Insecure Much? (Part 2): I Want to Be the Best

Well, that just sounds really bad when you put it right out there in the open, hey?

But it’s the painful truth, and I’ve become more and more aware of it since reading Beth Moore’s book, So Long, Insecurity.

People often think insecurity comes from a negative self-image, and being really down on yourself all the time. But Beth Moore suggests that often, the root of insecurity is not low self-esteem, but rather…pride.

Once again, I was surprised by what I learned, and even more surprised by what I uncovered in my own life. I had never recognized the pride in me that was feeding my feelings of insecurity. I had bought into that whole “I need to love myself, and accept myself. I need to feel special, and that’s how I will overcome insecurity.”

Being the poor “victim” in need of love sounds much less sinful than being prideful, doesn’t it?

Here’s how this whole thing works:

We see someone who is very gifted and talented, or fantastic with people, or model-beautiful, and we start feeling insignificant or awkward or ugly or whatever other undesirable feelings that might arise. We realize we are not the best in the whole comparison game. And that can hurt a person’s pride.

I hate to admit it, but how often do I long to be the best? How often do I secretly wish to be the smartest, the best-dressed, the best parent, of the best kids, the most talented, the funniest, the most spiritual…

The list could go on so long, it’s embarrassing.

That kind of thinking turns life into a competition. It means that every time I am in the presence of other women, I am “ranking” myself.

Beth Moore writes,

Most of us aren’t in a public place for five minutes before we peruse the female players in the room and judge where we rank.(p. 279, So Long, Insecurity)

Apparently I’m not the only one who has thought that way, which is the only reason why I’m brave enough to admit it. I’m totally guilty of being in a room, checking out the other women and comparing myself to them, trying to figure out who’s the “best” and in what categories. If I don’t come out on top, who am I beneath? What is my “place” in the room?

Oh, that looks so ugly typed out on the screen. But can you relate?

I was curious about this. I’ve always felt yucky, alone, critical, and awful for thinking stuff like that, and to finally acknowledge it was happening in my life was very hard, but also a kind of relief.

I started wondering how common these thoughts were among females. So I spent some time with a fantastic group of girls, talking about this sense of competition.

And the result was absolutely amazing. Girls started opening up about their insecurities, the areas in which they felt most weak and undesirable. They shared the strengths they took pride in, and we could all relate and laugh together, instead of compete against each other. It was the best experience I’ve ever had in an all-female setting.

The goal in our female relationships should be to encourage one another’s security. (p. 279, So Long, Insecurity)

What holds us back from doing more of that? For me, it’s the simple, ugly fact that I don’t want to encourage the competition.

So now what?

I was at such a loss that I went to my mentor. I confessed all of those ugly, prideful thoughts to her, and asked her how in the world I could be free.

And she told me to start praying. She said that whenever jealousy reared it’s ugly head, I should start praying for the woman I felt jealous of. She said I should pray that God would richly bless that woman as she went about using her God-given abilities.

That is not an easy, natural response, but I have found that it does wonders. It takes my focus off me, my pride, and my silly sense of competition, and it gets the focus back on God and how much He loves each of these beautiful, wonderful women that I come in contact with.

What about you – can you relate too? Have you ever felt like you wanted to be the best?

Insecure Much (Part 1): What’s Your “One Thing”?

So yesterday I let you all know about my newest little blog series about insecurity. I’ve been learning a ton from Beth Moore’s book, So Long, Insecurity, and I want to share with you some of the things that I’ve been working through as a result.

To start things off, I’ll give you a little tip on how to figure out what your biggest area of insecurity might be.

Beth Moore writes that if you want to figure out what your “soft spot” is, the area where you are most vulnerable, just try to figure out what is the one thing that you would change about yourself, if you could.

She calls this “a prominent false positive: one thing that we think would make us more secure in all things.

She writes,

Think of the person you believe to be secure and determine what earthly thing he or she has that you don’t feel like you possess, at least in matching measure….Needless to say, we would all like any number of things to give us the security we’re after, but we each have a tendency to prioritize one above the rest….Often we’re not even aware of it, but we demonstrate it by the inordinate power we assign to it. (p.37)

I read that, and thought, “I really don’t think that’s true in my life. I don’t think I have just one thing that sums up my insecurity.” But I wanted to be a good sport, so I spent some time thinking and praying about it.

What finally came to me was kind of surprising.

For me, it’s health. I often start to think that if I could overcome the health issues that I’m still trying to deal with once and for all, I would be perfectly happy.

I watch the other moms here at camp with their kids, and they seem to have boundless energy. They seem to do endless amounts of crafts with their kids, have never-ending amounts of patience, and run all over camp with their children. I used to watch out the window as my friend Terra-Lee went sailing past our house on her bike with all her children in tow.

