Feeling insecure? Me too.
It doesn’t take much..someone’s side glance, that new pimple that just made its grand appearance. Or possibly realizing you shouldn’t have eaten that second cupcake this weekend, after noticing the muffin that grew above your pants.
Insecurities can grow and fester in us until they have successfully done their job of making us feel uglier, fatter, dumber, less than, or (fill in the blank) everyone else around us.
Insecurities love to feed off of each other too. Ever have one of those days or even weeks where you had a pimple pop up one day, then the next day you get a cold sore, then you see Suzie So and So with her perfect hair and nails commenting on your ‘tacky’ shirt? I mean, really, did she say that about you when her pants were bright pink and way too tight, even if she is a size 2. I mean PINK?! Really?!
They can also come in the midst of a conversation. Perhaps someone makes a comment about how you responded to a certain situation. Or maybe it was at the meeting when you decided to make a comment about how the event was being planned and you heard some whispers around you. You were sure they were talking about you.
For the last couple of weeks we have been talking about approval addiction and many of you have commented that you now realize, well, yes, I am an approval addict. I have a problem.
The first week we took a little quiz to know whether we have an approval issue, last week we chatted about people-pleasing and understood we can make some choices…be like Saul and end up rejected from our position or be like David and be named “a woman/man” after God’s own heart.
Today we are talking about feeling insecure and how this feeling can send us into a cycle that can cause destruction, all because we don’t yet know who we are. Insecurities are just another piece of the approval addiction puzzle.
Caught Up in The Approval Cycle
It typically begins with someone saying something that is not affirming to me. For example, someone challenges my leadership (I lead a non-profit, so it fits). They tell me what they think of a decision I made by calling into question my capabilities as a leader.
I want nothing more than to run and hide. I think, “Well, forget this, I’ll take my leadership skills somewhere that appreciates me.” Or if I feel like I really messed up, I’ll decide I am giving up leading forever.
That’s what addictions do to us; they take us to the extremes, where there is no grey.
When I return to my desk those words fester. The words run on repeat, amplifying in my head. I fight my feelings of insecurity by telling myself, “You are better than that person. Who do they think they are to point out my flaws? They have no idea what it’s like to be in my shoes, and I sure would like to see them try.”
I may make matters worse by sharing the other person’s comments to find approval elsewhere. Now my addiction yields to sin and the cycle continues.
From here it just gets worse. Distancing myself, I believe if that person thinks it, everyone does. I start to feel less peace, the guilt and shame are eating me up, and my time with God starts to lessen. Embarrassed by it all, I isolate myself.
At this point, I am far from the truth and God. Depression is sinking in and I don’t know how to get myself out.
Can you relate to this at all?
This is the approval cycle and it can all begin by someone or something making us feel insecure.
So what do we do, how do we change?
Did God Actually Say?
In the book of Genesis, we find the story of Adam and Eve. It is there we read how the first attack on humanities’ insecurities began. ?” In Genesis 3:1, ESV we walk in on the story of the serpent questioning Eve’s identity as a daughter of God.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’
Did you catch how the serpent began…“Did God actually say?”
Those four words are powerful, aren’t they? They can bring a confident person to their knees. Those words changed the trajectory of humanity.
Four words, one simple question: “Did God actually say?”
If you know the story, then you know how this ends. The question attacked Eve’s confidence in God, and it made her doubt herself, her husband, her memory, and her ability to make a decision.
The serpent in the garden called into question the perfection of God’s creation. He began by questioning Adam and Eve’s capabilities as caretakers. Today he does the same thing to us. Do we know who—and whose—we are? Are we aware of what we have been given to steward, or are we confused about our purpose? Do we understand the power within us, or do we see ourselves as powerless?
The question, “Did God actually say…?” undermines our sense of security in God.
However, you have something that Eve didn’t, the experience of her mistakes. We can take her mishaps and learn from it. Here are a few ways you can do that.
Recognize the Attack
When we are feeling insecure we, first of all, we need to realize there is an enemy, he is cunning, and he is always trying to undermine the image-bearers of God. But our enemies are not made of flesh and blood, Ephesians 6:12 tells us we wrestle “against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT).
Know Who You Are
In order to combat the attack from the enemy, we must know who we are and whose we are. It would have been great if Eve would have said, “Um, excuse me. Do you know who you are talking to? I am the Daughter of the Most High God.” But just because she didn’t, doesn’t mean we can’t. So instead of listening to the negativity, remind your attacker who you are and whose you are. As a believer in Christ Jesus, you are a daughter of God, an heir to the throne, a chosen people, a royal priesthood, He has equipped you and called you to do the good works that He has called YOU to do. You may not do it all perfectly, but you will do it in His strength and His power and by His name.
No More Guilt Trips or Shame Parties
Guilt and shame do not come from God. Did you know that? Isaiah 61:7 says “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.” So instead you can walk in His grace, rejoice in your inheritance, and receive the joy that comes from a relationship with Him.”
Combat Insecurity with Forgiveness
This is an essential piece to breaking this cycle. Forgiveness changes everything. We need to realize that on most occasions when someone says something hurtful to you it was because of their own wounds, and their own insecurities. Wounded people, wound people. But since we know they were not the ones attacking us, we need to release them by forgiving them. You also may need to ask for forgiveness from the person that you went and ran your mouth to about what was said in the first place. And you may need to seek forgiveness for yourself because you sought other things than God to fill your approval needs.
Now the next time you are feeling insecure whether, over a pimple or a person, scripture is your weapon. Remember you are a mighty warrior, a royal priesthood, a child of God. You, my friend, are from a holy nation, and you have been declared righteous and worthy in the sight of the Most High God. You are seated in heavenly places and have been given the riches according to Christ Jesus that you can tap into any time you need them. You are not defined by the words of another because God did actually say you are all of these things and so much more. You are His friend; belonging to Him. You no longer need to worry about the approval of the world, because you already are approved by God.
Question: What part of the cycle do you feel you struggle with the most and how can you combat it in the future?