On Facebook recently, I mentioned that I’m in awe of those who (I perceive) are confident in who they are—in their looks, their abilities, etc. When I see confident people who don’t (seem to) struggle with insecurity, I am simply amazed. I just can’t fathom this kind of confidence and suspect I never will this side of heaven.
In response to my statement, some kind souls offered me encouraging words and compliments. Others “got” it by saying they felt the same way. And some responses reminded me that Normals just don’t understand. It’s logical to assume a statement like this is simply fishing for compliments. Honestly, this was the farthest thing from my mind. If you understand insecurity at all, you’d know that compliments do very little for us poor saps. At least with any permanence. The reason being that, at least as far as it applies to me, no amount of compliments or encouraging words can shore up the missing foundation in the insecure person’s life. Compliments we receive are quickly forgotten, because whatever is missing or lacking in our confidence lies far beneath looks, talent, accomplishments, etc. It’s like a black hole, really.
Don’t get me wrong, strokes are always welcome. Isn’t that true for everyone? But it’s just that no amount of compliments or kudos (or money or prestige or accomplishments or beauty or la la la) will ever fill the black hole of self-doubt.
At least, that’s how it feels to me.
The way I see it, insecurity is not a struggle to “like myself” enough to finally find “inner peace,” or the need to inflate my ego until it’s full of enough hot air to float me through life, but it’s more of a constant fear that the ground I’m standing on isn’t solid, the foundation of who I am is sketchy and can crumble with enough wind or opposition. Or maybe it’s more like living life on a tightrope. One slip and I’m toast. I think of insecurity as the constant fear that there’s really nothing solid beneath you.
whined talked about how it’s taking me a dreadfully long time to grow up, thanks to just the right combination of factors in childhood and my being a bonehead in general. What I’ve learned over the Long Haul is that I’m a mess, you’re a mess, everyone fails, everyone comes up short. It’s in our nature. Only God can be counted on to be steadfast, faithful and true. And he is. Someone at some time or another will crush me by rejecting or dismissing me. This can’t be avoided. At the same time, unfortunately, I know I will wound and offend, though I wish to God I didn’t because I sure don’t want to.
Enough whining. My point is that I have learned to embrace this weakness of insecurity. I am not looking for strokes (though don’t forget, they are perfectly acceptable much like chocolate—no such thing as too much) and I really, really don’t mean to be a tedious navel-gazer. What I want is to remember is that this life we live on earth is so short and so fleeting, and yet is so full of potential. Whether we are multi-talented or simple-minded, handsome or plain, popular or awkward, we all have a precious opportunity to fill our bank account with treasure that will go with us into eternity.
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15
I’m reminded that one day, when we pass through heaven’s gate, our lives will pass through a fire of testing, and after our “works” (& all the stuff we based our confidence in) have been burned off, all that will remain will be the lasting gems forged by faith, hope and love. Faith from each moment of surrender to God, Hope from trusting in his goodness, Love from acts of obedience and dying to self.
So as long as I’m looking to find security in my accomplishments or popularity or talents—wood, hay and straw—I will be gathering goods in vain. Not only do I find no lasting security from these things, but none of that stuff is going with me into eternity. And eternity is going to last a lot longer than this little bit of earthly life I’m trying to muddle through right now.
The only things that we will take with us into eternity are the things that build godly character in us, that make us more like Christ. Instead of inflating our egos with success and accomplishments, or aiming for being the most successful salesman or the most popular girl at school or the coolest mom on the block, we ought to invest our efforts on obedience to God, on trusting his wisdom and power, on complete dependence on his love and mercy. That’s our task, and for me, that’s where solid, lasting security lies.
Q: Do you struggle with insecurity?