Face It Head On

In my last Bible Study series post based on Beth Moore’s study So Long, Insecurity I covered The Magic Method to Overcoming Insecurity. That “magic method” was basically to lean on the strength the Lord gives you as a Christian and work on changing the way your think. When a negative thought comes to mind immediately replace it with a promise of God. This week we will address when Satan uses friends or family members to prey on us and lead us further down a path of negativity and insecurity.

Let’s begin this week with a simple question to make you stop and think. What kind of people do you have around you? How would you characterize your closest friends/family? Are they encouragers? Do you feel uplifted after spending time with them? Or do you find yourself feeling negative – not necessarily about yourself – but just more negative in general? Do you often find that you are expending more energy (positive or negative) on their issues every time you are together so that there seems to be very little support for you and your issues? Does your relationship feel one sided and it’s not really in your favor? Be honest – are you feeling used? Is there a lot of give on your part but you walk away with very little take? Now does that make you feel more secure or less secure? When you are away from that person and really get a chance to think about your relationship with them do you ever get that little nudge that something just feels “off”? Perhaps when you are apart from them you (or your spouse) notices that you seem negative, consumed with worrying about someone else’s problems, not plugged into your life/family, depressed or just “not yourself”.

What does all of that sound like? It sounds like a person who is being controlled by another person. It sounds like your friend/family member is consuming all of your mental and emotional energy so that you have none left for your family. In chapter 13 of So Long Insecurity Beth Moore refers to these people as “emotional predators”. It’s easy to see how an emotional predator could control another person in a marriage. But if you identify with any of the questions in the previous paragraph you can see that it’s also easy to understand how a friend or other family member could easily control us as well. Sometimes it’s possible to be one of the members in this type of relationship without even knowing it. But many times a person with a controlling personality will seek out a “weaker” personality that is easily controlled and will draw them in like a spider to a web. I have been in this type of friendship. This friend was very good at manipulation. So good that it was as if I was a puppet and she was the puppet master. There were so many other unhealthy tentacles in this relationship that we could be here all night if I tried to cover it all. Let’s just say that when the “friendship” ended it did not end well. I paid the price with my heart in a million little pieces and my self esteem shot to smithereens. As I look back now I can see everything so clearly. I can see the game she played. I can see how easily I fell right into her hands. When it all came to light I surrounded myself with POSITIVE people. I buried myself into the Word of God. I refused to let satan win the battle at the hands of a heartless two faced “friend”. I recognized that she was wrong. The things she said about me were wrong. I was a good person. I refused to believe the things she tried to get me to believe about myself.

You see what I did there? I changed my surroundings. I made sure that I filled my mind with the truth. I chose to believe the truth instead of the lie. I chose to find my strength and security in Christ and no longer in a “friendship” based on lies and deceit. I truly found Christ is strong in our weakness as II Corinthians 12 says. I replaced all that negativity with truth and I climbed out of that pit. I am stronger now because of it. I am more secure in certain areas of my life because of my response to that whole experience. I would hate to see where I would be now if I had not clung to the truth. The secret to overcoming insecurity is in how your respond to it. It takes a very concentrated effort to stand up to our insecurity and face it head on and refuse to allow it any more power over you.

The Magic Method to Overcoming Insecurity

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to write in my So Long Insecurity series. The last entry was The Roots of Insecurity on October 11. I apologize for leaving you hanging. It’s an ongoing battle to get my hands on a computer around here. In my last entry I talked about the most likely causes of the insecurities so many of us battle on a daily basis. Today is a much happier topic. Today we will discuss how we can overcome those causes and change the way we think so that we can recognize who God has created us to be, a wholy secure and strong woman of God who deserves respect. Praise the Lord!

