My pride almost kept me from writing this blog post.
For my entire life I’ve fought with depression, anxiety, and uncontrollable fear. I’ve never had the confidence to make decisions that need to be made. I need constant affirmation. When I am in a social situation in which I’m not in control, I get painfully uncomfortable.
I have a laundry list of phobias. I’m scared of heights, small spaces, large crowds, public speaking, rejection, riding in a car that I am not driving, boating, and flying. I’m sure there is more that I’ve forgotten. A glance at that list will probably make you think that I have control issues. You would be right.
My fear of rejection has bred a sub-fear of intellectual inferiority. I hate being the person in a group that knows the least about a subject. What do I do to build up my prideful façade? I read books that I want people to know that I read. I listen to bands that have artistic credibility. I see movies that other people won’t like. A byproduct of doing this is that I haughtily discredit things that I see as having no value.
I make fun of the books you read. I make fun of the movies you like. I make jokes about how your favorite band is best listened to while doing a keg stand at a frat party (there I go again).
In my recent foray into reading theology I completely wrote off any author that didn’t play into my intellectual boundaries. If someone wasn’t well respected as an intellectual, I didn’t want to read them. I wanted to feel smart. I wanted to justify myself with my intellect.
Let me paint this picture a little more vividly.
Here I am (someone with anxiety, depression, and fear issues) reading about a God who repeatedly reminds us that He resists the proud and glorifies the humble. All the while, I am reading the books that I am reading in order to build up my prideful perceptions of myself.
…and I wondered why I was still dealing with anxiety, depression, and fear issues…
So what does God do about this? He resists the proud and glorifies the humble… just like He promised.
Someone recommended that I read the book “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer. I don’t have any problem with Joyce Meyer. In fact, up to this point I didn’t really know much about her. All that I knew is that Joyce Meyer was very popular in the TBN-style charismatic circles… and that I liked feeling superior to people like that.
Why would someone who reads deep, intellectual theology want to read someone like Joyce Meyer?
Well, I did read it. I read “Battlefield of the Mind”.
And guess what… It was filled with cliché Christian wording. It was filled with charismatic lingo. It was filled with all sorts of things that I normally scoff at.
But, more importantly, it was filled with some incredible insight into my issues.
There were times when I literally felt like I was reading a manuscript of my mental instabilities. Chapter after chapter she shared keys and tools to helping me win control over my trouble, anxiety-filled mind. I was astounded.
God used a book that I would have never read to break down a barrier that I had struggled with my entire life. God put down my pride to change my life.
Now, by the grace of God, my mind is more at ease and peaceful than I can ever remember it being.
The answer to my issues was not in the pursuit of the most intellectual books written by the smartest teachers (not that Joyce Meyer isn’t smart… you know what I mean). The answer to my issues was me humbling myself and accepting that I can gain knowledge from a place that I would have never allowed myself to venture.
I want to encourage you to search for God in places you wouldn’t normally look. This looks different for different people.
Look for God in things you disagree with, in things you find intellectually inferior, in things you fight against, in things you don’t understand. Hold firm to your beliefs, but don’t miss an opportunity to let God shape you through an unlikely source.
Every time God has revealed something profound and life-changing to me it has come from a source that I didn’t respect. I think that I should probably change where I look for things.
James 4:6 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”