When I was 10 I felt very much like the scum of the earth. I was painfully insecure, hurting and miserable. My parents seemed quite helpless, although I knew they cared. As far as I was concerned it was all those outside my home—kids and even adults—that were either mean or wanted nothing to do with me. For anyone who has been leechy and outgrown it, I think you could look back at yourself and recognize you probably weren’t all that lovable, either. But how to fix?
I believed God…couldn’t make it all feel worthwhile…even in Heaven someday
I felt so unacceptable I wouldn’t accept myself until I felt acceptable. Contriving an “acceptable” image to measure up to, I resolved to become like a 20-year-old immediately even though I was still 10. Envisioning a TV camera on myself constantly, I tried never to be silly or do anything I’d be ashamed of. The most ironic part of this story is when I turned 20 I was still acting like a 10 to a 15-year-old.
I convinced myself I didn’t care. This eventually led me to spiral out of control. I hurt myself because I got so used to lying to myself, I didn’t understand myself anymore. I also became an accomplishment-aholic. Meaning I’d make it all feel worthwhile someday by acquiring skills and achievements I could be admired for later. But I would never brag because I wasn’t impressed when others bragged. Rather, I’d just look forward to the day when people would be impressed, no matter how long it took. I believed God didn’t really care, or at least he couldn’t make it all feel worthwhile to me even in Heaven someday, let alone on this earth.
They told me I was proud…I had been so committed to not being proud
When I was 20 God moved us away from the area where I spent (it felt like) 10 years too long. It was hard for me living there, but pointless to get into why it was hard. Knowing how stubborn, proud and headstrong I can be, I believe God allowed it to draw me closer to himself. Also, by being such a reject that even the bad crowds didn’t want me, God kept me out of trouble.
When I went to New Tribes Mission’s boot camp (now called Ethnos) I was around 23 years old. I was still suffering the effects of such damaging growing up years, and they had to ask me to leave after 2 months. Realistically I wasn’t ready to be a missionary. But before I went there I felt like I was treading water spiritually, and afterward, I was swimming laps. They really helped me, and I’ve been so grateful ever since.
They told me I was proud. I had been repulsed when others were proud, so determined I wouldn’t be. I focused on humbling verses, songs, thoughts—on all ways to be humble. And when they first told me I was proud, I couldn’t see what they were talking about.
I never found that joke funny… “I’m the humblest person ever”
They briefly mentioned I was insecure but focused on my pride as the main problem I had. I kept looking blankly at them until they eventually, gently illustrated how they reached their conclusion. They mentioned a few things that I was ashamed of, which revealed my pride. Then the Holy Spirit convicted me, opening my eyes. I cried then, and cried, and cried. I felt so dirty. By confessing my pride as a sin, I was for the first time feeling secure, and as a result, truly maturing.
I never found the joke funny: “I used to be proud, but now I’m the humblest person ever.” It was too hard on me living a lie, and too freeing to just confess it as sin. My insecurity didn’t just disappear. I had to keep praying “God I need you,” and when that grasping feeling didn’t go away, I kept repeating, “THANK you Lord that I have you.”
Psalm 51:6, NKJV says, “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” Have you ever wondered how to apply the truth Jesus was driving at when he said he was the vine, we’re the branches, and that we’re to abide in him (John 15:1-6)? You know how vines have those curly things that wrap around any nearby fence. Those curly things are potential, inadequate roots. They’re looking for ground to plug into. But if they do, the vine won’t do well. They try to provide nourishment, but only if the plant relies entirely on its main root system will it be healthy.
In the same way, when we keep confessing every sinful thought, we’re abiding in the vine. Now, even if facing the truth about myself hurts, I embrace it. That’s the only way for true healing, growth, and maturity.