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

Proverbs 31:25

One thing we can be sure of, if we constantly allow ourselves to give into our insecurities and not challenge them but let them control us, they will overtake our confidence and our interactions with those around us. We may think we have them well hidden so noone will ever know the pain we have deep inside. But the longer we push them down the more we have to walk on egg shells as if we are trying to avoid landmines. There are triggers all around us, seemingly innocent occurences, that threaten to reveal our true selves at any time. Here is a list that Beth included in her book. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Out of the corner of your eye you notice your man looking at another woman or you notice another woman looking at your man.
  • Your mom or mother-in-law gets that disapproving look on her face over how you parent your child.
  • The guy you used to date walks into the room with a gorgeous girl.
  • You poured out your heart to someone and they didn’t get it. You think you shared too much.
  • You finally reconcile with a friend after a hurtful disagreement. You can tell within thirty seconds that she doesn’t feel the same as she did before.
  • You get a new haircut and it doesn’t come out like you wanted it to.
  • You met someone you really admire and you say something stupid.

What are you supposed to do with triggers like that? How are you supposed to overcome your insecurities when seemingly every day things like that happen and unearths the hurt and pain you thought you had successfully hidden?

The key to overcoming those insecurities lies in the verse listed above from Proverbs 31. Overcoming them is not something we can do ourselves. Our insecurities are like giant anaconda snakes (I chose that snake because I believe it is the biggest snake there is). When those things get ahold of you do you think you can fight it off on your own? Of course not! You don’t have the strength for that. You need help from someone much stronger – preferably with a big gun (AND VERY GOOD AIM PLEASE!). Proverbs 31:25 tells us that God has dressed us with strength. Think about that for a minute. He hasn’t only dressed us with our own strength but as a child of his he has also dressed us with HIS strength. Ephesians 6:11 says Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Well, if these lies we tell ourselves aren’t a strategy of the devil then I don’t know what is. But as a Christian we are given/clothes with the Armor of God.

Now it’s one thing to know that but it’s something else entirely to claim. But that is the key to fighting those retched insecurities off. When you mind starts telling you that you aren’t good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough or WHATEVER enough remind yourself that you are created by a perfect being and are clothed with the strength and the armor of God – you possess the divine strength of your heavenly father. After so many times of replacing those negatives thoughts with the affirming thoughts of truth you will notice something different about yourself. In all actuality you are just doing what God tells us to do in Ephesians 4:23 – Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. That even applies to the thoughts and attitudes we have about ourselves.

I can hear you now saying “That’s it? That’s all there is to it? I’ve been eaten up by these insecurities all these years and all I’ve needed to do is tell myself they are lies and I am clothed in the strength of the Lord?” Uh YEP! That’s it! When I read this chapter I was reading between the lines for the hidden formula too. But THAT IS the magic formula. The hard part is remembering to do it before we get so overcome with the negative self talk. I know what it’s like to get to that point but I’m working on this magic method of combating insecurity. Let’s work this plan together. I have it from a pretty good source that this works – the Apostle Paul in Ephesians AND Beth Moore in So Long, Insecurity.

 

The Roots of Insecurity

Let your roots grow down into Christ Jesus, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

In preparing for tomorrow’s Bible study, I began reading chapters 5 & 6 in So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore the beginning of the week. Because my brain moves slower than your average brain I don’t work ahead like most Bible study leaders. I am usually doing the study probably right about the same time as my students are, about the last minute. There was a lot of reading this week so I started it Monday night and finished it around 1:00 this afternoon. Then I began actually doing the workbook after that. I have a few questions I haven’t finished yet, because they are very thought provoking, and will either finish them tonight or early in the morning when I get up. If I worked ahead of time I would forget everything and have to pretty much redo it on this schedule anyway. So now you know how a woman with a Fibro Fogged brain has to prepare to teach a Bible Study.

At any rate, this week’s reading was very thought provoking. There were so many good parts that I pretty much underlined most of the chapters. The title of this week’s study is Digging Deep and boy is that accurate. I’m really going to have to be careful not to spend the whole time doing all the talking myself. The entire study could easily be like a counseling session for me. It provides us with various suggestions in helping us discover the origins of our insecurities. Basically it narrows down all the possible starting points of the insecurities that have been on our tail our whole life. Some people are of the frame of mind that there’s no need to look back and dwell on the past because you can’t change it anyway. That’s why a lot of people don’t “believe” in therapy/counseling. But I have learned in my experience that it IS helpful to go back and find the catalyst so that you can better understand why you respond to things the way you do. I’ve done that a number of times in my life and have discovered that so many things that have dogged me and made me miserable in the here and now no longer have to have a hold on me. Once I can get to the root of them – see where/why/how they started – then it takes the power away from them and I am able to stand up to them. It’s kind of like forgiving someone. You don’t forgive someone so much for the other person but you do it for yourself so that you can take back the power that said person had over you.

