I’ve mentioned before that I struggle with insecurity…and deeply connected with that concern is a fear of what others think of me. In recent months, I’ve written about some very serious social issues, but I’ve done so with a great deal of anxiety. The reason for my anxiety is that I don’t want to be dishonest about my beliefs or disrespectful to my faith while also not wanting to alienate those that don’t share the same view. I guess if I’m really and totally honest, my fear is that I would be lumped in with a particular segment in our culture that is seen as a very close-minded or even ignorant group. (I’m not saying they are close-minded or ignorant, but just that they are viewed that way.) So…what happens next is that I have a conversation with someone…or stand up to preach a sermon…or sit down to write an article…and then I begin to struggle through all of the possible outcomes to the various things I could say or write. This can be paralyzing to some people…people like me…
I wrote about a very touchy subject not too long ago. I wrote about Christianity and Homosexuality (view it here: http://stirringsofthesoul.com/Christianity-and-Homosexuality). When I did, there were lots and lots of “likes” on Facebook…and the stats went through the roof. I was actually quite surprised. The thing that amazed me was that there were many people that thought I was saying something I was not saying. They totally missed the main point of what I was saying and became angered about the fact that I didn’t come out with guns blazing saying that this is the abomination of desolation that is going to bring the world to the brink of destruction. I became concerned about that…concerned about what people would think of me based on that writing. Then…on the other side…I was concerned with what the other side of the discussion would think. If at this point you are feeling exhausted with this roller coaster…don’t feel bad. I’m exhausted by it as well.
I am not trying to address the same-sex issue in this post so if that’s what you are focusing in on at this moment, then let’s get away from that. What I am speaking about is the struggle of the culture in which we live regarding what we think of each other and how we treat one another. Supposedly there is an emphasis on “tolerating” one another. There are those that say they don’t have to be tolerant of any particular lifestyle or group or whatever and that’s their choice. Then there are those that say that they tolerate all lifestyles…except usually they won’t tolerate those that are intolerant which effectively makes them intolerant as well.
So…there we are…between these two places…or maybe standing outside of that spectrum…wondering what is the best move? Some would say that we should just mind our own business and not say anything about anyone’s lifestyle or actions. The problem with that is that there is not really any reality to that. All humans…ALL HUMANS have preclusive notions about others. We all have things we do and don’t like and we will tend to project that on to the identity of others and find it grounds to dislike someone instead of disliking something about them. We live in a broken, energy-losing, and dare I say “sinful” universe. For those of you that don’t like the word “sin,” simply understand that in this context it is the same thing as saying “broken.” I have very strong convictions about what the answer is to this problem. I will not be ambiguous about this. I believe in the truth of the Gospel of Jesus. I believe that He is the only Way to setting existence right. I believe with every fiber of my being that those living without Him are not living with the fullest joy and abundance that is theirs to have. I also believe in the Bible and God’s created order for humanity and existence. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have struggles with some things in the Bible and it also doesn’t mean that I believe anyone has it all figured out. What it means is that the central story of the Bible, which is the reconciliation of the world through Jesus, is that to which I anchor myself. The overarching story of the Bible is pretty clear when looking at it from a big-picture point of view.
Having said (or written) all of that, let me get back to how this relates to insecurity and the prison of what others think…
Recently, I’ve come to a serious realization. It’s in two parts. The first part is this: No matter how I write, what I say, or what I stand for, there are going to be people that think ill of me, disrespect me, misunderstand me, or simply reject me based on my positions or my convictions. That’s the way it is. I have to be okay with that. I have to allow them the freedom to do that and NOT react the same way. The second part is this: If I truly believe what I say and think I do, then my identity and worth are not wrapped up in what others think of me or whether or not they reject me (or God forbid “Unfriend” me… 😉 ). My identity is secure in my faith. Whom I am is not based on what anyone says or thinks or accepts or rejects. I am His child. I am learning more and more every day to remember that and find my security in Him…and it’s not always easy…but it has always proven to be true.
What others think of us is not all that important. While I don’t think arrogance is the answer to this, I’ve still got to remember this…
…and let the shackles fall.
*Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/48343395974228019/