Insecurity: Problematic or Pitiable?4:20 AM
If you've read my blog long enough, you know I struggle with insecurity. I love verbal affirmation -- a daily diet of I love yous and you're beautifuls. Take that away and I hole up into myself and struggle not to doubt good intentions and second-guess actions. And I guess that became a part of my identity, part of the rest of my life. Which depressed me a bit, because it seemed to be creating problems for other people and frustrating me: I knew people loved me, so why did I not feel loved?
Talking to other girls, I quickly learned this problem was not isolated only to me. It's epidemic. I fit right in with the worriers, the naggers, the fearfuls, the insecure girls wondering from a distance if their acne or weight or speech volume or intelligence level or sinfulness bothers anyone else as much as it does them. Because this insecurity cut all the way across womankind, I felt both trapped and relieved -- trapped because, oh, well, I'm a woman and thus insecure; relieved because phew -- I'm not the only one.
That led to complacency. Insecurity was just something I was: Yes, I'm messy. Yes, I'm messed up. Hey, I can't help it. I'll try, try, try to be perfect, but I'm not, so I'd really appreciate if people mopped up my mess for me.
The problem? Insecurity led to worry, anxiety, unloving expectations and self-absorption -- none of which belong in the list of spiritual fruits. In fact, Scripture repeatedly tells us that we are to trust, surrender, not worry, love others instead of ourselves, and forget ourselves to focus on Christ. And then James thrusts his oar into my complacent wallowing with the quiet reminder, "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin" (James 4:17).
That could not be, I argued with myself. This is the touchiest, tenderest area in many girls' lives -- this desire to be loved, wanted, affirmed. Surely not. I respond with pity and sympathy and patience with insecure girls, for I myself desire pity, sympathy and patience. Then I remembered the whole concept of idolatry, when good things become the focal point of our existence, when the good things squeeze out our good God. What was the idol, then?
My needs. My wants. My hunger. My way of wishing people would respond. My idea of how the world ought to work. Me.
And yes, that's sin.
In reality, what I thought was a built-in desire for affection and affirmation was really the grossest, most overweight, pampered selfishness. Clarification: wanting affection and affirmation is, of course, not a sin. We marry to not be alone, we find identity and love in families, we are built up and encouraged in the body of Christ, but ultimately, we find our entire fulfillment in God Himself. The sin is seeking fulfillment for that desire in anything outside of God first.
Insecurity is misdiagnosed as "low self-esteem." No, it is the highest form of self-esteem. Insecurity unconsciously screams, More Jesus, less self! Ever notice how insecure people cannot seem to receive encouragement or compliments? "You look beautiful today" is rebuffed by, "Really? I think I look hideous." The cure for insecurity is not more compliments, more affirmation, more accolades. It's dying to the self. The cure is not being made much of by God, by receiving little pats on the head and strokings of the ego by the divine right hand. It's humility. It's magnifying God. It's putting others first. It's not thinking of oneself at all, being so lost in the beauty, majesty and fullness of the Godhead.
A Christian girl has no excuse to be insecure, to worry, to be anxious, to demand, no more than a thirsty man has an excuse to wail about a lack of water when he's standing next to a bubbling fountain of purest drink.
No, ladies, my insecurity is not pitiable. It's pathetic. And more importantly, it's sinful -- sin to think of oneself so obsessively, sin to find oneself in anything other than Christ alone. He gives us the freedom to not think of ourselves at all and still end up more loved, affirmed and full than we've ever been in our lives.