And then I would look at my house that was a mess, because I was exhausted and had no energy to deal with it. My kitchen was pure chaos, because my health requires me to stay on a very restricted diet that’s a ton of work. And my hips give me so much trouble that I can’t even go for walks, never mind a bike ride.

I would feel very sorry for myself, and I would think, “If only I was completely healthy, then I would be the one biking, and having the time and energy for crafts and cleaning, and parenting with all the energy and patience that everybody else has. I would be able to have as many babies as I would choose to have instead of being restricted by my body, and my whole life would be wonderful….if only I was completely healthy.”

So positive, right? I didn’t feel that way all the time, just on the bad days.

But Beth Moore is right – I do have a soft spot, and my “one thing” is health. I was longing for the health that others seem to have, I was pouring a lot of time and money into trying to achieve it, and if you would ever want to crush me, all it would take is telling me that I looked like I was “wasting away” (yes, that was a direct quote), and looking tired, run-down, and unhealthy. Then I would go away and cry, and feel discouraged about absolutely everything in my life. I felt insecure about how I was doing as a mom and as a wife, and I felt insecure about how I looked and what other people thought of me.

I thought that everything would just be better if I was healthy and vibrant and full of energy.

But you know what? As long as I was thinking about all of that junk, as long as I was wishing for the life that someone else seemed to have, as long as I was feeling sorry for myself, I was never be able to see myself the way God sees me. If I’m thinking about what I don’t have or comparing myself to other people, I can’t focus on God. My thoughts are focused on myself and on the little pity party that can kick into high gear at a moment’s notice.

That’s my soft spot.

I found out what it was, but I also found out what to do with it. I need to surrender it over to God, and allow Him to heal it. I need to stop the pity party, and start filling my mind with thoughts that are glorifying to Him.

Sometimes identifying the soft spot already makes the hugest difference. I realized that I was unconsciously thinking a lot of harmful thoughts in a day. When I figured out what my “one thing” was, I was able to stop those thoughts, and replace them.

And it’s always possible to replace those thoughts: I am so much healthier than I used to be. And maybe I’m not biking all over the place with my girls, but we sure have fun snuggled up on the couch, reading books. Maybe my diet is a lot of work and really restricted, but at least I’ve found a way to function well and feel good.

My negative thoughts were feeding the insecurity I had about my health. I was constantly comparing myself to others, and only seeing all the ways in which I was not strong enough, not good enough, just….never enough.

But Ben often says, “It is what it is.” This is the life and the body that God has blessed me with. It’s not perfect, and that is okay. In His eyes, I will always be enough. Instead of continually focusing on that one thing, I need to keep looking to Him. He heals the hurt and the insecurities, and the years of not measuring up.

So what’s your spot? It might take some thinking to figure out, but I think it would be worth the effort. What is the one thing that you think would make everything better in your life, and then take it to God and ask Him to heal you and free you.

Anyone brave enough to share? I’m kinda curious about your “one thing”...

(If it’s way too scary to share something like that publicly, you can always send me an email! I’d love to hear from you.)

Insecure Much?

During the summer, I wrote a post about the books our family was enjoying, and shared that I was reading Beth Moore’s book, So Long, Insecurity.

There are so many thoughts that have been floating around in my mind as a result of this book.

It’s been a slow read, because I’m going through it together with one of my friends. We read a few chapters, and then talk on the phone and share the stuff we’ve been learning. I think slow has been good, because it gives me more of a chance to “chew” on the new ideas I’m taking in.

First thing I learned: I don’t exactly like reading a book about insecurity.

I like to take a book along with me when we’re running errands in the city, so that if I ever have to wait for an appointment or something, I have something productive to do. But do you have any idea how many women stare at you when you’re reading a book called, So Long, Insecurity?

I feel like I’m announcing to the world that I have issues. ‘Cause I wouldn’t be reading this book is I wasn’t insecure, right? But the book says that pretty much everybody, men and women, have insecurity issues in some form, at some point in their life.

So there you go. It turns out that I’m in good company.

For all of you who feel you also might have even a teeny tiny twinge of insecurity somewhere in the hidden depths of your being, or you have issues that don’t make sense and you’re not sure what the root is, and you haven’t read this book, but you’re feeling slightly curious….

Today is your lucky day!

Today is the day I tell you about my new little series I’ll be doing on this blog about insecurity. I was just going to do one post, but it’s a huge, slippery issue, so I’ll take a few days to tell you about the biggest things I’ve been learning when it comes to insecurity.

I’ve been surprised by the things that were uncovered. What I’ve been learning about insecurity is not what I expected. It’s been uncomfortable at times. But it’s also been interesting and challenging, so I’m willing to share some of the ugly stuff, in the hope that you can feel like you’re not alone, and can start releasing some things in your life to God.

Ready to get started?! I’ll see you tomorrow!