Written By Glen Wong, Singapore
I come from a loving family, and have great friends, but there have been days where I’ve felt like I was living under their shadow. All of them seemed to enjoy success in the areas of work, relationships, and ministry, while I seemed to keep losing out on academic and personal achievements. On top of that, I was always known as a “son”, “younger brother”, or “X’s friend”.
This feeling extended into ministry, where I felt like I was never “spiritually good enough” to lead. Whenever I tried to improve, I would be reminded of my shortcomings instead of my strengths. For instance, while serving in the worship ministry, some of the feedback I received included having “too much pride”, “too little experience”, “strong idealism” or “weak theology”.
I took these to mean that I was not good enough for anything and this led me to believe that I was the “second or third choice”, and that I would never be the “first”.
That lie ruled over every aspect of my life, and I unknowingly clung onto it for many years. As a result, I began to feel like I could not keep things together.
So for three years, whenever there was the slightest possibility of a conflict, I would experience an anxiety attack. I would panic out of the misbelief that I was at fault, bolstered by the thought that I couldn’t do things right or be somebody who mattered. Naturally, my perception and behavior didn’t just affect me, but others around me.
For a long time, I held on to the belief that having my issues exposed to others would only worsen the insecurity. However, during a particular church camp, something began to stir up within me, to ask the Holy Spirit: “What do you have to say?”
I Was Not the Only One
Part of the answer came during my quiet time, where my devotion passage was on Romans 3.
One of my biggest struggles was that I had equated “falling short” with not being able to live up to the expectations of others or myself. I thought it would be “noble” to be self-degrading, when in reality, it actually distorts the truth of the Bible.
So strangely enough, the rebuke that was meant to be convicting actually comforted me instead. It assured me that I was not the only messed up individual. In verses 10 and 23, the Apostle Paul gave a grim reminder that we all are sinners; that there was none righteous, and that all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
But because of Jesus’ death on the cross, God’s righteousness became available for all who believe in faith (Romans 3:22). When we believe, we are made right with God by His grace as a gift through what Jesus has done (Romans 3:24). It is only in Him, nowhere and no one else, that we have value.
An Ongoing Battle
Having said that, I still face an ongoing battle to bring my thoughts to obedience. The struggle to fall back into toxic patterns of thinking is real, but who God is and what He says is also real.
One key passage that I hold on to is Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works so that no one can boast.”
This has challenged me each time I wanted to try to prove my worth in my own strength. Ephesians 2:9b reminds me that “it is not by works so that no one can boast”. It is by His grace that I don’t have to strive to seek man’s approval. I know that he is pruning me so that I would bear even more fruit, even in my weakness.
In the future, should such thoughts come again, I shall remind myself of what Jesus had done for me.
Because His sacrifice is enough, I am made right with God.
Because I am made right with God, I belong to Him.
Because I belong to Him, I am enough.
Should people disagree, or disregard this truth, I shall continue to love them as how I’m loved by the Lord, resting in the truth that they don’t determine my value.