc. This package of physical; his package of emotional; this package of spiritual; of talents and strengths and weaknesses and limitations. You look at this package and let me ask you to give yourself an honest answer. Do you really like you? Are you happy with you?
Sadly, the answer for a lot of people is “no”. Sadly, the answer for me used to be “no”. Now I’m not asking any of us to have a swelled head. But Jesus said, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
Now that’s great. We always focus on that first bit, of loving your neighbour. And there’s probably none of us that would say that’s a bad idea. I mean, to love, to be good to the people around us. Friends, family, work colleagues, people at church, people at the club, whatever we’re involved in. To love our neighbour seems to be a really good thing to do.
But just let’s think about this because it’s a two-part sentence. “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
Love yourself – now that’s an interesting thing. We don’t expect Jesus to say that. We think it’s all about loving your neighbour. But He’s saying:
Love your neighbour as yourself. (Mark 12:31)
Question: what if we don’t have a right attitude towards ourselves? What if we don’t like ourselves? What if we don’t love ourselves? Well in this two-part sentence Jesus is saying, “Well if you can’t love yourself properly, you probably won’t be able to love other people properly.”
Look around. Look at insecure people. They’re always feeding their insecurity. They’re never content with who they are. They’re never content with their lot in life. Me, I used to hate when other people succeeded. Others were in the lime light. When you’re in that space, how can you love other people? How can you be good to other people when the only thing that you really can deal with is this deep, nagging, painful, insecurity thing?
And then one day God switched a light on in my heart. I came to the understanding that this Jesus whom He sent, His Son, who died on the cross, died for me while I was still all those rotten things I knew I was. Just as I am, naked in front of that mirror, complete package – good and bad, beautiful and ugly, with all that rotten stuff in me. The naturally consequences of which are shame and insecurity.
Jesus said, “Give me all that bad stuff. All that stuff about you that you don’t like. Give me that black box full of all that rubbish. And I will take it and I will take it on me.”
We see that Jesus became sin. He who knew no sin became sin for us. He took all that rubbish that makes me feel embarrassed and ashamed and paid for it. Full payment. No more payment required. No more need for justice. He paid for it. So I became white, pure. A slate wiped clean. And it doesn’t matter where we are in our walk in life.
You may have been walking with Jesus for 40 years. You may never have accepted Jesus as yours and put your trust in Him. But let’s just contemplate that deeply. Just for a long time, try and wrap our hearts and our minds around that. And my prayer for you is, that as you do and as I do still in my life too, as we live our lives trying to come to grips with His grace, that it changes us. That it takes away our need to feel insecure.
I can honestly say today that I don’t have insecurity in my life. And it used to be such a cancer. I remember visiting a school friend just a few years after we had left school. And she was telling me how Bill, a friend of ours, was doing really well in his business and they were going well and it was like something inside me died. I couldn’t cope with someone else doing better than I was doing.
That’s gone. God’s healed that. And the whole source, the whole root of the healing is right there on that rough wooden cross on that hill, just outside Jerusalem, called Calvary. Where Jesus made a statement to you and me. Where He said, “I love you this much.” And if anyone loves me that much, if God loves me that much, it’s not a glib, trite thing. It’s not a “oh well, God loves you.” This is a profound statement meant to strike at the heart of my insecurity and yours.