Have you ever felt like you went too far? That you were too vulnerable with someone? That you were standing right at the brink of feeling out of control? Wondering if you would be pushed over and taken advantage of?
We have all been in these situations.
Often, we share and open up, only to feel sorry we did, only to feel put down or only to feel a recipient of unwanted advice.
I understand. It can feel easy to want to hide, to cover our heads, to shut down, to close off, to get defensive and to self protect. I do these things all the time because sharing is risky. Being open is threatening. People's responses are uncertain. It's sometimes easier to stay on steady ground.
Standing completely open to another's reactions, views and perceptions threatens to redefine who we are - or simply hurt us at our very core. It makes us feel like others hold control.
And, none of us like being acted upon - to feel unsure where things are going. It can feel too much to handle. Overwhelming. It's much easier to avoid these situations by maintaining control.
This way, we can avoid doubt, self-reflection and feelings of inadequacy. We can avoid wondering if we will be accepted, judged or criticized. We can avoid worrying about others worrying about us. We can avoid worrying about being punished for our beliefs.
At the bottom of it all, we fear others, we fear ourselves and we fear we won't be loved. We fear we are not good enough and others will know.
And, sometimes these fears feel justified. We remember what happened the last time we were in a position like this, we remember the result and we remember our feelings. It was hard. Painful. Damaging. So, when we come against it again, we stand afraid - ready to fight - or take flight. Either way, we know we aren't going to be treated the same way as last time.
What are we to do? How are we to be honest, transparent and vulnerable with others when we constantly feel in fear? How can we move towards relationship without feeling like we need to move away?
God has been stirring up these questions in my heart lately. I know he wants me to see beyond fear, but often I wonder how. I am coming to the realization that I will never feel completely fearless with others; I will never feel completely safe based on who I am. It is impossible. We are all fallen.
And, I will never be completely good enough by my own merit, so if that is my goal - it is unattainable.
Only One makes us good enough, only One can be our refuge in a time of trouble, only One can be our rock when our ground is sinking and only One can be our hope when life is hopeless.
I know these things. I do. But, talk is cheap and the heart is what counts.
I don't want to be a talking testimony; I want to be a walking testimony.
God sees my desire. He is opening my eyes. Gently, He is revealing truth - to change my perspective and to make me effective.
He captured my eye with just a couple words in His Word that made all the difference in my world.
The Lord said to me, "You are sealed."
(He) set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor. 1:22)
On face value, this may not appear the answer to all fear. But, these words have a powerful ripple effect that extends to the deepest levels of our hearts.
Why? Because being sealed means that we are enveloped in love. Like a letter wrapped in a sealed envelope, we are entirely covered above and below - wrapped by the ownership and power of the Holy Spirit. It covers us. Nothing can penetrate the seal or the mark of the Spirit.
Because we are in Him, our ultimate security is secure. We are sealed. Shut. Marked. Owned. Sent. Made right.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit… (Eph. 1:13)
The King's seal is on our hearts.
If he took the time to seal us, won’t he protect us? Guard us? Ensure we are ok? Help us forgive? Encourage us to speak his truth with love?
Afterall, we are his letter and words to all nations.
In this, we don't have to live scared. If God stands with us, who in the world can ever stand against us (Ro. 8:31). At our deepest levels we are secure.
People can say or do what they are going to do, but it doesn't matter, because the seal of the Spirit keeps us safe. Nothing can change that seal. The Spirit forever marks us.
And, when we have been marked, we have been marked as belonging to the Lord. We are united. One. He will help us. He will not abandon us. He knows us. He approves of us because of Him. We are protected.
But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. (1 Cor. 6:17)
How could God destroy his very self?
Even if, in the moment, we are threatened - or at worst - taken advantage of, God always has the advantage. He always has a plan. He knows a way. He has a vision.
Do we trust Him?
We need not fear being hunted, threatened or hurt because – in the end – God will always be victorious. In fact, he already is. He has already won the battle. It is finished. Because of this, the battles of present day can lose their sting, because Jesus endured the ultimate sting.
Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (Jo. 19:30)