Insecurity: uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.
I hate that word. I hate the meaning of the word. I hate the reality surrounding it.
Why would a Christian struggle with insecurity? Why would a Christian worry about what people think of them? Why would a Christian lack confidence?
If I didn’t know better, I’d say those Christians are sorry excuses for Christians, that they have no reason to feel that way, and they must have an extra low measure of faith.
But I do know better. I know better than to criticize those Christians or make assumptions about them based on this one particular area of weakness.
I know because I am one of them.
Body image isn’t a big issue for me. I don’t care so much about what I literally look like to other people. Physical appearances aren’t my concern.
Still, I’m insecure. I question the things I do and the words I speak. Memories of the many times I’ve said or done the wrong thing torture me when they’re brought to mind. Being around people is extremely stressful, and maybe it’s because I’m afraid of what they’ll think of me.
I can’t help it. I can’t change the fact that I’m immensely insecure. I can’t change the fact I have social anxiety issues. I can’t change the way that my mind seems incapable of correctly processing the experience of being around people and interacting with them. I can’t change the feelings of self-hatred and discouragement that well up in me when I’ve messed up and made myself look dumb.
But I can remind myself of the truth.
Will the truth make me feel better? Probably not. After all, emotions are rascally little mischief-makers and they don’t like to be guided by the truth.
What the truth can do is protect me.
This is not a purely spiritual battle. There are mental issues going on, the deception of our emotions and a whole bunch of other stuff. But you better believe Satan isn’t going to take pity on us when we’re weak.
In fact, Satan loves to strike when we’re the most vulnerable. And so, while the truth might not win the mental and emotional battle, the truth is necessary if you don’t want to lose the far more important spiritual battle.
Let me warn you, my friend: no matter what our emotions tell us, we must always guard ourselves with the truth.
What is the truth?
Our identity is in Christ.
We were dead in our transgressions, doing whatever wickedness we desired, being ruled by Satan, and under the wrath of God because of our sinfulness. But God, because of the depth of his love for us, mercifully revived us from our dead state through Christ. Our salvation is not anything of our own doing, it is the gift of God. We are God’s creation, created to do the good that God has prepared for us to do with our lives. (Ephesians 2:1-10)
The gospel is the story of who we are. Ultimately, we aren’t defined by the way we look, act, or talk, but by the precious truth that in Christ we are redeemed.
The approval of God is better than the approval of man.
“For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul explains how he had all there was to boast about: religious zeal and piety, respect, high esteem… he was the elite of the elite. And yet he gave all this up for the sake of knowing Christ. (Philippians 3:4-10) Here he shows us that seeking the favor of men was part of his old way of life. That doesn’t matter to him anymore.
Paul knew what we too must remember: God’s favor and acceptance is far more valuable than the favor and acceptance of other people. Instead of worrying about whether people like us, we ought to focus on pleasing God.
God looks not on appearances but at the heart.
Chances are, you’ve heard that “God looks not on outward appearances but at the heart.” As cliche as this may sound, we can’t overlook the implications of this simple but profound truth.
So what if you don’t have incredible looks? Jesus was just an average looking dude, according to Isaiah 53.
So what if you’re not good at talking to people? Moses stuttered and blundered.
So what if you make mistakes? Look at the saints in Hebrews 11, and tell me if you find one that never messed up.
Those things don’t matter. What matters to God is what is in your heart.
The Cure for Insecurity
There is no absolute cure.
Ultimately, insecurity is an effect of our own fallen nature. Is it sin? Not unless you allow your insecure feelings to affect your actions. Insecurity is a part of living in this messed up world, a part that we just have to deal with. Like the kind of cancer that goes away but eventually will come back, insecurity will never be completely gone. But we can treat it.
When insecurity whispers lies into your ear, tune it out. Let God speak to you through his Word. Preach the truth to yourself. Or literally turn on some music that speaks truth to the situation you’re in.
Whatever we do, we must not let insecurity rule over us. Regardless of how we feel, we must know the truth and we must live by it.