Is It This Hard For Everyone Else?

boxing

I wasn’t going to write this post. Or I should say, I wasn’t going to rewrite this post. I lost it when my trusty laptop-from-seminary-days finally decided to kick the bucket. I wrote the original on Tuesday when I was sitting in the church that I attend here in Bakersfield. I spent a good chunk of time at church on Monday and Tuesday. I’d opened up the fellowship hall for students to come and study, accompanied by plenty of caffeine, sugar, and junk food. You know, the basic necessities when it’s time to study for finals. Except no one really came. It was the study hall that wasn’t. This is mostly my fault, since I didn’t have the timing quite right when it came to publicity and advertising (read: I advertised too late), albeit unintentionally. This is what happens when you learn as you go. And then a friend wrote something on Facebook that brought up this post again, so I’m putting it out there. Maybe it’s too vulnerable (and you’re not interested in reading that). And it certainly isn’t about any of the major country and world events that are going on right now, and I feel like I should comment on those. Oh, and it isn’t about Advent either. And maybe it’s not theological enough, but here it goes.

My first semester in this new position evaporated out from underneath my feet. Where did it go? But boy, was it fun! I explored a new campus, met incredible students, and enjoyed the warm weather. It’s been about 70 lately. Don’t hate me. At the same time though, as I walked onto campus each day, I couldn’t help but be assailed with thoughts like these: How do I walk up to a complete stranger and start spiritual conversations? “Hi, would you like to talk about God?”, isn’t exactly a proffer that puts someone at ease when you’re talking to someone you don’t know. I can’t do that.

“Who am I to tell them that they need Jesus?” That sounds incredibly pompous. “Maybe they’re just fine the way they are.”

“But there is that whole ‘original sin’ thing. It’s not really a question of whether or not their life is falling apart. But people don’t respond well to that either.”

“What if Jesus doesn’t reveal himself to them to be as powerful and transformative as I say he is? After all, the transformation can be really hard to see sometimes.”

In other words, my doubts start out pointed at me and my weaknesses, and before I know it, they’re directed at Jesus. It’s my job to spread the Gospel of Jesus. This is not good.

Perhaps this is because it can sometimes be hard to see the change that Jesus has worked in me. I oftentimes feel just as insecure as I’ve always been. My insecurities come from a deep, dark place within me, stemming from the trauma of my childhood. I really don’t understand why they keep bubbling up. I know the place of lies from which the insecurities come. I understand it. I’ve made my peace. God has redeemed and continues to redeem everything that lies in that deep, dark hole. The source seems to be largely inoculated. Why then, does it still have such power over me?

I don’t live each day as an insecure mess. I do believe Jesus is everything I’ve said he is, and more. He does transform lives, hearts, and the world. Each day, I strive to be the woman I know God has created me to be, versus the scared eight-year-old inside me that just wants to curl up and hide. I live this way because I know I can. I am not the eight-year-old anymore. Because of Jesus, I am more than that. But it’s a tooth-and-nail fight sometimes. And sometimes I lose. I do not step into the power, authority, and identity of my Savior, and I lose. And sometimes by some miracle, I win. I believe in the power of Jesus, which is the best word of good news ever, and I have a good conversation with said stranger. Or I help a student through a crisis. But was it enough of a win? It’s hard. It’s hard to be the person I know I’m created to be. The person I know I am. And I’m wondering…is it this hard for everyone else?

How about you? Do you struggle with insecurity? How do you deal with it? How have you overcome?

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Is It This Hard For Everyone Else?

  1. “I know the place of lies from which the insecurities come. I understand it. I’ve made my peace. God has redeemed and continues to redeem everything that lies in that deep, dark hole. The source seems to be largely inoculated. Why then, does it still have such power over me?” God has come into my life, and I need God to come again. Sounds like an Advent message to me. Thank you, Jill.

    • Wow, James. Thank you. You’re absolutely right. I fall into the trap, I think, of thinking that everything needs to be made right once and for all, when in reality, Jesus doesn’t come into our lives or our world only once, but again and again.

  2. What does Jesus offer to today’s world? Most people are really just fine, but that’s the problem. For example, there is a march in our city for justice and reconciliation that is happening tonight. Many more people will be at Founder’s consuming too much beer. On college campuses, is there a problem with physical and sexual abuse or not? Does anyone really care to find out or is the party this weekend promising to be way too much fun?

    There is a malaise of leisure that we’re struggling against. I’m not sure what Jesus has to say to that. It’s probably more prophetic than pastoral. That won’t make you any more popular though.

    • Good point. I’m not really worried about being prophetic, just persuasive. And I don’t always feel like I am. Bumbling my words seems a more apt description sometimes.

  3. Jill,
    Thanks for acknowledging what everyone feels sometimes.

    I know how you feel when you’ve made an offer and no one even acknowledges it. You’re not alone when you don’t have answers to every question. It’s not encouraging to think that Abraham waited almost one hundred years to see even the miniscule beginning of what he was promised; And Paul fretted over his weakness as well.

    It would be nice if one could offer a single solution that would improve our outlook instantly, every time we feel discouraged, but that hasn’t been God’s promise.

    He does promise that His grace is sufficient, and He will provide strength for today.

