For as long as I could remember, I misunderstood inferiority as humility.
I had a lot of insecurities growing up. However, I thought it is much safer to act that way than to be an arrogant person.
As the word of God rebukes me daily, I have learnt that inferiority and pride are no different. They serve a common purpose: hindering us from working effectively in God-given mission in our lives.
Same Thing, Different Packaging.
Just like pride, inferiority makes us full of ourselves. We may defend ourselves by saying, I'm not showering myself with self-glorification. Rather, people should feel sorry for me because I feel suffocated with self-criticism. But, guess who the center of that problem is. It's still me, myself, and I. While the proud craves for the spotlight and praise, the inferior longs for comfort and reassurance. Different routes, but both lead to the same “look at me” mentality. Hence, we forget to fix our eyes on the tasks we are commissioned to do; walking through a long and bumpy road to love God and His people. Our energy has been drained by self-doubt and constant thirst for validation.
C.S. Lewis said that true humility is “not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.”
Christian humility is about self-forgetfulness. It is what Jesus stated as “die to oneself.” The humble ones realize that the world does not revolve around them. When we think about ourselves less, we can think about Christ more. This is our goal, to find sole contentment in the steadfast love of God, and not to depend on other people for sufficiency and wholeness.
Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash
Focusing too much on our imperfections only leave us stuck. Moreover, we will be trapped in endless comparison games with people. We find it hard to celebrate others’ success because we view them as competitor. This evil cycle later brings us to greater isolation. While the proud are alienating themselves by rejecting certain people who are 'not eligible' and living exclusively, the inferior also build the exact same wall when we feel like we are never good enough for anybody. Both distance ourselves from God and other people. Both are busy curating life here and there so that our cracks can remain unseen.
We are crippled by fear to make authentic connections. We hide behind the door when dealing with vulnerability. Meanwhile, redeemed believers are called to be inclusive, relevant, and open-armed; just like what Jesus did.
Greatly Used On The Hand Of The Almighty.
Psychologically speaking, our inner self—including our inferiority—is indeed influenced by many complex factors. One of them is the way our parents raise us. I am no exception.
Growing up in an unstable home environment, I never really felt secure throughout my childhood. All these times, I used to put my worth around the reality of my family. Without realizing it, I often blame my history for causing self-loathing, self-defense, and so on.
As I study biblical truths about human identity, I find deeper root that truly damages the very existence of our core, namely the reality of sin. We all are prone to this. The entire world suffers from its impacts. And for this very issue, the Gospel is the only medicine.
Photo by Robb Leahy on Unsplash
I do not intend to simplify the mental chaos of humans by saying that the Scriptures will solve all problems overnight. My experience of working at a counseling center has opened my eyes to how many Christians, especially servants of God, come with various inner struggles.
However, it is critically important for us to know that we have the choice to change the narrative. Perhaps we cannot unlearn all false beliefs that we have absorbed for too long, but we are capable to rise again from the helplessness we learn. We need to base our value on who God says about us: imperfect beings who are perfectly loved by their Creator.
In his book titled The Gift of Being Yourself, David G. Benner wrote, ‘There is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self, and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God.’
We are made in the image of God. The process of sinking deeper into the depths of the Scripture is fundamentally crucial so that we are able to anchoring our brokenness into His wholeness.
I find it somehow liberating; to slowly learn to make peace with myself and its reality, and to let God create something out of my personal decay.
The Bible has shown us many living testimonies throughout history. Moses, Jeremiah, Peter, and all other men and women of God have also stumbled on self-doubt when they first received God's call. Yet we know the rest of the story. They were greatly used in the hands of the Almighty.
Christ is Enough for Me
While writing this article, I was listening to a song from Hillsong Worship titled “So Will I.” There are some part of the lyrics that resonate with me personally:
"And as You speak,
a hundred billion galaxies are born.
In the vapor of Your breath the planets form.
If the stars were made to worship so will I..."
I usually visualize this song by recalling some memories when I was traveled by plane, sitting near the window. There was an intense sense of insignificance in me as I observed the wide blue sky and the green islands down there.
Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash
At that moment of awe, I tried to imagine how passionate God was when He crafted the mountains, valleys, rivers, and oceans. Suddenly I felt like a tiny little dust compared to all the wonders of the universe.
The strange part is, instead of making me feel unworthy, the beautiful scenery reminds me that He is the same Lord who fearfully and wonderfully made me in my mother's womb.
That great God personally knew me, saw me, and cared for me, to the point that He gave everything He had for me. That great God, who had emptied Himself and left a glorious throne to came as a human being, bore the death for my sin.
Stunned by that specific memory, I grasped new realization. If such sacrifice is still not enough to make me stand in the true balance of confidence in Christ, I wonder what else would do. If such God is still not enough to prove that I have been accepted, forgiven, and loved, I wonder who else had to come and convince me again.
I gradually learned that Christ, after all, is enough.
It may takes a lifetime to truly wrap our lives around that truth, but let us take one step at a time to really put our hope in the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Look up To The Cross
At times when feelings of inadequacy shake me again, I remind myself to immediately run towards God instead of wallowing in self-pity.
I choose to worship and let His name calm my inner storm. Though sometimes my adoration gets mixed with fears and tears, I know His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in my weakness. Of course it is normal to feel scared and weak, but always remember the keyword: look up.
Look up, beyond yourself! Look up, beyond your feelings!
Look up, to the need of other people we serve. There we will find our existence can make a difference in one’s life. Most importantly, look up, to the cross. There we can find a rare kind of love that lavishly overflows to cover our past, our shame, and our pain.
And when God calls us to go out of our shell: to serve, to give, and to love far more than what we can imagine—even in a strange and uncomfortable territory—may we all be confident enough to receive such a call without any second guessing.
Christ alone is our perfect assurance. Remember how worthy we are in His eyes of love.
In Christ alone, my hope is found.
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This Cornerstone, this solid ground.
Firm through the fiercest thought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace.
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease.
My Comforter, my All in All.
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
(In Christ Alone, Keith Geitty & Stuart Townend)