My Greatest Personal Struggle (and How God’s Healing)

Erik Cooper —  June 29, 2011 — 11 Comments

As my posse and I approached the front of the auditorium, she dropped her headset and ran to embrace us.

“Erik, how are you? So great to see you! How’s the church? The family? Let me call down front and see if they have your seats ready.”

Hillsong United had come to town. The U2 of church music was prepping to turn it up to eleven, and since we were technically signed to the same music label, I was getting the rock star treatment from event coordinators. Not just free tickets, we had an entire section reserved for our team. A personal escort. And a giant bowl of all green m&m’s. (OK, no m&m’s, but that would have been sweet, right?).

Can I be honest? I liked it.

I (thought I) knew who I was. A respected songwriter. People were singing songs I helped write in churches all over the globe. We had an album released in over 160 countries. I felt strong. Respected. At the top of my craft.

People treated me as special, so I felt important.

Four months later, God swept me into an entirely new adventure. Church planter.

Anonymity. Small crowds. Smaller salary. Unnoticed dirty work. Lots of mistakes. Down in the trenches. Where the only m&m’s you get are the ones people accidentally dropped on the street in front of you.

I was invisible (or deemed crazy) to most people, so I felt small.

And so began a painfully brutal personal journey I’ve been on for over two years now. One I win some days, and lose on others. A fracture in my foundation that I’m determined to allow God to heal.

I allow people and circumstances to define how I see myself. I fear man.

On any given day, I can feel competent. Strong. Wise. Creative. Important.

Or I can embrace shame. Fear. Weakness. Insecurity. Less than. All based on subconscious reads I get from the people and circumstances around me.

Succumbing to the moment avoids conflict. Avoiding conflict side-steps rejection. Side-stepping rejection limits pain.

Eliminating pain imprisons the real you. The one God created you to be.

It’s sin.

I’m repentant.

And God is slowly but surely healing me, helping me find my true and constant identity in Him, whether the world treats me like a rock star or a bumbling idiot. In Christ I am God’s son, in whom He is well pleased. You can be, too.

“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.”
-Proverbs 29:25 MSG

Does your identity ever change as you encounter different people or circumstances? Do you subconsciously define yourself by the praise or criticism of others? I’d love to hear some of your stories. Your struggles and your victories.

11 responses to My Greatest Personal Struggle (and How God’s Healing)

  1. Huh… this is interesting. Fantastic really. I met you in Nashville a few years ago, right before you launched City Community, and I have been following you ever since. Has it really been two years? I am pretty sure I would not be following you had you not made the jump that truly seems to be the one keeping you answering your calling and heading towards your destiny. The destiny that God has in mind for you. The destiny that is so incredible, you would not be able to comprehend its magnificence. So… yeah – I think you’re on to something here. I am pretty sure the world has enough people living their ego’s truth. It’s pretty inspiring to watch individuals living God’s Truth. I live in Florida, but I have been a huge fan of you and Nathan. Don’t stop. Keep struggling; but don’t stop. Fantastic stuff.

  2. It’s crazy when God calls you on the carpet and aks you the question Who are you doing this for any way?. Or,are you doing this for me or so that people can see that you are doing it.
    Those are the questions that race throuh my mind and in the stillness I hear my small voice cry back for you Lord help me to always remember that.
    Keep up the good work and remember it’s all for Him and good and faithfull is what you are.
    Be Blessed

  3. I’ve had several “identity crisis” times in my life! But God has worked me out of and through each one! At one point I thought I was through and had mastered this thing, but it keeps happening in each new stage of life that God is taking me to! When I became a stay at home Mom I struggled for a long time! I was no longer doing work that was noticed or appreciated by the masses, and any glamour and admiration or validation that was once in my life was replaced instantly by slimy fingers and ongoing demands. I’ve since come to terms and learned out to maximize this season, but I feel you! I love that you write about stuff that we just don’t openly talk about! It’s brilliant, and God is faithful to always see us and be nonimpressed and impressed with us at the same time! 🙂

  4. At the risk of sounding like your mother, this is another great post. 🙂

    Remind me to tell my story on this topic at our next lunch.

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