Last night, I nearly wrote a post entitled, “Status Update: Insecure.” Over the past few weeks, I have been struggling with insecurity, fear, anger, and depression. Even the things I enjoy the most are shadowed and discolored by the cloud hanging over my soul. Anyone who knows me, realizes that I love bright colors. When I edit my photos, I enhance the brightness and contrast to cause the colors to be even more vivid. I love wearing my neon shirt, just because it so bright. As a general rule, when I look around me at the world, at my friends, and at my life, I see brightness, color, and life. The past few weeks it has all been overcast, dark, and dull.
Crying is not something I enjoy doing. It is not something I do often. Sappy movies don’t make me cry. Pain doesn’t typically make me cry. Last night I cried for two hours straight, scrawling prayers in my journal, and crying that God would rescue me from the shadow I’ve been living in. Yesterday I finally came to grips with the realization that much of my anger and depression is my own fault (well, duh!). I am severely insecure–because I have chosen to place my security in the wrong things. Things that are fallible and will fail. Like myself.
Interestingly enough, I also finished reading “Faith on Trial: Psalm 73,” by Martyn Lloyd-Jones last night. In it, Jones addresses the thought processes of the psalmist as evidenced in Psalm 73. Temptation has caused him to lose sight of God. Jones says, “The great message of this Psalm is that if you and I know what to do with temptation we can turn it into a great source of victory.” What does that have to do with my insecurity? Surely, I am not being tempted to be insecure–no one in their right mind desires insecurity. The book does not end there. He reminds us that each temptation can be turned into spiritual victory when one remembers that God is “always good in all circumstances, in all ways, at all times — no matter what may happen to me, or to anybody else.” The psalmist, though, like myself, had still not connected this vital truth with the circumstances of his life. Jones explains, “When you are uncertain and perplexed, the thing to do is to try and find something of which you are certain, and then take your stand on that.” If I follow that advice, I am left with little of my fallacy of identity to stand on. I cannot be certain of volleyball. I cannot be certain of work or finances or school. I cannot be certain of ministry. I cannot be certain of my looks or perceived beauty. I cannot be certain of my ability or skill in any area. The only thing I can be certain of is God. The author goes on to remind those of us in my position that it is vitally important to remember “who and what you are.” Even to those of us who are most downtrodden, most clouded over in our own self-centered depression, he exhorts, “It does not matter at what level we stand against this enemy of our souls, it does not matter how low the level, so long as we stand.”
With that in mind, I continued to wallow in the tears of my discontentment and insecurity. No matter how much I told myself that God had created me for Himself, exactly how He wanted me to be, I could not believe it. My mind was completely deceived by vain imaginations and comparisons of myself to the world’s image and standard of beauty–something I can never attain or live up to. Stuck in that rut, I continued to drown in the mire of lies, completely failing to stand up and fight the attack of Satan on my soul. It is at this point, that I saw yet another of Jones’ brilliant statements: “If you do not understand what is happening, put it into that context. God is God. God is holy and just. What He has promises He will certainly perform.” He continues to say, “the ultimate cause of all his troubles was that he had gone wrong in thinking about himself. It was because he was always revolving around himself that everything seemed to be so terribly wrong and grossly unfair….All our troubles are ultimately due to the fact that we are governed by our feelings and our hearts and sensibilities instead of by clear thinking and the honest facing of things before God.” I might as well have been punched in the gut. All of my problems, like the psalmist’s, were caused by my own self-absorption! Despite this realization, I still felt trapped, unable to escape from the cycle of wrong thinking.
Fortunately, Martyn Lloyd-Jones did not finish his book there, for Psalm 73 does not end there, with the psalmist in the pit of despair, caught in his own self-thinking. No, the psalmist acknowledges the saving, redemptive, and restoring grace of God. The same grace that had once saved me, is also the grace that will restore me. When the psalmist identifies with the grace of God, Jones writes, “the Psalmist rests confidently in God. He desires God for Himself, for His own sake rather than for what He gives. He desires nothing but God. He finds complete satisfaction in God, and he rests and reposes confidently in Him.” That is what I craved–confidence and rest! Such things are elusive when one’s security is wrapped entirely around an ever-changing, ever-failing object. Thus, the grace of God alone is sufficient to restore us to a place of security and identity in Christ, a place of confidence, peace, and joy.
I read all of that last night. I did not immediately identify with the psalmist or apply the words of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones to my own circumstance. Instead, I went to volleyball tonight, determined to have fun playing my favorite sport. I failed. Miserably. When one’s identity is wrapped up in performing well in volleyball, volleyball is no longer fun. Volleyball is a battle to stay alive, to prove that one is worthwhile. My self-absorption and misplaced identity stole from me the thing I most enjoyed as recreation. I left the gym alone, depressed, angry, and ready to give up. I barely made it to my car before the tears exploded from my eyes and streamed down my face. If I could not play volleyball well, what else was worth living for? Nothing seemed meaningful, and even the music on the radio increased my disenchantment with life.
Then I relapsed. I withdrew a cd from the back of the binder, turned up the volume, and waited. “I’m just a step away/I’m just a breath away/Losin’ my faith today/Fallin’ off the edge today.” The pounding of the music somehow calmed me as I began to sing along from memory, allowing the cry of my heart to merge with the music: “I need a hero to save me now/I need a hero/I need a hero to save my life.” As the music continued to play, I sang and wept. “When my faith is getting weak/And I feel like giving in/You breathe into me again/I’m awake I’m alive/Now I know what I believe inside.” The inward screaming of my soul for release from the pressure of trying to fake and make my own identity and security found echo in the words of each song, slowly bringing me back to a realization of the fact that it’s not about me at all–it’s about God. “Forgive me now ’cause I have been unfaithful/Don’t ask me why ’cause I don’t know/So many times I’ve tried but was unable/This heart belongs to You alone/Now I’m in our secret place/Alone in Your embrace/Where all my wrongs have been erased/You have forgiven.” Grace is abundant and free. What an amazing gift! The Lord who sent His only Son to die on the cross for my sins, to have a relationship with me, is the same Lord that I unconsciously reject every time I place my identity in anything but Him. Yet, He continually forgives and gives grace that I might find in Him the security of One who never fails, One who never ends, and One who always keeps His promises. In that, and that alone, there is confidence and security.