The Truth About Insecurity in Women
We’ve all been there. And we’ve all done it. That “up-down-up” glance that you give a woman when she walks in the room. And I’m not just talking to men here.
I’m talking to women who use another woman’s outward appearance to justify themselves. When we do that quick scan, we decide whether or not she is a “threat” to our own beauty. In less than a second, we form an opinion on whether or not we like everything from her shoes to the style of her hair; and based on that information, we decide how to relate to her.
Even worse: sometimes we dig deeper than what’s on the outside. We begin to ask what she does for a living, how she feels about last night’s episode, and what her hopes and dreams are. Then we further categorize the different aspects of her life as above or below us.
I can’t be talking to myself here. I can’t be the only one.
We do this because we’re insecure.
Romans 12:3 clearly says that we shouldn’t think of ourselves more highly than we ought, but rather, we should think of ourselves with sober judgment, taking time to humbly reflect on the precious, completely undeserved gift of faith and freedom that we have been given through Christ. Call me crazy, but I think there is a great difference between knowing that you’re free in Christ and thinking you’re free enough to start putting someone else down.
This is how I felt the first day I met Leah. It was my first night helping with the youth ministry at my church, and I felt so out of place. Like my dog Teddy in the Oval Office. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a British period drama. Like my grandma at a biker’s bar. Like way outta place.
I met the other female leader, Leah, right away and immediately saw how inadequate I was.
She was older, more mature, gorgeous, had a full time job, the kids loved her, and she just had a way about her that drew everyone in.
And there I was.
So new that I didn’t even know where the broom was to sweep up the mess that I made when I awkwardly knocked something off of the counter. Still in undergrad. Still didn’t know any of the kids. Still hadn’t made friends among the leaders.
And for better or for worse, I used that information to categorize myself. I used that information to categorize Leah. I envied her position in life and was a little bit jealous of her in many ways.
She was unbelievably kind to me, but every time she spoke to me, I heard everything through the pre-set filter of my own insecurity. I had things that I wanted to say to her, but fear of what she would think about me kept me from opening up to her in a way that looked like what sisters in Christ should look like.
Keep in mind that on the outside, everything was fine. We laughed, served and prayed for one another; we talked about the youth ministry and where we saw it going. But on the inside, my barriers had gone up and no ninja with ten times Mr. Miyagi’s skill could scale those walls. (p.s. I love you if you get that reference.)
Then one evening, as the lady leaders sat talking to the youth group girls during our devotional time, the topic of insecurity came up.
“If you’re a woman and you’re alive and on this earth, then you’re probably insecure,” Leah shared. “This is something that we all struggle with.”
‘Liar,’ I thought to myself. ‘Every woman except you, Leah.’ I had never met another woman who was more confident and sure of herself than the woman who had just spoken those words.
“For example,” she went on, oblivious to my silent thoughts, “I think that because Katelyne is thin that she probably doesn’t feel insecure at all. But in reality, Katelyne probably has very real struggles, too.”
My head snapped up. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. Did she really think that because I had a smaller-than-average dress size that I wasn’t insecure? To me, that made no sense because my body image wasn’t something I had really wrestled with. But what I did struggle with the stunting crutch of wondering what other people thought of me.
‘Leah has never worried what anyone thinks about her,’ I thought. ‘She has no reason to feel insecure.’
But that’s just the thing about insecurity. The more you perceive someone else as secure, the more you feel insecure.
And, a lot of times as a woman, I catch myself thinking that if someone isn’t struggling the same way as me, then they must not be struggling at all.
But here’s the great thing about God: He knows me. He knows the ugly, twisted parts of my heart that I wrestle with every day. He knows how insecure I feel around other women sometimes. He knows when sin starts to rear its ugly head, and He provides a way out.
My way out of this specific situation was Leah’s own compassion and loving-kindness toward me. The way that she trusted me with matters of her heart showed me that she was just like me in many ways. I wish I could tell you that I read a verse and the light dawned, the scales fell off of my eyes and I became the person I am today, but instead it was a slow process, during which the Holy Spirit chipped away at the Teflon coating that covered my heart.
Leah took the initiative and began to build a relationship between us that looks like what Biblical community should look like. One conversation here, one convicting Bible passage there, and before I knew it, the Teflon was gone like last week’s lima beans, and I was left with a heart that knew that the jealous and insecure comparison game I was playing was wrong. That game is no fun, and there are no winners, ever. Not even a sticker for participating if you mentally survive to the end.
Allow me to explain the rest of the story. No. There is too much. Instead, please allow me to sum up. (p.s. I love you if you get that reference, too).
Here’s what I know:
- When I insecurely compare myself to others, I am trying to see if I am the best. I want to be the best because I want other people to like me.
- My job on this earth is not to get other people to like me. If all I ever do is build a little fan club of people who like Katelyne, then I have miserably failed. Instead, I want to do what I can to build a community of people who desperately love Jesus, who wait on His strength, who follow His call, even to the point of discomfort. And insecurity has no place in that.
Sometimes, I still struggle with being insecure. Sometimes, those hideous feelings crop up on my best days. But now, I combat that with the knowledge of exactly who I am in Christ, how He has called me to live, and what He has called me to do. I know where my worth and acceptance are found, and it is not in what other people do or do not like about me. He is the only One from Whom I seek favor.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. -2 Corinthians 12:9
The work of the Kingdom is stretched out before me. My bags are packed, the car is loaded, and I am ready to go, but nowhere in my entourage of belongings can I find any room to strap down the crutch of insecurity. If I am committed to doing the work of my Father, than that is one piece of my past that I will have to leave behind.
If people are drawn to me, I want them to be drawn in by the love of the Heavenly Father that this unworthy, broken vessel holds.
If I am driven to be my best, I want that to stem from a desire for everything that I do to bring glory to God. And if I awkwardly stumble and struggle with insecurity again, I want to rest in the sweet peace that comes from knowing that this walk will never be perfect, but it will be authentic.
(P.s. If you get that reference, too, then you’re crazy because I totally just made that up on the fly).