Here’s one of my husband, Larry’s, stories in our book:

I, Larry, remember as a child in Sunday School protecting myself from the ridicule of others about my poor public reading skills. It would just kill me when the teacher would have the group read a passage of Scripture by asking each student to read one verse, going around the circle. I was always grateful when the reading order allowed me to count ahead. I would find “my” verse and then recount to make sure I didn’t miscount. Then, oblivious to the content of the material, I would read in my mind each word of my verse over and over. It helped me to feel in control.

Even now I can vividly remember the tension that quivered inside me as a seven-year-old boy.  I must not be exposed as weak!

Now as an adult, I attend a weekly men’s Bible study and at the start of each lesson, the teacher calls upon one of us to open in prayer. I can remember thinking, “Call on me please. I have something to share that is rich.” Why was that?  Because I always came prepared with some scripture and a written prayer. I remember thinking this was good stuff that would edify us all. 

This was even more important to me because on occasion, I would fill in for that teacher. I needed to be thought of well by those men so that when I taught the lesson my words would be well-regarded.

Paul David Tripp says, “God will take you where you haven’t chosen to go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own.” In time, I saw the truth: God wanted me to feel the weight of my sin against him when I protected my image of a mature Christian leader in the eyes of those men. Just like the little boy, I was determined to insure others thought well of me and my position.

When I became aware of my sin, I asked God to forgive me. I surrendered by not going to class with a prepared prayer. I prayed, “Lord, even if I’m seen in a negative light and not regarded as a strong Christian, I will trust that you know what you’re doing. I will cry out to you in prayer in that moment trusting your leading. You know how to minister to the needs of others. I’ll trust in that.”

Is there a way that you are trying to protect your image and you see now that you are rejecting God’s identity of you as his child? His image of you because of your inheritance in Christ is never changing. Isn’t that better than the unpredictable approval of others?

(This article is excerpted from Never Ever Be the Same (Leafwood Publishers) which offers Christians hope that they can change their ungodly reactions through identifying their self-protective strategies and trusting God instead.