She’s Got Issues — Chapter 5

Insidious Insecurity

I missed posting last week, so let’s not dawdle. Let’s talk…insecurity, “a cloudy kind of word, with all kinds of associations and feelings hiding in it.”

Insecurity is the recognition of an area of vulnerability, the general sense of dis-ease in one’s own skin. Insecurity presents itself both as a trait of our personality, affecting every area of life, and as a circumstantial response when we are confronted with certain uncomfortable situations. In both cases, insecurity reveals those places where we fell exposed and inadequate.

How do these look in your life? For me…

Personality — it’s second-guessing my choices, over-worrying what others think, or refusing someone’s compliment.

Uncomfortable situations — like the time I showed up at a semi-formal Christmas party dressed in my cutesy Christmas tree t-shirt, skirt, and black boots…hating every minute of the event, fighting the desire to run to the ladies’ room and never come out..

Insecurity…that feeling we lived with everyday of middle school, the painful truth that “women of all ages find it hard to figure out just who we are supposed to be,” and the creator of desperation that makes us to want to hide or cover ourselves from exposure.

And the crazy thing is we tend to accept insecurity as if it’s just a normal thing, as if this is what God intended for us. Girls, we have issues!

When we get real with ourselves, sisters…when we get to the heart of what motivates and fuels our insecurities, we discover feelings that uncover the truths about our hearts.

Oh, but wait. Perhaps you’re not convinced you struggle with insecurity? Nicole offers an Insecurity Assessment in this chapter that is very revealing. I dare you to take it… (feeling insecure yet?)

Nicole points out that this insecurity issue is a spiritual one, which means we’ll have to be willing to peel away layers to get to what’s in our hearts.

Ready to get real?  Ready to get spiritual? Cuz that’s what it’ll take to overcome this all-encompassing issue that seems to accompany every other issue we face.

Insecurity has four basic facets. We can be insecure with our appearances, in our relationships, for others’ approval, and for our own achievement.

We’re girls. Of course we care about our appearance. We’re cooed over as babies and toddlers…always so cute or pretty or darling. Our culture saturates us with an obsession with beauty. And for girls today it’s worse than ever.

The average teen now sees more pictures of outstandingly beautiful women in one day than her mother did during her entire adolescence.

And, women, every aspect of life contributes to “our evaluation of whether our appearance is worth being happy over.”

Similarly, pop culture gives us girls a hyper-heightened view of life — that the best of life happens when we’re in love. As a result, we tend to look for our worth in relationships. Then when the friend, boyfriend, husband or child fails to fill the deep cravings of our souls, we try to act like we don’t need anything.

This waffling between the sense that we deserve more from others and the fear that we are nothing special leaves us pitching back and forth wildly in our relationships and ultimately accomplishes insecurity’s greatest coup: keeping us overly focused on ourselves.

We girls are very gifted in the art of comparison. We so desire for someone to affirm that we are “good enough,” that others’ approval becomes an addiction — we become “approval junkies.”

At the heart of it, a craving for approval creates a constant striving in our souls. Because we measure our worth by the admiration of the person whose approval we crave, we seek to do more and more of whatever earns their favor. And as we do, we often stray further and further away from the ‘realness’ of who we are.

Some of us place our worth in what we can accomplish, and the trend among high-achieving women is their deep-seated fear of being “found-out” as phonies. The more social women who have this achievement insecurity will feel the need to prove their intelligence, while the women who feel the pressure to be perfect will struggle with feeling inadequate.

As is usually the case when I take “tests” as Nicole’s Insecurity Assessment, I scored pretty evenly in all areas. (Told you I have issues). Despite my Christmas party catastrophe, I especially resonated with this last one, achievement.

Funny how I thought I was just weird in third grade. Now I know I was pretty normal…with issues, but normal.

For the first time in my young life, I had someone who had such high, unrealistic expectations of me that I felt stress. I so feared never being able to live up to my teacher’s expectations that I’d go to school with stomach aches and plots for cheating on multiplication quizzes.

Really.

Eventually that striving to be perfect ate away at me, and the fear of being “found out” took root. I continue to work on this issue all these decades later.

It’s not all my teacher’s fault. There is something deep inside me that wants to achieve well — still. And interwoven in that desire to achieve is the desire to please others, to gain their approval.

It’s just a mess, an entanglement even. I guess that’s why we call them issues.

But it’s not without hope.

Nicole had her come-apart-moment…that moment when she was stripped of her “good student” identity, left only with her “yoga pants, Dansko clogs, a stroller, and a sinkful of dishes.” It was in that moment that she “truly learned what it meant to be tangled in and then freed from insecurity.”

Let’s get untangled, shall we?

Scripture tells us that the only way to be truly released is by focusing our attention on God, and when we can do that, we’ll start to see that all those things we cling to (appearance, relationships, approval, achievement) are not good.

Let’s push pause for a moment: God created women with these desires — for Him! Blaise Paschal would say we’re created with a “God-shaped hole.” He put inside us a desire for beauty, to be loved and cherished so that we’d desire Him (in a holy and wonderful way).

What happens is we try to fill that God-shaped hole with other things. And Nicole would add that we tend to give these “things” too high a priority in our hearts which leads to “disappointment, disillusionment, and deep insecurity.”

Back to our topic at hand… The way to free ourselves from the snare, the entanglement of insecurity is to let go of worldly security and seek the security that can only come from our heavenly Father.

It’s a process, this dis-entanglement. Focus less on ourselves. Develop a God-centered view of our souls. Reframe insecurities as guideposts on the road to growth. And accept the sense of awkwardness that is sure to come along the way.

As we do these things, we’re moving toward true freedom in Christ!

…our soul is created to find rest in God alone. And that part remains restless until it finds the deep rest of security in Christ.

Sisters, this lack of peace we have is rooted in our insecurities. And when we allow ourselves to recognize our insecurity, we are a step closer to realizing we are longing for something more.

So instead of looking at our insecurities as shameful places to hide, let’s see them as opportunities to see God working in our lives! When we do, we can see where we need God’s healing touch and transformation.

Space Bar: Can you get to the heart of why appearance, relationships, approval, and/or achievement are important to you? Nicole urges us to write it all down — the stories from your childhood/past that relate to insecurity, the people who have more power over you than you’d like, roles or circumstances that feed your insecurities.

Nicole reminds us that “this is not an exercise in condemnation or shame. This is a way to face your own reality so that you can ask God to intervene and grow you beyond your insecurities.”

Our next chapter,”Attaching Your Anchor,” will give us some more practical how-to’s in overcoming our insecurity issues, so to prepare yourself take the above Space Bar. Be earnest and engaged so we can enter into Chapter 6 with hope and expectation!

Writing it all down,

Shelley Johnson

Published by Shelley Johnson

Follower of Christ, wife, mother of three, daughter, sister, friend. Seeker of ways to share the love I've found in Jesus with others.

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