I recently took a personal inventory of how I respond under pressure. I realized that when I shut God or people out of my life, these four barriers are generally the source of my actions: insecurity, fear, need for control, and pride.
Sometimes we get tangled in a web of insecurity that feeds fear and craves control. Certain situations, environments or people can bring out these qualities in us. For example, when I am on a project deadline and loose ends start coming undone, my first reaction is to panic and shut down. This lack of control paralyzes me with fear that the outcome will be less than perfect. Then my insecurities begin to surface. My concern is that I will be seen as inadequate and will not be asked to take on such an important project again. My pride is threatened. Self-preservation kicks in, and sin is born.
When feeling threatened, it’s tempting to retreat to that web of insecurity and even easier to hide in prideful sin. This sort of mess isn’t easy to escape. It takes our powerful God to help us work our way out. It also takes people who can see into our lives to help us break destructive habits. These insecurities, fears, control issues and pride can form a wall that keeps love outside and pain inside. How do we invite God to work in these areas of our lives — especially when we are stuck inside of our heads and surrounded by chaos and stressful situations? Make a conscious decision to do the opposite of what self-preservation tells us to do. Let go and trust God.
Let’s see what the Bible says about overcoming these barriers and how to invite love into our lives:
Insecurity stems from doubt. It lacks confidence and trust in ourselves or someone else, such as God. Recognize where these feelings are coming from. Satan is an opportunist who will do anything to keep you from being made whole in God. He distorts your view of God, the world and yourself. If you’re competitive, think of overcoming sin as a race you can’t lose. Don’t let Satan win. Combat insecurity with faith in God and keep seeking Him: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:5–8).
Fear often stems from a lack of hope and love. A way to revive your hope is through prayer: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7). Replace your fear of the unknown with a healthy fear of the Lord — “a reverential awe” of God’s glory and power with “a proper respect for His wrath and anger” (fmchr.ch/feargq). If you truly know God, you trust that there is nothing to fear because He is on your side.
When everything feels out of control, know you are prayed for: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:26–28). Not much is actually in our control. This is a blessing. We often carry the burden of making everything turn out perfectly, but we don’t need to concern ourselves with perfection. God is in control. Remember: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
Pride is the ultimate wall that keeps God out. How do we get over ourselves and find freedom from our selfish ways? “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). The next time you’re feeling proud of yourself for helping a friend, pause and think about how God might have prompted and aided that interaction. Give all the glory to Him.
Invite God to work through the mess with you. Ask God what areas you are shutting Him out of. He’ll reveal them to you and transform you in ways you never thought possible.
- What qualities are keeping me from God?
- What steps can I take to break destructive habits?
- How am I going to make time every day to invite God into my life?