Beth spent chapters 5 & 6 of So Long Insecurity discussing eight roots of insecurity. I’m going to list them here with examples in parenthesis to give you a brief overview. I would dare say you will find a few that you identify with.

  • Instability in the home (including various types of abuse, divorce, substance abuse by a parent, mental or physical illness in the home, financial instability)
  • Significant loss (of a person, a home, a relationship)
  • Rejection (from a parent, friend, spouse, child, boyfriend)
  • Dramatic change (accident, financial crisis, even positive changes like a move or a new baby)
  • Personal limitations (learning disability, physical handicap, scar, acne)
  • Personal disposition and temperament
  • Our culture and the pressure it puts on women to be young and beautiful
  • Pride

I’m going to choose one that I really learned something amazing from and expand on it. I would love to expand on them all but if I did this post would end up way longer than anyone would want to read – no matter how good it is.

One point she made under the Rejection category was about “Perceived” Rejection. I was drawn to that point because I am so bad at perceiving and assuming things that are so far from reality they aren’t even on the same planet. Think about it! You are on the outside of the popular group in school. You watch them day after day, class after class, game after game, lunch after lunch….they never speak to you and you never really speak to them. But in your mind you start thinking of their actions as being exclusive of you. After so long you begin to think of them as rejecting you when in all reality they just have their group of friends and you have your group of friends. A couple of years before it made no difference to you. But over time you have given it TOO MUCH thought and have created this division in your mind. So you have perceived and assumed your way into feeling rejected.

This point hit me because of how I felt ignored and rejected by my dad when I was a child. But since becoming an adult – especially after reading this today – I realized that the rejection I felt was perceived rejection because he never actually turned me away or abandoned me. What I realize now is that all of those days that he would come home from work and disappear into his study and close the door he was actually studying. He worked to get his GED as an adult. I know he took correspondence courses. He worked a full time job but taught in our children’s ministry at church. He directed the youth choir and children’s choirs. He accepted the call to preach while I was a child. So all of those years I perceived he was rejecting me he was really the hardest working man I knew. I couldn’t be a prouder daughter if I tried.

None of us escapes growing up and into adulthood without scars and wounds from somewhere. We all have insecurities that originate from somewhere. Now that we are adults though we can discover the origin and find true freedom and security through Christ. The path we walk isn’t easy. We have so many parts of our life that weighs us down. But when we search out the truth and seek honest change God can heal the hurts within.

 

 

 

The Journey to the River

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)

What does that passage tell you about a secure person? I see that their hope and confidence is going to be found in the Lord and that their roots are buried deep in the fresh nourishing earth untouched by the elements. Oh if only we could all be like that all the time. Sometimes I find myself far from the riverbank, far from the source of refreshing water, beaten down by the sun, dry as a bone with little hope and no confidence in anything. When I stop long enough in my life journey to look around me I see faces of others who seem to be in the same position. And honestly if I can even see the river from the dry desert I am wandering in I don’t see many people near the refreshing life giving water. That’s because we are all being affected by the murmurings and lies being fed to us from every direction and in turn making us feel insecure.

No one, man or woman, escapes the trap of insecurity. Because I am leading a women’s Bible study though I will be addressing women here on my blog. Keep in mind though that there are plenty of men who feel inadequate and pressured every day to measure up to some unseen measuring stick that leads them on a path of helpless insecurity as well.

Think about this just for a moment, what makes you feel the most insecure? Is it your looks, your weight, your financial situation, a relationship with a friend, your childhood or your husband. The list could go on and on. I will be honest with you and say that one area (and this is just ONE of them) that I am most insecure in is my physical appearance. I worry that my hair isn’t the right color, that my makeup looks poorly applied, that my stomach isn’t flat enough and that my legs look too fat in my jeans. If it has ANYTHING to do with my physical appearance I can guarantee you that I’m insecure about it. I’m pretty sure that I feel that way because of the TV shows that I watch and the magazines that I look at. All of the women on the shows and in the magazines look perfect and even if they have a few extras pounds on them I still think they look better than me. Now I ask you – why do I give these perfect strangers so much power over me? Why do I let them determine how I feel about myself today, September 20, 2012, in my own life in Nashville Tennessee? They don’t know who I am. They don’t care who I am. So why do I give them that power?

