Insecure in Security
I love to sing in the car. I turn my music up loud and get giddy with excitement when certain songs come around on my shuffle, I rock out to Firework, Roar, Brave and Flawless (to name a few) like it’s nobody’s business.
In my 1st year at seminary I started experiencing a shift in feelings about my own humanity, about who I was as a Christian, and as a woman. As I gained a better understanding of who Jesus is, and what it means to be a human in his kingdom, I felt the burden of resenting my own humanity begin to melt away. I began to detach myself from some of the reactionary theology created as a response to the human worship and idolization and false promises of “you’re perfect the way you are.” And as a result I wasn’t living in this tension of trying to believe God loved me while simultaneously hating myself. I began to see Jesus in his full self, yes as the Perfect Sacrifice, the Great High Priest, and the Son of God, but also in his humanity, and that the kingdom life he describes in the Sermon on the Mount is not some far away distant reality, but what happens when we live fully into our discipleship, when we fully live out what God intended for us when he made us human.
There’s a whole lot of theology in that God became flesh and dwelt among us. So much of our Christian Praxis rests on that understanding, and it is a cornerstone of God redeeming humanity. So I don’t want reduce that to one single or main point (as if they could be done), but one of the things I hear now when I read that verse is that God is not as afraid of our humanness as we are.
And this spilled out into all areas of my life. I was able to give voice and say, “I don’t’ want to be a counselor, I want to work at a church with youth”, when for a long time I kept that to myself afraid that I wasn’t cut out for it or people would laugh at it. I felt more confident, and more brave. I felt like I had a voice, my honest voice, not the one hidden behind a mask of certainty, or “quirkiness.” I stopped panicking or having a crisis of faith every time I couldn’t resolve a tension in Scripture. I was able to confront conflict and personal tensions. My self-esteem and body image improved dramatically. Heck, I even asked a guy out on date, and wore a two-piece bathing suit for the first time in my life.
I was learning the confidence that came with learning how to see yourself as a child of God, and the freedom and joy that comes with that.
But what about the days where I forget?
Because I still find myself falling back into that place I was. And every time it happens I immediately begin the process of mentally beating myself up about it. I look at where I was the day before; certain, sure, honest, and open, rocking out in my care to Brave and believing the lyrics with my whole heart, and I compare it to where I am at in those moments where my self-esteem plummets, and that feeling of self-resentment starts to creep in again.
It’s the vicious cycle of insecurity; I feel insecure, and then resent myself for feeling that way, I wonder why I can’t just be the strong, confident person that I was yesterday, and then I feel insecure about the fact that I am insecure, and my insecurity then becomes about whether or not I am being perceived as insecure, or needy, or whiney. I get caught up in wondering how could I go from someone who genuinely enjoyed herself one day, to someone who is crying because I don’t like how my body may look the next day?
I tell someone I am feeling insecure and then immediately follow it up with an apology, or an explanation, or an assurance not to worry about it. And I find myself once again going to that place where I am apologizing for how I feel, for voicing a doubt, or a need, or a desire for some kind of affirmation.
But when so much of insecurity is caught up in an inability to see yourself accurately, sometimes you need people to speak to that place, and if you pretend it isn’t there, it festers and grows and distorts even more. I find when I try and manage those insecurities on my own, independent of God and independent of fellowship, I find myself being less and less of that person I enjoy being, but this flies in the face of so much about what we are taught about strength, perception, independence, and self-worth.
I find as my faith strengthens so does my security and confidence, and I think we see this more than anything in the person of Jesus, who never had reason to doubt his worth and his value and His belovedness, as my identity becomes more and more grounded in who I am to God, those moments where I am just beat down by insecurities, doubts and uncertainties about my own self-worth, they are fewer.
But they are still there, because my faith is not perfected yet. I don’t have a perfect picture or perfect faith in who God has called me to be and who he is making me into and in His ability to do that. My self-perception is still, distorted by the fallen world we live in, and so those insecurities are there.
And I think a part of what I am learning is that, for now, that’s okay. And while that woman, who sings Roar at the top of her lungs on the way to work and believes it is great and she is deeply loved by her Creator she is just as imperfect as the me that is so angry at herself for forgetting her lunch at home for the millionth time that week.
And I think God is patiently showing me the difference in being confident in my confidence, and being confident in Him. Because this side of heaven, my confidence in my own worth and value, and even in the knowledge that I am loved and valued by God is going to waver. And in those moments when I feel like I can’t do anything right, I need to not compare myself to that person I was yesterday and instead listen to His words speaking to me:
“Yesterday, tomorrow, and now, you are Mine.”