I got to spend last week with some wonderful women friends who have known me for years, who love and cherish me for the person I am. Leaving the safe, encouraging space of their company was tough, and I’ve been a little bit down since getting back to California. I’ve noticed myself struggling again with that familiar demon of insecurity.
But this week, I’ve been reminding myself that God doesn’t accept insecurity as an excuse.
In Exodus 3, God calls Moses to lead his enslaved people to freedom, but Moses is insecure. The midrash tells us that he spends seven days giving God one excuse after another to explain why he is unfit for the job. He was raised as Egyptian royalty, rather than with the Hebrews. He is a fugitive, running away from a murder he committed in secret. He doesn’t think the people will believe his message is from God. Further, he is a poor public speaker, “heavy” of tongue.
Moses is insecure about his ability to answer God’s call, so he refuses. As Avivah Zornberg writes:
So convinced is he of his own and his people’s inadequacy – his to make himself heard, theirs to respond to such a message – that he simply contradicts God’s version of the future. (The Particulars of Rapture, 28)
Wow! By letting his insecurities be more persuasive in his own heart than God’s empowerment, Moses is contradicting God’s version of the future!
And how does God respond to Moses’ insecurities? The text tells us that God gets angry! God has chosen and empowered Moses to carry this message to the Hebrew people; Moses is not in a place to deny the power of that call, no matter how unfit he perceives himself to be. It doesn’t anger God that Moses is flawed. What angers God is that Moses would use those flaws as excuses to deny God’s liberating power.
I’ve been thinking about that message in my own life. It is not my job to assess my own adequacy to live as a servant of God; it is my job to respond to God’s empowerment with trust and to live in the fullness that I already am.
And that knowledge is liberating! Since I don’t have to spend time critiquing my own fitness — spiritual, intellectual, physical, or emotional — I am freed to just rejoice in being the person God designed me to be. As church father Ireanaeus wrote: “The glory of God is man fully alive!” Allowing insecurity to hold power in our lives hampers our ability to live fully alive.
What prevents you from living into fullness of life? What self-image do you need to challenge in order to step boldly into God’s version of your future?