If you ever want to know what insecurities are on a magnified level, spend one day sitting at a middle school lunch table. The cattiness, the put-down behavior, the one-upmanship: It’s a hot mess of growing humans who aren’t fully sure of their identities yet, and, feeling under a microscope as if the entire world is looking, they lash out at everything and everyone to find their place in the pecking order. It’s human sorting on steroids. Where do I fit in? Who are my friends?
Don’t get me wrong. I love middle school students. My husband and I teach the middle school and early high school crowd in Sunday School. They can be deep thinkers and amazing communicators—but we see them in a safe setting where they can be themselves and share from their hearts.
I know several of them face open hostility and negativity Monday through Friday from the minute they get to their bus stops to the minute they arrive home. While there are amazing growth points in middle school, I have always said that if you can survive middle school mostly intact, you can get through almost anything.
Personally, I’m delighted to have two children already through the murky, turbulent waters of middle school. I hold my breath as one more child goes through. And while middle schoolers get a bad rap from this kind of behavior, the truth is: Some folks struggle with this into adulthood. Insecurities can be slithery snakes that chokehold us from experiencing joy and hope for the future.
Let’s take a brief look at the damage our own insecurities can do. They can lead us to:
- Sabotage our otherwise healthy relationships
- Send barbs to other people’s hearts
- Distract ourselves and others from God’s amazing gifts
- Stay stagnant in personal growth
- Model poor communication and relationship habits to those we influence
Do you know what else insecurities do? They put down what God has made. We are made in His image, so when we doubt ourselves—and sometimes as a result of that, put others down—we are speaking ill about His creation.
We all may have seasons where we feel uncertain in our footing, unsure about ourselves and our direction. Those are usually times for us to turn the volume up on our God hearing aids so we can listen to what He wants to speak into our lives and wait for Him to offer us direction. These moments often follow loss, trauma, drastic change, life disappointments, etc. In those scenarios, the insecurities are, more or less, a result of normal transition mode for many of us.
On the other hand, if we find ourselves doing any of the following, we may have an insecurity problem that is habitual, likely hurtful to others, and even more likely doing damage to our closest relationships:
- Putting others down because we need them to know we do something better
- Experiencing regular bouts of jealousy
- Indulging a spirit of discontent where, whatever we do, we are thinking about what we are missing out on
- Regularly regarding or treating someone as “less than” to (falsely) inflate our own self-esteem
- Wanting others to know how important we are by consistently sharing with them what we were invited to be a part of that they were not
- Walking up to folks already in conversation and having to redirect all focus to ourselves
- Resenting other friendships that happen independently of us
- Needing a report of every activity we miss out on
- Exercising a victim mentality where we feel left out most of the time
- Having expectations that exceed anyone’s ability to fulfill them
Can real-life situations happen that cause us to have these doubts from time to time? Absolutely. But if we cycle through these thoughts often, or worse, act on them in our speech with others, we have an insecurity self-control problem, and the only remedy is Jesus Christ.
It’s an excuse to say we are insecure people. If we know Christ, we are not only secure in His love but we are children of God. Who are we to walk around feeling insecure about what He says is secure?
When we think about our own insecurities, we are essentially saying laying down His life for us was not enough. Whoa!
John 15:13, ESV
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
What are some ways we can combat our destructive/self-destructive behaviors with the truth of God and the mighty power of His name? Here are some exercises I have practiced over the past few years to keep the peace of God in the forefront of my mind.
1.) Take each negative, jealous, unkind, or even self-loathing thought and put it through the God filter.
If it is not based on God’s love, it won’t stand up, I promise you. Put it on His altar. Dip it in His truth.
2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…
2.) Pray. Talk to Him about these anxieties that lead to self-doubt and negative behaviors.
Read His Holy Word. Seek godly counsel. Saturate yourself in His peace, which will guard you from these insecurity storms.
Philippians 4:6-7, ESV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
3.) Live by the Spirit, which empowers you to bear the fruit of Galatians 5 and 6. Know the power of Christ in your life.
Galatians 5:22-6:5, ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
4.) Tame that tongue! “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
This last part of the Galatians passage walks in step with the warning from James, the brother of Jesus: Recognize how damaging the tongue can be and exercise the self-control of the Galatians 5-6 promise.
James 3:5-12, ESV
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
5.) Know who and Whose you are. You are children of God.
Galatians 3:25-29, ESV
But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
*This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today.
**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Worshipful Wednesdays, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Breakthrough Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, Sunday Thoughts Link-Up, and Christian Mommy Blogger.
Anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).