A Reminder for the Socially Paranoid

For whenever your heart condemns you...

Have you heard of social paranoia? Once a friend told me what this was, I was astounded there was a way to name these feelings. For me, social paranoia has characterized times where in an open office space, even hearing the content of my co-workers conversations, I am often worried that they are talking about me, and not in a good way. I am one who constantly has to make sure everyone around me likes me, needing to know where I stand, needing to know I have full approval at all times. This means a lot of second guessing myself, in almost every area of life.

Some of the hardest parts of me writing in general has been this social paranoia piece. “Are people thinking that I am prideful? Do they think this is awful? Are they judging me and now don’t think I am well suited to lead or serve them in any way? Do they think I’m only out to gain some sort of platform?” Those sorts of things.

To a degree, I may be able to shoo those thoughts away because I know that I am writing not for myself, but to hopefully propel others to look higher, to look to Jesus. I just want to be faithful. I write about my own personal journey not because I think I have reached the pinnacle, but because I hope my story helps bring others just maybe one more step further in understanding. My life is what I have to offer.

Yet sometimes, my heart goes further.

There’s a very specific warning for those who call themselves teachers of His Words:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
— James 3:1-2

This verse I take very seriously. I don’t think this verse is the problem, but the very way that Satan can take those warnings in my heart and twist them so that I never open my mouth. My heart condemns me, because I know I haven’t reached that height. I know I am not there.

Satan is half-right in that. I am a sinner. My heart SHOULD condemn me when I think about presenting my offering in front of a Holy God.

Yet, much like the famous quote that continues to find its place in every blog, pretty instagram picture, and tweet, by Robert Murray McCheyne, “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.”

When I look at Christ, I am reminded that my imperfect words, my impure heart, and my social paranoia can all be lost in Christ’s perfect words, His fully righteous work, and His blood shed for us. God is greater than my heart. Because of that blood and His defeat of death in the resurrection, condemnation doesn’t have power. He defeated it. When I unite myself to Him, my heart can no longer condemn me truthfully as I have the very thing that reminds me of the glorious gift of being His: the Spirit.

I need this reminder every single minute. My heart is prone to be socially paranoid. Yet, His blood has set me free from self-deprecation. His blood has set me free even if others do judge me. My heart is prone to want to gain acceptance from others with a perfect blog, a shiny instagram feed. Yet, His gift of new life through His victorious rise from the dead allows me to die to myself, and live a new life in full assurance and acceptance from One who isn’t fleeting. I continue to preach at myself instead of listening to a heart already but not yet.

So with the masses, the great cloud of witnesses, I will continue to say: “Lord I need you, every hour I need you.” With a heart prone to condemn, I am overwhelmed with joy that He is greater than my heart.