For those overwhelmed at times by their own insecurity, you are in good company. This struggle is a world-wide plague. Even those you may admire have areas they wrestle with. Trust me, they do.
The main differentiation is between those who recognize their need for healing and those who cover it up. The second party often do the most damage to themselves and others, because their unaddressed insecurities breed toxicity.
Great men and women of history wrestled with insecurity as they walked with God and bravely step into new territory. Many carried a resolve to face their insecurities head-on and learn through their battles how to stand firm in who they are.
I Relate to Peter
I don’t know about you, but Peter in the Bible is someone I relate to. I love his passion. He was all-in or completely off. Although full of fire Peter was also riddled with screw-ups, misspoken words and anger tantrums. When I read about Peter’s mishaps, I find myself saying, “Yep. I would probably end up saying or doing the same thing.”
Thank God that Jesus did not see Peter as he was, but as he would become. In all of Peter’s shortcomings, Jesus revealed an awareness of how identity works. Our Lord knew that in order for Peter to grow to a new level, he didn’t need to know what to do and what not to do, he needed a clearer vision of who he was. Peter doesn’t need a performance evaluation. He just needs a revelation of his identity.
Who Am I?
To jumpstart this learning experience, Jesus starts off with a question.
But who do you say that I am? Matthew 16:15
Jesus was not seeking for an “Atta boy!” or an extra pat on the back. This was a setup to give Peter a revelation of his own personal identity. Peter astounds Jesus with his response.
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16
Wow Peter! You got it!
Only divine revelation could have shown Peter the true identity of Jesus. His response was not based on a man-made criteria. Many had put a label on Jesus that He was a good teacher, a Rabbi or a prophet. Peter got the download that He was so much more accurate.
This clear moment was used by our Lord to help establish Peter’s identity as well. Simply using the meaning of Peter’s name reminded him that his destiny is to be a “rock” for the body of Christ.
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
What is Jesus building His church on? The rock of identity. Getting a hold of identity is what will unleash the church’s greatest health and power.
Jesus calls Peter “a rock,” yet Peter did not always manifest a secure “rock” identity right away. The calling out of identity also did not dismiss the battles that would need to be faced. Much like you and I, he had his season of stumbling through connecting to his identity. I bet when Peter stood before the people on the day of Pentecost and preached with boldness, the exhortation of Jesus in Matthew 16 came back to mind.
Personal Insecurity Faced
During my single years, a battle followed me in my relationships. It involved the fear of commitment. I had a deep fear of intimacy, but didn’t know it for a long time. Relationships with females were really challenging. Many men struggle with a fear of commitment, but I was deeply tormented. Watching so many failed marriages and my own brokenness created a terrifying wall in my heart. The very thought of marriage and long term commitment would send me into panic and unrelenting anxiety.
For years, insecurity made it hard for me to gain any sense of peace in committed decisions. Eventually the fear began to move into every area of my life. In addition to dating relationship, the fear infected my decisions of hiring staff, signing a lease on an apartment or even a two-year cell phone commitment. As silly as it may seem to some, I know what it’s like first hand to be confronted with my insecurities.
For years I covered up this fear of intimacy and commitment. I was a professional at over-spiritualizing my reasoning, saying things like, “I can’t get close to a woman, because it gets in the way of my relationship with God.” Meanwhile, I used performance and perfectionism to seek validation, while avoiding intimacy at all costs.
My years of ignoring the insecurities were taking a toll. But like many, I defended my ways to concerned friends and mentors, even using Scriptures out of context to justify my dysfunctional patterns. But the pain and heart-ache was building rapidly and I began to see that something was not right. It took a hard realization that if I continued in this pattern, I would end up alone and deeper into mental illness.
So I was left with a decision: mask over the fears and insecurity, justify them or allow God to do surgery on my heart. This is where bravery comes into action. Most people ignore the signals of insecurity and cover them up, rather than allowing God to take you on a journey of discovering who you really are. Being brave doesn’t mean you have no fear. It just simply means you are willing to go some where fear doesn’t want you to experience.
Getting a Revelation of Who I Am
Being willing to let God heal me opened me up for some divine encounters with truth. I remember an experience I had while driving in my car years ago, where I felt God speak to my true identity. This particular experience took place during the time when Melissa and I were dating. We were getting serious and I was planning on asking her to marry me. I knew she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but I was so scared. Insecurity was screaming and fear was pushing back.
As I drove, I had been meditating on the subject of identity and was rehearsing some of what I felt God was saying about me. I pondered the idea of committing to marriage and a ton of insecure thoughts flooded my mind, “Do I know what I am doing? Am I making the right decision? Can I handle marriage? Can I handle all that’s going to come? What about all the marriages you have watched that are dead or messed up? Can I handle what is coming my way?” Although I was in love with her and all my close confidants gave me such great council that Melissa was a wonderful woman for me, there were still broken areas of my heart that needed to be confronted and healed. I truly hungered for breakthrough.
My understanding of love was immature, because it lacked the understanding of commitment and covenant. So facing this insecurity was critical. In a moment, it was like God interrupted my spiral and snapped me out of my fear-ridden state. Faith-filled thoughts began flooding my heart, drawing my focus to what I really am and what I was created to be. God did not engage my fear of commitment or fear of intimacy. Instead, He pointed me to the bigger picture of what He was doing in my life.
This is often how God deals with our junk. He responds to our insecurity by simply reminding us of who we are.
Going to the Next Level
Immediately, I sensed God bringing attention to my name Mark, which means “mighty warrior.” From there, I felt a swarm of thoughts fill my heart of what it looked like to live as a mighty warrior for God. Not only did this give me the courage to break through my fear and insecurities, it created a domino effect in my life where I began to face all my circumstances with greater boldness.
Mark, you are a Mighty Warrior of Jesus. It is your name and it is who you are. That is who you are! You are a front line warrior. I’m going to use you to touch nations. I’m going to use you to touch all kinds of people! You are a warrior, a mighty warrior who will show people how to connect to their hearts! You are going to lead an army of overcomers who will passionately know the love of the Father and walk in delivering freedom! And this is all going to come out of you understanding who you are!
I began to weep and then cry as my heart was so overwhelmed by the love and confidence I felt from God. Shortly after this, I got a ring and asked Melissa to spend the rest of her life with me. We had the most beautiful engagement experience, one we love to retell with others.
The Domino Effect
Not only that, many decisions shifted when I decided to stop toying around with insecurity and step boldly into what God says is possible. The potential for my life was incredible, but I had to come into agreement with it and start taking my stand against what made me insecure. From that moment on, I knew the power of the Kingdom of God would grow in my life as I took a secure stance in it each day. To this day, I have never looked back.
That one decision was a domino for me to learn to make tough decisions, being secure that God is my Father, He has my back and He will carry me through. In fact, I have had to make numerous though decisions since then; choices that involved a lot of risk. Sometimes it takes one big decision to propel you into a whole new life of powerful decisions.
I had to come to the place of saying, “Lord, I’m going to trust you, I’m going to step in and stop letting this insecurity be justified.” Since then, I have made it a commitment to daily rehearse my identity so that it becomes imbedded into my DNA. Growing in security takes time, but the more I practice who I really am and shed who I am not, the more I land in confidence.
The key is that we overcome our insecurities through real-time relationship interactions. We have to take action. We cannot expect some prayer moment to lift this completely off. We also cannot wait to feel better before we take action. Stepping forward goes hand in hand with overcoming the insecurity.