    There are many different ways that God encourages me… some, perhaps many of them would not have been encouraging in my younger days because I couldn’t see their value.

    One is my call. When God brought me to this place, He made it very evident that I was responsible for some things and not for others. The ‘not for others’ has been most encouraging because when I fail at the thing for which I am not responsible, it doesn’t keep me down. I find I can focus more on what I am responsible for.

    Example: God has called me to preach the Gospel. He has not called me to fill the pews. He has not dictated the minimum class size, nor has he mandated that I cover a certain number of verses in the forty five minutes of class time. He hasn’t even made me responsible to see that anyone shows up for class. It is most discouraging when no one shows up! Yet, if I have prepared myself to teach, and if I have done my best to make sure those who might benefit from the class are aware of its time and are able, and have been encouraged to attend, then I have been successful for what God has called me to do. And… as you have done, perhaps I can use that time for introspection or preparation for another part of the job He has given me the opportunity to pursue.

    You will ask, if no one showed up, how have you been successful in preaching the Gospel? People see, and sometimes they hear my actions more clearly than my words. My faithfulness is a reflection of God’s faithfulness. I will be faithful!

    There are many parts of my job that might contribute to my success or failure. They are not my call, and they are not to be used as the yardstick to measure my success. If I fail at one of them… or six of them, I try again or I try a different way.

    Sometimes, as we begin to think we are finding success in our mission, God even allows those from whom we expect encouragement to undermine our confidence. Then we have to remember that there is only one who is faithful… but He is faithful! Perhaps He is helping to define more clearly what His has called us to do… or not called us to do.

    Lowell

    • Part of my angst and insecurity comes from not always knowing what I’m responsible for and what I’m not. As you say, there are definitely things that I’m not responsible for in my call, but it seems like every element of what I do is somehow wrapped up in my call, so it’s hard, sometimes, to know what to take responsibility for. This time around, I know there were certain things I could have done better, and I’ll strive to do so next time. But there’s also a bit of regret knowing that I can’t go back and redo. I don’t beat myself up nearly as much as I used to, but there’s still a bit of regret.

  4. It is hard. For me, it takes getting past the first awkward period of resistance to a stranger trying to sell them something and getting to a real conversation. At that point, you can talk about who you love – Jesus. I think sincerity is the key, particularly in this post-modern world we live in.

    • Yeah I think one of the things our generation likes the least is being sold to. And unfortunately that is what a lot of evangelism comes off as. I don’t know if there is a fix for this. I notice the people trying to deconvert don’t act this way, they put the information out on a web page, post a link to it on social media, and wait for you to click on it. That way you feel like you are coming to it on your own free will.

    • I hate feeling like I’m having to “sell something”. In this post-modern culture, I value genuineness, and the “selling something” aspect of evangelism feels so disingenuous. I believe in what I’m “selling”, but the mere fact that I’m “selling” something diminishes my credibility, I think. And I don’t know how to get past that.

      • I know it’s hard. I think the best thing the church could do with regards to evangelism is get their older members helping the young people (as the older members have more access to resources and social networks). I think the narcissism epidemic that started with the baby boomers is the thing hurting the church the most. Obviously our generation is narcissistic as well but this just shows how bad we need the older generation to break the cycle and lead by example.

  5. They say trying and failing is better than not trying at all. But trying and failing often feels worse than not trying at all, particularly if one struggles from depression. I think trying and failing only makes strong people stronger and I am not a strong person. Case in point 2013 was a great year for me because I didn’t really put myself out there trying to get to know people, I just visited friends and cousins I already knew. 2014 I actually tried harder (and failed) to break into local social networks and it has helped make it another bad year.

    You are tough though and putting yourself out there so you deserve self-esteem.

    • Yep, you’re right that the trying and failing can definitely get discouraging. But I disagree with your assessment that you’re not a strong person. I don’t think I could deal with the life variables that you do. It seems from your perspective that you’re a constant failure, but you have to work a lot harder at life than many people do. Success will look different for you (and for me) than it does for most people. I hope you can celebrate your successes, whatever they are, from your perspective. Don’t worry about others’ perspectives of success. Their opinion doesn’t matter here. They’re not living your life. You are. And yes, sometimes you need to take a break from trying in order to rebuild your strength. May your break be a time of renewal for you, and may God fill you with the courage to someday try again.

      • Thank you for the encouragement! But the world and the church don’t grade on a curve. A lot of women I know want kids, and to the depth they want them I want respect. As a man, without respect you really have nothing. No guy friends, no dates, little control of your life, etc.. without being respected you cannot get and keep a job and without a job people don’t respect you. And (pertaining to God), without respect church people will treat you like you’re invisible.

        I’ve been told by therapists and self-help literature that my opinion of myself is my impediment, if I just had higher self-esteem things would go better. But I’ve been manic with long stretches of high self-esteem and I didn’t notice an improvement of my situation then.

    • There’s no doubt that the church would definitely be healthier if the generations could work together and benefit from one another. And yes, I agree that when we look at history, it does seem like there was a shift in how people thought of themselves in the ’50s, after WWII. I’m not really sure what caused that though. Haven’t really researched it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s