Do you ever struggle with insecurity? Because I do! And I really have no reason to.
As someone who has had every need met from day one, I can’t believe that insecurity is something someone like me would deal with. The good news is that insecurity is becoming less and less of an issue for me; which is probably typical. I suppose that as you grow up and wise up, you give less space in your life to the thoughts that lead to insecurity. But it’s been a long time coming.
I can remember a social outing for my 5th grade class. It was at night, at an arcade, and I have a vivid memory of me staring at my reflection in the window of the arcade. I was wearing a turquoise print shirt and a pair of black overalls with only one strap connected (obviously!). My outfit was finished off with a pair of Jordans and a baseball hat I was wearing backwards (obviously!). As I stared at my reflection in that window, I thought,” Yep, this is it. I’m good.”
But I wasn’t.
The reason I wasn’t good is because I was looking for things externally to give me security internally. Again, this is probably a typical right of passage for most adolescents in our society, right? We crave people’s approval. And there are those rare anomalies who are naturally confident and secure apart from outside influence. I know this because I married one of these unicorns! Actually it’s one of the things that most attracted me to her. But for the rest of us, we are always trying to find that right behavior or look or possession or talent that will finally bring real security.
I assume that many of you reading this are dealing with, or have dealt with, insecurity as a parent, in your workplace, or just as an individual within a larger community. Many of you have gone looking for security thinking you’ll find it in the right relationship, in the right lifestyle, in the right job, in the right home, in the right whatever. The problem is that whenever you go anywhere, you take yourself with you. Wherever you go, there you are… along with your insecurity.
This leads me to one conclusion…
Security can never come from outside of yourself. Instead, the way to find true security is through internal transformation. I am really talking about identity. Identity is the antidote to insecurity.
And this is how I found mine…
A couple thousand years ago, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to a group of people in the city of Ephesus and he began the letter with several sentences that address identity. Those of us in the traditional white evangelical church tend to skip over these opening words to get to the “meat of the message.” The problem with skipping over them is that the words are the message. We’d do well to stop treating them as flowery language for fancy filler, because there is incredible depth if we are willing to dig.
In just the first 14 verses of the letter, we learn that those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, claiming him as Savior and Lord, receive a new identity that can be summed up in four words:
Saint, Selected, Saved, and Sealed.
The problem is we rarely take these labels seriously and, therefore, we never come to embrace the internal security that comes from living into them. But when we do, it’s beautiful. And the best part is that no matter where we go, no matter how we perform, no matter who’s around, we have an unshakable security in our identity. It’s a security completely independent of our circumstance or surrounding.
When Paul writes that we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, the imagery that would have come to mind for his original audience is that of a king’s signet ring. The signet was used to seal declarations and mark territory, designating approval and ownership.
Those of us who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives have been marked as approved and as the property of God, complete with full protection and provision.
And guess what!? Everywhere I go, there I am… now fully secure because of the identity from within… in every circumstance, every environment, every role. I especially remind myself of my new identity in those moments when I catch my reflection in the window and see that insecure 5th grader again… at the age of 37.
I now find security in a God who claims, “This is mine…mess with it and you must answer to the King.” The King of kings has declared a new family heritage for me as signified by the mark of the Holy Spirit on my life.
Is this not the kind of compassionate King under whose authority I would want to submit and I would want to obey? Absolutely!
It’s this innate security in my new identity that motivates and emboldens me to live life on mission everyday. I’m no longer on a mission to find security, but instead I get to join the King in his mission of reconciling and healing a broken world back to his Kingdom.
I encourage you to spend at least 10-15 minutes reading Paul’s words in the opening of his letter to the Ephesians. Open up your Bible or the YouVersion app on your phone and really allow the words to speak to you… sit with them and meditate over them. Then decide for yourself if it is even possible to find the kind of security this identity offers anywhere else!