A new couple sits a few rows in front of us in church.
There is a part of me that is thrilled – itching to go up and introduce myself to the young wife as soon as the service is over. And then, there’s this other part of me that hesitates… What if I say the wrong thing and sound totally ridiculous? What if my kids start misbehaving and I look like a terrible mom in front of these new people? What if no questions come to mind and we’re just standing in awkward silence? What if they never want to come back because of something I say?
That part is called insecurity.
Over the years, insecurity has caused me to miss out on opportunities to meet people, to love and serve people, and to say yes to good and new experiences (especially ones that involve any sort of risk). It’s kept me silent when I should have spoken truth, kept my hands and feet dormant when I should have used them for good.
Insecurity comes far more naturally to me than confidence. I have a feeling I’m not the only one who struggles with it. Why? Because at its root, insecurity is a focus on self. And since the fall, focus on self is our natural bent. It may come packaged in different ways for different people, but there’s probably some manifestation of it in everyone.
I’ve heard several times that insecurity is the flip-side of pride. I was rather taken aback by that statement at first. But the more I thought about it, the more the Lord used that to open my eyes to the many subtle ways I was saying yes to pride by justifying my insecurities under the guise of “that’s just how I am.” Take that new couple at church. If I choose not to go up to them with the excuse of being an introvert, I’m thinking more about myself and my own comfortability rather than thinking about God and how He calls me to love others. They are probably feeling far more out of place and awkward than I am. They know no one there, but I know many people. I can choose to “take” the awkwardness for them, or I can let the pride of self-protection cause me to miss the chance to love them because of the potential “risks” involved. But it’s not so easy to go against the grain of those natural patterns. So… is that how I have to be? Am I forever doomed to a life of being stuck in self-focused insecurity?
No. Far from it. Jesus died to set me free from insecurity.
Just about every day I see the message from the world that the key to overcoming insecurity is by loving myself more, putting myself first, realizing my self-worth, and focusing on my good and potential (basically trying to fight pride with… a different side of pride). But there’s a massive problem with this. When I turn my eyes inward, elevating myself and trying to search out just how good I am, I quickly start to see how many ways I fall short of this pedestal I’m placing myself on… which causes more insecurity, and more frantic effort to do enough or be enough (or at least try to make myself look good in others’ eyes). And before I know it, I’m trapped in a vicious cycle of deeper and deeper insecurity and false hope. Because security can never be found by depending on my sinful, insufficient self.
The cure for insecurity is finding security in Jesus.
It’s because I will never be enough that Jesus came. It’s because I had no hope in myself that Jesus came. It’s because I was lost that Jesus came. He alone is enough, He alone is my hope, He alone is my salvation. It’s by turning my eyes off of myself and onto my perfect, all-satisfying, all-sufficient Savior that the chains of insecurity begin to weaken. When I gaze upon the very Source of love and realize the depth of forgiveness that was purchased for me on the cross when I had done nothing (and could never do anything) to deserve it, it is then that I begin to find rest and sufficiency in Him rather than trying (and failing) to find it in myself.
And when my eyes are no longer on myself? I’m free to love others and serve others without being hindered by wondering what others will think of me. I can choose to risk my reputation and comfort because it just doesn’t matter so much anymore… because the joy of being the conduit of my Lord’s love to others far outweighs the danger of an awkward moment or poor word choice. Obeying Him and laying all on the line for the glory of my King surpasses the scariness of anything it might entail.
Because of Jesus’ life in me, I am enabled to overcome insecurity. Sure, the feelings may still come. I may still get a little nervous to go introduce myself to the new couple (believe me, I still get shaky). But by His grace, I don’t listen to those feelings quite as much as I once did. I’m being sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit to love God and others unhindered. And the more I’m changed, the more holding onto insecurity like a security blanket just doesn’t sound so good anymore. And I’m discovering more every day just how beautiful it is to “turn [my] eyes upon Jesus, look[ing] full in His wonderful face.” The things of earth (and my old ways) truly do grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
If you’re under the weight of joy-stealing insecurity… Look to Jesus. Let Him take care of it. It’s eternally worth it.