Forgiveness, Insecurity & Sin
My heart was racing. Tears filled my eyes, blurring out the text on the screen in front of me. I turned and stared at my husband in helplessness, no idea why I had been ambushed. He shrugged his shoulders at me. He was just as confounded. I angled the computer screen his way so he could easily read the angry words for himself. I didn’t feel like reading the rest out loud.
I’m not good on the spot. No quick-witted response came to mind and after staring at the words a few tense moments longer, I closed the laptop and set it aside. My sense of righteous indignation grew as I unplugged the computer’s cord and rolled it up. I couldn’t remember ever being more unfairly misunderstood.
And it made me angry.
Not just angry. I was absolutely livid. I shoved the computer in the laptop bag. “I can’t imagine ever addressing someone the way they just addressed me,” I said to my husband.
And there it was. My wounded pride rose up so fast and strong that I forgot a trio of truths that had set me free from a life of crippling insecurity, anxiety, and low self-worth.
1. Sin is against God. (Psalm 51:4) 2. We are all equally guilty before him. (Romans 3:23) 3. Humbling myself is strength, not weakness. (Philippians 2:5-11)
When an attack hit this close to home, I slipped right back into old habits. In my pain and offense, I pulled on discarded robes of self-righteousness. I knew right where I had thrown them and I wrapped them around myself, relishing the comforting warmth of their familiarity.
For the next week I wrestled with the hurt of the situation. It seemed as though there was no possible reconciliation and my heart was breaking. Going over and over the circumstance in question, I knew there was nothing I could have done differently. I hadn’t been in the wrong.
I prayed constantly for God to take the offense away. But it grew like a weed in my mind. I tried to surrender my feelings of anger and injustice. It wasn’t working. I wasn’t able to bring my thoughts into submission. I was just getting angrier. I felt more and more out of control of my emotions.
Then my grandmother called for one of her check-ins. She is one of the wisest women I’ve ever known and an unbelievable blessing. As we talked, I poured out my offense, expecting her to comfort me. Boy was I surprised when she said, “That poor soul. They must really be hurting to act like that. Happy people don’t act like that.” And with her last statement an icy blast hit me. Cold reality slipped through the threadbare edges of my self-righteous cloak and chilled me.
“Happy people don’t act like that.” What God was reminding me was slightly different, “People who are secure in my love don’t act like that.”
And people who are secure in his love don’t react the way I was reacting.
Those were the words I needed to ground me and bring me back to the truths I had been living. I had switched my security from God’s righteousness to my own. And I was feeling the impact.
“Against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
“Have the same mind as Jesus who made himself nothing.”
Yes, it was wrong of this person to attack me. To believe the worst of me. To accuse me of things I hadn’t done. But I needed to step back and remember that no matter how deeply their actions affected me, all sin at its root stems from rebellion against God.
More than that. I needed to remember the truth that transformed my life when it finally moved from my head into my heart. All have sinned. All fall short. We are each equally guilty of sinning against God. How could I continue to live in offense against this person if God no longer lived in offense against me?
God doesn’t have a cosmic sin-measuring stick. We think he does. We compare our sin to someone else’s and make ourselves feel better by how good we are. But the Bible is clear. We’re either guilty or innocent.
Righteousness isn’t on a spectrum.
Though I can judge the behavior in question, the moment I compared my behavior to theirs, “I’d never treat someone like that,” I moved into self-righteousness. I put our sins on a spectrum.
Maybe I’d never talk to someone like that but the list of sins I have committed is so shameful that perhaps if they knew them they’d say, “I’d never do those things.”
Ultimately, their sin was between them and God and I would only incriminate myself if I held onto it, stomping my foot and demanding justice.
That night I had a dream I initiated reconciliation. Though I had done nothing to create the situation and I wasn’t the one in the wrong, I knew I was the one who needed to reach out and take the first step toward healing.
Isn’t that what God calls us to do? Isn’t that what Jesus did?
Wouldn’t it be amazing to wake up tomorrow to a world where no one judged your spirituality, intelligence, appearance, parenting, or housekeeping? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you woke up tomorrow and stopped judging yourself? What if you were able to start believing the best of others?
Unfortunately, we can’t eradicate judgement from the world but we can move into a reality where it no longer has power over us and where we stop holding its power over others. Our sense of self-worth is directly tied to our understanding of sin, forgiveness, and grace. If we grab ahold of these fundamental truths and move them from our heads and into our hearts, living them out in day-to-day life, we will be transformed.
I’d like to explore the idea that insecurity stems from competing for advantage, approval, and acceptance and that the deep need to compete for these things has its root in pride. Not just in our innate desire to promote ourselves but also in the wounds we’ve received when others trampled us in their desire for promotion.
As the God-human dynamic of sin eclipses the human-human dynamic of sin in our understanding, we will not only be able to let go of offenses that have enslaved us to insecurity, but we’ll also move in freedom. We will start loving more freely, forgiving more easily, and worrying less often.
As I continue to blog on the subject, I’ll focus on Psalm 51 and Philippians 2.
When you let go of insecurity caused by other people’s actions, their judgement stops holding power over you.
When you understand the equality of the human condition, performing for the world’s approval loses its appeal.
When the God-human dynamic of sin grabs ahold of your heart, performing for God’s acceptance becomes ridiculous.
Once you realize you no longer have to keep up the performance, you will be set free. Let’s start exploring!
1. Read through Psalm 51 and Philippians 2:1-11 and meditate on the concepts of sin, grace, and humility.
2. Ask God to reveal your areas of insecurity. How are these insecurities holding you back from a life of peace?
3. Write down 3 specific things that would be possible for you if you no longer struggled with these insecurities. You can connect with Stephanie through her website or social media platforms.