If you’ve ever lost your home to a natural disaster, or even been threatened by that possibility, it quickly puts into perspective just how fragile our places of refuge can be. When I was in high school, my family’s home was threatened by a massive wildfire which caused unprecedented destruction across Southern California. I distinctly remember school being closed for a week, and the sun being blotted out in the middle of the day by the enormous clouds of ash which filled the sky. At night, my brother and I sat on the roof of our house and watched ominously as the hillsides all around our community were engulfed with giant gashes of brightly-blazing flame. The entire concept of homeowners insurance exists because people realized long ago that your “castle” won’t be much of a castle after a raging fire, earthquake, or hurricane rips through your neighborhood. Planning for failure is a smart way to live your life, as far as our society is concerned.
If I could write a letter to my 16-year old self, I’d basically only give myself two pieces of advice by which to live the rest of my life: Be more confident, and trust God more faithfully. The majority of my problems both during and since my youth could have been avoided if I’d simply followed those two precepts. Confidence is something that everyone wishes they had more of. Even though we’re all generally pretty successful people with numerous accomplishments in our life which we can point to with pride, the fact remains that everyone still struggles with feeling small. Our sense of self-worth ebbs and flows; sometimes we go through seasons where we feel afraid of our own shadow, and other times you literally feel like you can take on the world. If you’re like me, I’m sure you often vacillate between these two extremes multiple times within the same week, or even on the same day.
Following God is also a process of ups and downs. There are days when my faith is so unshakeable I literally feel like I could lay hands on someone and rebuke cancer from their body, or maybe cast demons out of a mentally deranged homeless person. Other times, I find myself faced with mountains of hardships and unanswered questions, and God’s deafening silence leads me to wonder whether any of the directions I’ve received from Him were even real, or just the whispers of an imaginary voice in my head. Like our sense of self-confidence, our faith tends to ebb and flow with the successes and failures of life. In the past, I used to think of these questioning times as evidence that I wasn’t a good Christian, or that my faith lacked substance. Now, though, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these times are the proving grounds of a real Christian’s faith. It’s easy to love and trust God when your world is filled with sunshine and warmth. However, when you find yourself shivering in the cold, dark night of adversity, waiting desperately for God to answer your pleas for help, that’s when you get to know the real you. Whether you’re experiencing a crisis of faith, or just doubting your own self-confidence, at the end of the day your problem is essentially the same: faithlessness.
God never changes. His word says in Hebrews 13:8 that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Even in the midst of your deepest hurts and darkest nights, His love for you has never wavered for an instant. When you doubt yourself, or lose faith in his beautiful plan for your life, you’re essentially forgetting your identity as a beloved friend and co-heir with Jesus in God’s Kingdom. When you find yourself doubting God, you would do well to remember first of all that God is not scared of your doubts. He created you, he knows your thoughts fully before a word is on your lips, and therefore he knows exactly what you’re feeling before you do. Tell him what’s on your mind. I’ll bet you if you speak honestly with him, and wait patiently, he’ll answer you with the reassurance that he loves you and that his plans for you are perfect. In order to overcome insecurity, you have to stop and intentionally focus on where your sense of security is based, because if it’s based on the Almighty God of the universe, there’s no real reason to be worried at all.
Stop being insecure. Stop doubting your value as God’s child. Stop assuming that your happiness isn’t meant to last, or that God is somehow going to punish you and remove whatever you desperately love from your life. If you truly know your God, those thoughts shouldn’t even have a place in your mind.