woman-confidence

{Editor’s Note: This is Part 3 of Jennifer’s series, where previously she shared her personal struggle with negative thinking (Part 1), rejection (Part 2) and here, her struggle with insecurity. We hope Jennifer’s willingness to share candidly about her personal struggles will help you and/or someone you love who struggles. God is a God of redemption and He is able.}

Insecurity…

For the past several years I’ve been helping to teach and lead Bible studies at my church. Though I said no for a couple years before reluctantly agreeing, I have really enjoyed it. I love to communicate my heart for Jesus and to tell others my stories of how Jesus has changed me and showed me more of him.

We have another teacher at our church. She’s adorable—petite, thin, lovely blond hair, and super smart. In many ways she has always seemed so capable. When she gets up to teach, it’s like attending a seminary class. She’s a dear friend, but I’ve struggled to not compare.

When she had her fourth baby and had to increase her work hours as a nurse practitioner in a clinic for disadvantaged women (did I tell you she was awesome?!), I took over most of the teaching responsibility and found my niche.

After about four years, she finally felt ready to come back. I was thankful, although a bit worried. Would the church ask me to teach anymore? Would others be so glad to have her back, they’d want to shove me out the door?

Last spring as our current study drew to a close, I announced that our other teacher would be returning to teach the summer and fall studies. I can’t tell you how many women came up to me, gushing over their excitement. They said things like:

  • She’s so amazing!
  • I just love her classes!
  • We can’t wait until she comes back! We always learn so much.
  • And a couple people just grinned like I’d handed out free chocolate.

Um…wow. I felt GREAT—I mean, the opposite of great. Can anyone relate? Inside, each comment felt like a dig toward me. When someone said she was a good teacher, it felt like they were indirectly saying I wasn’t. The song in my heart became one of failure and hurt.

Some of this relates back to Part 1 and Part 2 in this series about negative thinking and rejection, and I think negative thinking, rejection, and insecurity all kind of lump together like a mud pie complete with rocks and bits of grass.

As far as insecurity goes, I could have told ten thousand stories to demonstrate my struggle with it. For as long as I can remember, insecurity has nipped at my heels (and bitten me on the rear).

I’m not entirely sure where it came from. In Beth Moore’s book So Long Insecurity, she lists out some possible roots of insecurity, Perhaps my biggest root is my natural predisposition to worry and be sensitive. I’m highly intuitive and feel deeply. In fact, many of my memories are rooted in feelings rather than events. My sharpest memories are often the ones that resulted in my feeling ashamed or embarrassed.

Whatever the root, I’ve subconsciously tried many different techniques over the years to cover this insecurity. In my youth and early twenties I attached to overly controlling friends and tried to compensate for my insecurity by seeking security in relationships with boys. In my mid-twenties and into my thirties, I sought perfectionism as a cure for my insecurity. My subconscious seemed to reason that if I could ACT good enough, then maybe I’d FEEL good enough.

I’ve since come to realize that perfection is the mask so many of us wear on to cover up what is really a deep root of insecurity. Like kids playing dress up, we use this mask of perfection like body armor, trying to protect ourselves and prove to the world (and really, to ourselves) that we are good enough.

Insecurity has come out in other ways in my life too. I worry that since I don’t look like a magazine model or a fitness instructor, that I must not be attractive to my husband. I’ve resisted inviting people over to my house because I didn’t want them to reject me because it wasn’t perfect. I’ve overcleaned my house for the same reasons.

Just writing this makes me exhausted!

In some ways, having a child with special needs has helped me overcome some of this. I can no longer pretend my little corner of the world has any perfection because it’s usually a big mess (as I’ve mentioned over the years in MomLife posts). My daughter with her autism, OCD, IDD, and severe language impairment, has her own way of organizing the world. That means hanging things like grubby Kleenex in her closet and having a tantrum when she finds I’ve again thrown them away. And she ALWAYS notices. She thinks things like seams and tags on clothes are wrong, wrong, wrong. Not just her clothes. ALL the clothes and sheets and towels and even underwear in the house. So she rips them out. That means most of our clothes, including my husband’s work shirts, wind up with holes in them. I could go on, but you get the idea.

I can’t even remotely pretend to have it all together. In fact, I wouldn’t know IT if it landed in my lap.

But I still have some roots of that old insecurity that I’m working to dig out.