The kind of security we all need doesn’t come from a mirror, a bottle or another person. The kind of security we need can only come from God. What we really need is someone to love us when we are so distraught with disdain for ourselves. We condemn ourselves in our own minds so much that even if we had a positive thought I’m not sure we could hear it among all of the negative talk. We were created to need God to fulfill all of our needs. He hears all of those things we say to ourselves. He sees how much power we let the world have in determining our self-esteem. He knows the degree of the wounds to our spirit. And he is waiting right there – right in front of us – waiting for us to look up and see him and ask for his help. He knows what Satan’s scheme is. He knows how Satan works. But he also knows how to triumph over Satan. Satan is our enemy. Every lie that enters our mind is straight from him. But for every lie of Satan there is a victorious truth waiting in the open hands of Christ. Listen to HIM! Accept HIS truth!

What waits for us is that hope and confidence rooted deep into the refreshing waters Jeremiah wrote about. Join me on the journey to the river! We’ll go together as secure sisters!

In A Word….Insecurities

I have been reading a Beth Moore book on insecurity. It’s called So Long, Insecurity. Oh if it were only that simple to just tell it goodbye and that is the end of that. I know that insecurity is just a part of life. I doubt there is anyone out there who doesn’t deal with insecurity in some part of their lives. And if anyone says they don’t then I’m pretty sure they are blind to that part of themselves or just downright fibbing.

If I were to list all the areas of my life where I am insecure I would have to make this entry into a series. And God only knows how long that series would be. I have done many Bible studies that have brought my insecurities to the surface and forced me to deal with them only to find a few months later that they are right back where they started from – right in the center of my heart. I think they are kind of like that plastic wrapping that you can’t shake off your hands when you unwrap something. You know the kind I mean, it’s all static-y and clings to you. You may happen up on an instance in your life where you are forced to face an area of insecurity. You spend days or weeks bringing it to the surface, working to understand where it came from, struggle your way through the process – and just when you think  you’ve nipped it in the bud something happens and BAM there it is again. It’s clings to you.

Your area of insecurity may involve your looks, your intelligence, your relationship with someone in your life or your upbringing. Insecurities arise from the lies we tell ourselves or lies others tell us and we choose to believe. But God created us in His perfect image. I saw a quote this morning and retweeted it. It says “It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes” (Sally Field). That’s exactly what we are doing to ourselves – judging ourselves through other’s eyes. We should be seeing ourselves through the eyes of our creator. Yet we spend more time worrying about how we are viewed by someone else and don’t give a second thought to God’s view. That’s why we can never free ourselves from our insecurities. Only God can help us to be the person we were meant to be. He made us. He knows us better than anyone. When we allow ourselves to work to please other people we are going to fail. Until we correct our motivation we will remain on the roller coaster of insecurity.

Think about it – we feel insecure about the way we look because we see someone else who looks better. We feel insecure about what and how much we feel like we know and can talk intelligently about because we hear someone else speak on a higher level than we can ever think. We feel insecure about our level of spiritual intelligence because we feel so-and-so is so much closer to God and knows so much more about the Bible. The common denominator in those situations is the “other person” – the “someone else”. We should be measuring ourselves against what God says in His Word. We need only be concerned with God’s view of us and how we live – not man. Other people are just as flawed as we are.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to get all of this into one entry. Looks like I will be back with more. If you have connected with anything I have said here you may want to pick up a copy of Beth’s book. You can follow the link above to find out how to purchase one. The book is also listed in my “On My Nightstand” page as one of the book I cannot recommend enough. I’m on my second pass through the book. It is amazing. I’m hoping more of it “sticks” this time through.

God bless you as you travel your journey through life and fight with your insecurities. I truly know the path well.