I have generally considered myself to be a strong, confident woman. I am strong-willed, well educated, fairly well-read, and have a penchant for using a well-rounded, large vocabulary. I can speak to large crowds and command an audience, deliver off-the-cuff dissertations my children are fond of calling “momalogues” on nearly any topic, and write with authority in an eloquent voice or a humorous narrative as needed.
Yet what I have believed most of life to be a secure nature was, in reality, nothing more than a security blanket, a cover. In truth, as I have come to closely examine myself through deeper introspection (thank you God), I recognize that I have always felt naked to others around me, open to scrutiny, judged, even earmarked for certain failure. My “security” in response has been covering all things with witty conversation, playful or pointed banter, the fluent use of aforementioned large vocabulary to provide a guise of acceptance, perhaps even a carefully worded fib to flatter a less than stellar past or present.
Here’s the rub, despite all my orchestrated tactics, a single word, a glance, an acknolwedgement of my efforts or unspoken gesture could topple my spirit faster than a tower of cards and leave me drowning in a pity-puddle of my own making. This is the me I’d rather not have you see.
Insecurity is defined simply as 1. uncertainty of anxiety about oneself; a lack of confidence. Simple enough. But let’s look closer. Further we read that it is also the state of being open to danger or threat; a lack of protection.
The world is quick to wrongly conclude that an insecure person is often shy, introverted to a fault, a weakling around other or even afraid in her own skin. Sometimes, this is the case. But more often than not, the face of insecurity looks much like what I’ve described because it’s the deeper, lesser known definition that many of us are akin to. I am here to share that I am a tragically insecure person who on the surface can and does rise to the occassion and rarely fails others, but who on the inside, continues to be a disappointment to herself, always open to the threat or danger that she might or does disappoint everyone else. It is a dirty little secret. And it’s time I came out of the shadows to call it out.
Insecurity has so many faces. This is only one of them. It might surprise you to consider what successful people deal with on the inside. Consider the honor student who seems to have it all but turns up a statistic one tragic night by her own hand. Your heavy-handed boss; is she like that for a reason? I see this far to frequently in women in leadership who overcompensate with a steely exterior. Is this how we define strength? Often we cover our fears and insecurities with micro-managing others or demand absolute perfection. To the other extreme, we’re pleasers. Not yes-men, just ready to lend a hand and be Dudley Do-Rights. The better we look on the outside, the more we’re protected on the inside. You might find we make friends easily, but rarely invest deeply because too often, rejection follows.
We are far too often overly and sadly, outwardly critical. We’re not snobs, we can be; but we work hard to provide diplomatic, pragmatic criticism rather than just complain.
For myself, I pride myself on being mannerly and dignified, politically precise and self-aware (or so I thought), just as my mother taught me. This is my public persona. To know me, you would say, as you have on many occasions, that I truly have it all together and am a testimony to strength.
You don’t know me at all. And I mean this with no disrespect. This is what I want you to see. Because at home, I am altogether a different animal, one I don’t only dislike, but neither of us would recognize as even sane. On the street, to read the fear in my heart responding to a word or an unintended slight, you would be remiss. It’s there, in a slight lowering of my head, a downcast gaze, a little frown or a darkening of my eyes, a change in my demeanor, but you’d likely miss it. At home, the effect is significantly more palpable.
This too, is my dirty little secret. This fearful attitude has reduced me to insane behavior that threatens to take over completely. No, I’m not insane. But this is the tragedy of bondage to an insecure spirit. It takes us to a place we don’t want or need to be. It is a danger to us that divides us from our families because that’s where it’s most effective. The deeply we wallow in self-doubt, alone and secluded because we’ve chased everyone away, the better it can “minister” to our broken state and perpetuate it.
I know who I am in God. I understand my position. And yet, here I am, a slave to insecurity. Slave to a cruel, unrelenting taskmaster that has shaped my responses an shipwrecked my ability to allow the truth, the reality of my security in Christ to be what defines me. Eleanor Roosevelt said that no one has the power to make you feel inferior without your permission. Congratulations, permission granted…all aboard. And so the harsh, sometimes meaningless words and offenses have lodged so deep in my heart throughout my life, festering under the surface that even years later, they work to the surface like fresh wounds that never truly heal.
This is the face of insecurity for me that leaves me so vulnerable and unprotected with open festering sores that sting to the touch. They have made me jaded, have kept me from deep, abiding relationships with people and even God. And as long as this defines me, He cannot.
So Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters in conflict that they may face their insecurities through you and see themselves as You do. I give You permission over mine to break the spirit of insecurity and bind my wounds as only You can. Allow me to walk in freedom, in victory, to shut down the voice of criticism that speaks to me and through me to cover my fear. I give You permission to be my cover. I release the words and slights I have nurtured, things I cannot name, all these things I release in Jesus’ Name and I receive Your blessing over my life. Father I stand in the gap for my brothers and sisters that they also may triumph in the same victory and blessing. Amen.
Jeremiah 33: 6 Behold, I will bring to it health an healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.
Proverbs 1:33 But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.