As I’m preparing to start a new Bible study series at my church (and to once again follow in the footsteps of my amazing Bible study teaching friend), I’ve been watching Beth Moore’s Entrusted videos. (I promise, I do read other teachers. These just happened to beautifully build on the same concept). In her Entrusted video series, Beth talks about our “always beens.”

I have “always been” insecure. I’ve never not struggled with it. Have you ever felt that way? Maybe it’s not insecurity, but do you have a struggle you feel like will always be there?

As I’m learning with my own struggle toward insecurity, our “always has been” don’t have to be our “always will be.”

There is freedom. Can I get an amen?

One of my childhood acquaintances developed a cocaine habit in his late teens. I didn’t see him for several years, but ran into him late in my college years. He was applying to enter seminary and writing Bible studies! His story is one of beautiful victory. God got a hold of him through a series of events (including the fervent prayers of his sister and her Bible study group—prayer is important and powerful!). I hope to never forget the excitement on his face when he told me the story of his encounter with Jesus. He basically said when he came to his senses and had a moment of clarity, he didn’t just walk to God. He ran to him. It was hard work—constantly turning to scripture and prayer. But God changed him in a deep, miraculous way.

God can change us too. There is a song by Jeremy Camp called Same Power that I’m listening to as I write. If we are in Christ, the same power that moves mountains lives in us. We do not serve a wimpy or half-hearted God.

We serve the one and only true God who breathed all creation into existence. He always has been, and always will be. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere all at once. The marvels in the night sky—stars so huge the earth would not even register as a speck of dust in comparison—all those were created from the breath of God. The same God who took a dead man and raised him from the dead and promises us that through his sacrifice all our sins would be forgiven. This same all-powerful, all-knowing God, the God of all wisdom, cares deeply and infinitely for us. And he can (and will) change us.

Rethinking our position:

One of the best ways to retrain your brain and put a new song in your heart is by delving into scripture.

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Entire sermons could be preached on the few words in that verse. What I want to stress to you is that God has called you to him. He is always calling us into relationship with him. And he’s given us his word to help us know him. That Word, His Word, is alive. It changes us. God’s Word has the power to change us. God will equip us for every good work he has planned for us. He will put a new song in our hearts—his song. He has given us his Word.

When negative or insecure thoughts or feelings of rejection chase after you like rabid junk yard dogs: “You’re not good enough, that person hurt you, you should be angry, you should feel so alone, that person’s opinion defines you…” join me and utter a loud NOPE and then search for a scripture to back it up.

I’ve been working on that in my own life.

When I started feeling insecure about the Bible study teacher mentioned above, I thought, “That’s in God’s hands.” I thanked God for her gifts, and thanked God for my gifts. I thanked God that our gifts were unique and from Him. God has gifted us all differently and beautifully to do what he has called us to do. We are all different, a tapestry of beauty. We do not have to worry when our gifts our different. Instead, we can thank God for the gifts he’s given us and pray for wisdom in how to use them.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of good works, which Christ prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

We are daughters of God. His precious princesses. Everyone doesn’t have to like us or approve of us (although that’s not a free pass to be unkind). We don’t have to please everyone. We can’t worry about what they are thinking, and WE DON’T HAVE TO!

What freedom that brings. Our worth is determined by God, not by what someone else thinks of us. The song I keep trying to rewrite in my heart is that God loves us, He will change us, and we only have to worry about him—and he gives grace! That is the song we need in our hearts, the song that will change us from the inside out.

Are you familiar with the “stop, drop, and roll” saying about fire? We can apply the same thing to these battles with insecurity and “I’m not good enough” thoughts. We have to…

Stop: “…Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor 10:5 (NIV)

Drop some thanks: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Phil 4:6-7 (Msg) (Since many of us are quite familiar with this verse, I chose the Message version to give it a fresh perspective for our hearts.)

Roll over our old thoughts with God’s word: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Col 3:16 (NIV)

So, don’t worry if you walk past me or drive next to me and hear a loud NOPE. That’s just me, stop, drop, and rolling my insecurity to the curb and putting a new song in my heart.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1-3

Here are some other verses I have used when I’m feeling insecure and trying to put a new song in my heart:

When I feel alone, I remember God is with me.

Psalm 23:4 “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”

Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

Psalm 91:2 “I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

When I feel weak, God is my strength.

Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”