It happened again the other night. I was blindsided by insecurity. I walked into an evening I had been looking forward to, and rather than stepping into the room with joy, I suddenly felt the heavy weight of judgment and awkwardness. It was through no fault of anyone there. It was simply me, suddenly tongue tied, tripping over my words, and unable to connect with others. All day leading up to it, I had been exited, while preparing food, and I didn't feel an ounce of insecurity while brushing my teeth, and slipping on shoes. But something sank over me in the car as I drove to meet up with my friends. Suddenly in the quiet, my focus slipped from outward to inward, and stayed there the rest of the night. It's as if I had been peddling along peacefully on a bike, and someone had stuck a stick into the spokes of my tires. I had a tumble, was a little stunned, and couldn't get it back after that.
Later that evening, I flopped on our bed and expressed my frustration and struggle to my husband. He listened, I made some tea and settled to the fact that it had been an off night. It just happens. Move forward.
But I couldn't shake the niggling thought of the randomness of it. I didn't know when or how this almost crippling insecurity would hit me, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much this inward focus and worry had ruined many a book club evening, or what could have been connection and deep conversation, a beautiful dinner, or even the way I decorated my house and shopped for clothes.
These thoughts kept rising to the surface like bubbles, and I began to see a pattern of insecurity. A pattern that I wanted to change. But how? I did the only thing I could and whispered a prayer of help before falling asleep.
The next morning, I was of the frame of mind to not dwell on it, and move forward. But God's ears were open to my tired plea. And in the midst of an ordinary day, going through my usual routine of reading a chapter from each book in my stack, I was met by His kindness.
Now, it doesn't usually happen when I'm confused or praying for guidance in an area that the very next day the answer I am seeking seems to fall into my lap. But this time it did.
The chapter I happened to read that morning was from Emily P. Freeman's book The Next Right Thing. And in that very chapter she wrote about her insecurity, need for acceptance, and fear of the judgment of others. It felt like I was reading my diary. And yet, I felt the kindness of God as I absorbed her words in one deep inhale. He let me know that I was not alone. Sometimes we can get stuck in our own heads, and just knowing that someone else gets insecurity in a way you can relate with is in itself a gift.
In the chapter she writes, "When I'm hanging on to the false narrative of my own life, I walk into the room thinking Here I am, what are they all thinking of me? rather than, There you are, welcome. I walk in lonely, looking for approval, rather than in solitude with Jesus, looking to build a connection with others. We bring what we believe about ourselves and what we believe about God into every situation, gathering, and decision."
The solution to my insecurity begins with a focus shift. It begins with taking my eyes off myself and remembering that I don't need to measure up to anyone. My business is not to please others, but to remember my true identity. Some days my thoughts and fears feel like bouncy balls inside my head, and I don't have the agility or skill to run after each one and make them be still. I've committed these simple, yet anchoring words by James Bryan Smith to memory. It's a call to remembrance. " I am one in whom Christ dwells and delights. I live in the unshakable Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is not in trouble, and neither am I."
Instead of letting my thoughts dart about in my head, worrying about how I measure up or compare, what if I found myself in stubborn rest, eyes fixed on Jesus, the one who is my true identity and in whom I am fully seen, known, and loved. If this became my habit and goal, it would change how i walked into every room. It would change my life.
What if you joined me in remembering who we are? If we can learn to think of ourselves as the Beloved, those in whom Christ dwells and delights, saints who struggle with sin (we’re not Home yet) rather than sinners first as our primary identity, What would that change?
What if we could begin to re-train our minds and hearts to find our acceptance in Christ first? The rest, beauty, connection, contentment, and joy would be unmatched. We would no longer walk into rooms with the heavy weight of judgment over our shoulders and with our guards up. With this focus shift, we could look outward at others and see them as Christ sees them. We could walk into a room and say, "There you are, welcome."