Something you should understand about myself–as with anyone else–is that our encounters may, for the most part, remain superficial, and that for a very long time. In reality, there is often more that could be said in response to the standard greeting, “How’s it going?” but unless there’s a sincere interest in really knowing more, those behind-the-scenes details are usually left off.
But let’s just say that on a day like today, I decided to come clean and tell you how I’m really doing. And what I would say to you, if I’m being completely honest and transparent, is that it’s the issue of self-worth I struggle with greatly, and that on a daily basis. Yes, I’m very well aware of where it comes from and how it affects me, even to this very day; which is something I want to focus on in this post, especially when you consider how it severely hinders an individual from being able to carry about a normal, fulfilled life.
Recently, after going through the application and audition process, I was welcomed to a worship team; a rather sudden, life-changing, and yet profound event for me, whereof I am still learning all its implications (yea how God truly does love me). I’ve never played in a band before, except for in high school, and certainly not one like this. But something still wasn’t quite right.
I found myself struggling very hard with a sense of belonging. Even though I’m now considered a member of the worship team, I didn’t feel like I belonged there. The days to follow would reveal the sheer volume of praise and affirmation it would take this wonderful group and loving church bestowing upon me, before I was able to overcome the lies I was told and still believed; and be truly convinced that I was in fact accepted in the beloved. Like the woman at the well, I didn’t feel like I deserved to be there, and I didn’t feel like I was good enough, even though I had been accepted as good enough.
Beyond just “lies of the Devil,” I came to recognize it as a form of debilitating doubt, much in the same way you have other debilitating mechanisms such as pathological fears. And it was a very suppressive thing.
In the military, suppression is a tactic (generally employing the use of a squad automatic weapon, or SAW) used to drive the enemy back or push the enemy down, in order to maneuver the rest of the infantry into a better position to ultimately overcome the enemy. So it is for the individual that feels like they don’t belong in a place they’re called to be; when they don’t feel like they can live after they’ve already been freed; they are under heavy suppressive fire from the enemy. And on this note…
Never rebuke or reprimand someone for believing a lie. In doing so, you are compounding the complications and difficulties the individual is already struggling with in the first place. Demanding results without investing into the requirements to produce those results and address the actual root cause, will forfeit your opportunities of helping them in the future.
Why do I feel like I don’t belong here, after I’ve already been accepted? Heavy suppressive fire, pathological fears, and debilitating doubt; to the point of almost being paralyzed; and you don’t know what to do with yourself, or the rest of day, or your situation altogether. Or worse, you are held back from doing what you know you’re supposed to be doing. Moses, called of God to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt, dealt with the very same issue of debilitating doubt.
God said, “Go” and Moses contended, “What if they won’t listen to me?”
God replied with signs to give Pharaoah, to demonstrate that the LORD had indeed appeared unto Moses, and had commanded him to bring out the children of Israel. Notwithstanding, Moses continued to insist that he was not qualified for the job.
Moses was scared and he was doubtful; fearful and unable to move forward. He was under heavy suppressive fire of the enemy. In Exodus 4:10, Moses said unto the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.”
Something to keep in mind is that this statement comes after God had already spoken to a series of other complaints and concerns that Moses had lodged previously, but here Moses was still unable to move forward: he was still unable to bring himself to the point of trusting that God was going to do all that he said he would do. This of course frustrated the Lord, and understandably so, especially after having made numerous attempts to reassure Moses of who was really in control, even saying, “Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?”
When it comes to God’s will for our lives, we will not always get to know all the details in advance, but we are expected to go when the Lord says “Go,” in spite of our every hesitation and fear. And when the command has been given, that becomes our charge to go and our authority. God said to Moses, “Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” And this is the same expectation God would have of us.
It is always far easier said than done: to believe something that you have not yet seen, and to trust. Admittedly, what makes it so hard is the anxiety of worry in our chest, and the debilitating doubt and pathological fear that we can’t seem to let go of, in order that we might be able to step out by faith, and commit.
Imagine being at the bank of a raging river with no way to cross, but then off in the distance you notice a bridge. At first glance, it looks safe to cross, and so you do. But now consider how the experience of crossing this bridge would be different if the guard rails were removed entirely; but you were still expected to cross. It changes everything!
Nevertheless, the Lord calls, saying “Trust me. Go, and I will teach you; I will give you what you need when the time comes. Right now, you don’t need what you think you need; to step out by faith and simply trust and obey. You don’t need the guard rails that you think you need. You don’t need all the plans and the details, and whatever else is holding you back!”
You see, once you’ve been given the command to go; you know that you’ve been called and you know that you’ve been accepted; you know what is required of you and you know what is expected of you; and there is really nothing obstructing you: once you know, you need to go!
But Moses still refused, saying, “O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.” And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses; and Aaron is chosen to be the spokesperson instead.
What I also find interesting about this passage is that God was already aware of Aaron’s abilities, saying, “Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well.” And yet, it was Moses whom God deliberate chose, similar to how I was chosen by this worship team, in spite of the number of other more qualified, experienced, professional musicians–which I learned in the days following my first performance, were among us, even sitting in the audience that day–which God could have called instead.
I felt so strongly that I was unworthy of being in their presence (after all, this was a group of true worshippers who are just as ever authentic backstage, as they are onstage), especially when all I’ve heard up to this point is that I wasn’t wanted; and when I was chosen, it was almost as if I couldn’t accept being accepted, anymore than Moses could accept being chosen by God to serve in a leadership role to which he was being called, and merely just relay the words God would, in His own time, give him to say.
Unfortunately, Moses doesn’t provide us with great guidance on how to rectify this issue of debilitating doubt, anymore than Thomas or Peter in the New Testament. However, what I can relate in this situation, from my own experience, is that when you’ve past the “checkpoint” of being accepted, you can still struggle with feeling like you don’t belong: “Where is this [debilitating doubt] coming from and why is it here? It does not belong here!”
As I wrestled with these lies that existed before the checkpoint, I found myself crying out to God about what I was struggling with. In this moment, I was giving to the Lord these lies I still felt, and these feelings of being alone, abandoned, not being wanted, not having a place or a purpose; and not being accepted, even after already being accepted. And while “just giving it to God” may sound cliché, it is the very same thing you need to do when you find yourself in situations like these. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, he wilt not despise.
Takeaway: It is okay to admit to God (as you should anyways) and give to him what it is you’re struggling with, even in your pain, sufferings, anxiety, and doubts. Bring all of it to God; lay it all open before him; open up your heart to him; show him your pain; show him the things you struggle with; cry a good cry, and let him begin to do a work in your heart: to restore the joy of your salvation, to increase your faith day-by-day; and move you from being arrested by debilitating doubt, to being cautiously optimistic for the future that God has in store for us, even though we can’t see it; to be able to accept by faith what we cannot see by sight.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:6-9)