My default reaction to tough situations is insecurity.
When I’m broken down, tired or feeling at my weakest, I don’t get angry, I don’t become some sort of tyrant, taking my feelings out on everyone in my path, but rather, I shrink. I shrink down into myself, hiding and apologizing and punishing myself for “ruining absolutely everything.”
Insecurity is something that I faced head on this last year, fighting it with everything in me, and going to battle with Jesus, reclaiming the confident woman He created me to be.
And that’s true, and the strides we’ve made have been incredible. I would not ever call myself an insecure person.
And then things changed.
I had the incredible blessing of spending an afternoon with writer, Allison Vesterfelt a few days ago, and she was giving my roommate and me a lesson on the joys of marriage.
She was telling us that you don’t realize how insecure you are until you attach yourself to another person.
Here’s what she meant.
We all have insecurities. That’s just true. And as single people, we have an incredible amount of control over our lives. That’s also true.
Hopefully as we grow up, we learn and work through some of these insecurities, but at the same time, having so much control over our lives, we can also put up some barriers, keeping us away from situations that make us feel insecure, avoiding them altogether.
Here’s an example:
You’re really insecure in big crowds of people.
Solution? You stay away from big crowds, and think that you’re strong and confident and don’t have an insecure bone in your body.
And then you get married, and your husband’s job requires you both to schmooze in large crowds several times a month.
Then what do you do?
Having less control over your life – having attached your life to someone else – and now that you’re unable to avoid it, you’re forced to face up to just how insecure you actually are.
And I think that’s a general rule that can be applied to change of all kinds.
When things are the same, we find ways to deal with our handicaps, making it so that we barely recognize they’re there at all.
But when things change – when we get a new job, have a new group of friends, have new responsibilities or live in a new city – we’re forced to do things that we didn’t have to do when our circumstances were predictable and within our control.
Now we’re all of a sudden forced to face some of our messiest insecurities, the ones that we’d buried and avoided for so long.
And this is exactly what’s happening to me. Actually, it’s exactly what just happened.
Literally, in the past several hours, I’ve been faced with some of the biggest fears, some of the biggest insecurities – crippling insecurities – that I didn’t even realize that I had!
Things have changed – they have and it’s good – but that change has spotlighted the fact that there are messes that I just absolutely have to deal with!
When we have secrets they multiply. Shame is like mold, it grows faster in the dark.
But when we bring light to the tender, hurting, messy places in our hearts, we find healing.
Because first of all, allowing light into those places gives Jesus access to them. He is a gentleman; He won’t bang down the door of our heart to heal us … He’ll wait until He’s invited. Opening up those places allows Him to come in and make them new.
Secondly – when we’re honest about our struggles – it allows other people to come into that same freedom. We all have messes, and when we own up to them, we no longer have to hide.
Thirdly – when we allow ourselves to be really and fully known, vulnerable and unmasked, we’re allowing ourselves to be fully loved. We’re allowing people to really see us, really have access to us, and it allows Jesus to show us, in a tangible, wrap-their-arms-around-you kind of way – that you’re so worthy of love – even when you’re messy.
So here’s what I’m going to do: in my determination to have this thing fixed and gone, I’m going to shine a bright light onto the lies I’ve been hearing, begging Jesus to heal them and set me free.
I’m not clunking around in chains anymore.
It’s time to shed some light – it’s time to break into some brand new freedom.
So here we go: (whew, please pray for me.)
1. I did something wrong and because of that, they don’t like me anymore.
It’s not that I’m afraid that people won’t like me to begin with, but I’m constantly afraid that I’m going to do something wrong and that it will be the last straw and that I’ll lose the relationship forever.
2. I’ve ruined everything.
I assume that if I did something wrong – even the teeniest bit wrong – not even that wrong but just not perfect, that I’m going to step off of the path, be discounted. I’m afraid that someone’s going to give up on me – and why shouldn’t they? I messed it up!
3. They’re going to leave me.
I think that this one is pretty common. If you’ve ever had your heart broken, even just once, it’s a tough one to shake. You’re afraid that you’re going to be hurt again and the hard part is that no matter what somebody says or does to prove to you otherwise, you’re still afraid of them leaving, which generally becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
These lies have me absolutely tied up in chains. One feeds into the other, which then feeds back into the third.
I did something imperfectly, accidentally let someone see that I am, in fact, human, and because of that, they don’t like me anymore and they’re going to leave. No second chances, do not pass go. If you’re not perfect, you don’t count. You don’t deserve love, get over it. Get perfect and then we can maybe talk.
The worst part about these three lies is that they apply to the way I perceive God too. I’ve been wrapped up in this feeling of needing to be perfect, of constantly screwing up and feeling like I’m just one mistake away from losing His love forever.
I end up in this cycle of apologizing and trying to “make it up” to them. I try to fix whatever it was that I think I did wrong, sending me into a spiral of shame and guilt.
“How could I have done that?!”
“How could I have been so stupid?”
“Maybe if I apologize 12 times and buy them lots of coffee, they’ll forgive me and we can go back to being perfect.”
(This gets weird with God, although I know that because He’s a good God, He loves coffee.)
I hate this.
This feels shameful and messy and it’s hard to know where to go from here.
These things that have been swirling under the surface, deadly and disgusting, have been paralyzing me for probably my entire life and it took one change of circumstances, one shift out of my normal, controlled comfort zone, to realize just how much of a prisoner I really am.
And I am sick and tired of it!
Well, now that this is out, I don’t really know what to do other than to pray so here we go.
Jesus, heal me. Please God, come into these deep, dark places in my heart, and unlock the chains that have been keeping me hostage for so long. Please unwind the lies from around my wrists, and my ankles and my heart, and replace those chains with the truth of who I am because of who YOU are.
God set me free, and not just me. Please give all of your kiddos the courage to look for the places that we’re being held captive, give us courage to shine some light on those places and please unlock us!
God, we love You and we praise You and we thank You for being the God of freedom, for having taken care of this for us on the cross. Now please help us step into the freedom that’s already ours, in tangible ways, in the deepest and darkest places of our hearts.
I love you Lord. Thank you so much for freedom.
In Jesus’ name,