Years ago, I was a speaker for a session at a women’s retreat. This was some time ago—15 years or so. I was young and inexperienced at a lot of things. But, I was excited for the opportunity to share with the women at this retreat.
I was not the main retreat speaker, but an “after lunch session” speaker. You can probably see where this is going. It was hard. I was losing them. I could feel it—I sensed it. I saw it on their faces. I was not the dynamic speaker that the main speaker was. She reached them in a way I wasn’t able. She had a story I didn’t have. As I stood there watching their faces, lunch settling in and the food coma descending, I felt my words bouncing off the walls. I became more and more discouraged. I felt more and more like a failure the longer I went.
On the drive home, I beat myself up. I was a failure. What made me think I could ever be a public speaker? Why did I ever think I could do something so amazing? I was a dud. How foolish I must have looked! I decided right then and there I would NEVER do THAT again. EVER. My speaking circuit career was going to be short lived. One and done!
I’m not sure whether those ladies got anything out of my talk or not, but indeed, I kept that promise to myself. For several years, I refused to ever give public speaking another go. I cloaked it in “it really isn’t my season for public speaking.” And, honestly, the opportunities dried up. I believe me telling God I would never do that again, even when I felt cautioned against saying it, spoke something into my life.
Slowly, over the last couple of years, I have occasionally allowed myself to stand up and try it again….always against my better judgement. I look at all those years I could have used to grow my skills and talent, but didn’t. How much more seasoned might I be? I certainly would have gained some great wisdom and experiences.
Have you ever done this to yourself? Have you ever had a supposed failure and shut yourself down from ever stepping out to try again? I didn’t receive criticism from anybody but myself. I was my harshest and cruelest critic. I allowed insecurity to set up camp and shut down opportunities for my life.
Do you let insecurity settle in and define who are or what you do? Do you define yourself by what you do? How about what you know, or maybe, don’t know? What about what you have or don’t have? It’s a crazy problem I see all around. And further, how are we supposed to keep our Littles from spiraling into this mindset when we can’t seem to untangle ourselves from this giant knotted mess ourselves? We have to do better!
After doing some research on this topic of self-image, I have learned a few lessons I think will challenge me before I get into another situation like the story above (because, it’s probably going to happen in some way, some where again!). I will be better equipped to handle the self accusation that will come hurdling against my heart.
First, our deepest longing is for unconditional love. We have this hole in which only unconditional love can fill. The only place unconditional love comes from is Christ. People try. But, really, Christ is the only source of unconditional love. We have to know our place in that love. We have to receive this love that requires no performance on our part.
Second, we have to know who we are in Christ. He has to be our Center. Everything else flows from that. Every part of our self has to come from that Center. It will effect every area of our life. If we are living in insecurity, we are focusing on ourselves and not on Christ.
Third, I have to speak aloud who I am in Christ. I have to hear myself. You know, we believe more of what we hear ourselves say than what anybody else says. I have to stop speaking the negative story lines and words about myself. It really isn’t anybody else’s job to prop me up every day. I have to encourage myself in Christ.
Fourth, I am not what I do, what I have, what I know, or any lack thereof. I am everything in Christ—nothing in myself—but everything in Christ! I must get my focus off of myself and onto who I am in Christ. If I look at any of those things, I will only have a false sense of security or an unfortunate sense of insecurity.
So, the sure-fire cure for the insecure heart is this—knowing Christ’s unconditional love. It is the cure for the aching heart and the strained mind. Life has a way of clobbering the daring right out of our heart, if we let it. Stepping out with courage requires a heart settled on this amazing, unconditional love.
I know insecurity is settling in for a nice, long stay when I am constantly comparing myself to others, I’m easily offended or can’t take criticism well. So, I have to actively fight the monster with this powerful truth. I am unconditionally loved by the Creator of the universe. He created me. I am not perfect and that is okay. He loves me anyway. I will not focus on me, but on the one Who created me. He is my Center and all parts of my life will come from that place. Because He is my center, I can stand strong in who I am in Him. That is more than enough.
I will open my arms and heart to new adventures. I will rest in the knowledge that I am enough in Him. Aren’t you ready for that less-pressured way of living, too?