Katy Perry, Firework, And My Own Unresolved Teenage Insecurities

A grown man sitting at his work desk in tears??? Yeah, I blame it on Katy Perry…

Let me explain. There I was working at my desk on an otherwise normal Saturday morning. Amidst the routine and ritual I decided to take a momentary break, a few minutes to just close my eyes and catch my breath before diving back into the seemingly endless pool of Excel spreadsheets and customer invoices. So, I plugged in my headphones, opened up Windows Media Player, and selected a song that had just recently been introduced into my very limited world of social awareness, “Firework” by Katy Perry. (Honestly? I had never heard the song until last week when I took my son to go see “Madagascar 3.” Told you I was socially unaware…)

Before the song reached the second stanza I was in tears.

Now, just in case you don’t know, I am 45 years old. I am not a teenager. Or at least I don’t think I am. But perhaps it’s that very uncertainty that is the driving force behind this blog. It has been over 25 years since I was a teenager. Decades have passed since those long ago days of yesteryear. Much has changed. I’m married (22 years). I have children (3 of them). I spent quite a bit of time as a missionary and pastor (over 20 years). I’ve put on weight (not going there :)). My hair is beginning to gray, my metabolism has slowed down, and my body constantly reminds me that I am no longer 18. Yep, much has changed. But in some ways, it seems like so little has changed…

I still struggle with a deep-rooted insecurity about who I am. Within me there is still this tremendous need for validation… for affirmation… for acceptance and unconditional love. In so many ways I still wrestle under the weight of feeling like I will never measure up, that nothing I do is ever good enough, that my life will always be defined by my failures and shortcomings. There are still days when I look in the mirror and cringe at the reflection. I want. I wrestle. I worry. And I wonder. I want so desperately to be wanted, to feel needed. I wrestle with my own sense of expectation and disappointment. I worry that people won’t like me, that they will reject me. On so many days I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where you could just be yourself, where the mask of public approval could be tossed aside, where we could live in the gloriously liberating light of honesty, vulnerability, and real love.

I know. I have issues. (But I’m not really that different from most people. I just put my issues on the internet for the whole world to see.) At any rate, the song touched a part of me that still struggles to find expression even at 45 years of age. And in that moment the tears of so many years of unresolved insecurity found fresh expression…

You don’t have to feel like a wasted space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
And when it’s time, you’ll know

I am primarily writing today to remind myself, and anyone else who might be reading this, that our God only deals in masterpieces. Everything He does is good. Everything He has created is good. He doesn’t make junk. He doesn’t make garbage. He only makes treasure. And that includes myself (and you too for that matter). Even at 45 years of age I still have to remind myself that my worth comes from Him. I was created by Him. I am loved by Him. I am accepted by Him. I am wanted by Him in spite of all my imperfections, shortcomings, and constant failings.

Yes, there are still days when I feel like a plastic bag caught in the wind, wanting to start again. Yes, there are times when I feel paper-thin, one blow away from caving in. Yes, there are many times when I feel buried deep inside myself, wanting to scream but no one is listening. But the truth is that my feelings are powerless to change the reality of His love for me. His passion for me knows no limits. And He proved it once and for all times when He took my place on the Cross. Because He loved me, He also died for me.

Katy was right. The song was right. There is a spark inside of me… the person of Jesus Christ. In Him I have the answer to all my struggles. I am wanted… by Him. I need not wrestle with my own false expectations… He loves me unconditionally. I need not worry about being rejected… He has accepted me because of His sacrifice. And I need not wonder about being myself… He is the One who created me. In Him all my insecurities are laid to rest. I just need to stop measuring myself by the mirror and the opinions of others and, instead, start measuring myself by the Cross.

Now, that’s good news. In fact, if you don’t mind, I feel like dancing. Boom, boom, boom (check out the video below to see more)…

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