I had 4 separate conversations with women this week about personal insecurity and the constant, ongoing battle to not view themselves as less. These were incredible woman, all! Each of them is talented, successful, dynamic – a woman you would notice when she walks in the room. It made me stop and think.
In my experience, women and insecurity tend to go hand in hand. If we get a compliment, we’re quick to tell you what wasn’t good or right about our appearance or performance. If we’ve done something really well, our next thought tends to be what could have been slightly better.
We are the Queens of comparison. Is she closer to my idea of an ideal height than I am? Check. Is she skinnier than me? Check. Does she have a better figure? Check. Does she seem more dynamic, more confident, more everything? Check. Then we pick up our checklists and proceed to rip ourselves to shreds. Someone having a nice figure somehow morphs into our own inadequacies about our figure and the eternal (and futile) quest to have a perfect one. If she’s accomplished more than we have, somehow whatever we’ve achieved seems like a big pile of nothing in comparison.
And find me a woman who hasn’t read a popular magazine and felt fat and dumpy, or looked back at pictures of herself from 10 years ago only to realize she was prettier, skinnier and overall far more wonderful than she realized in the moment. I have had the privilege of meeting many amazing women – talented, successful, beautiful, intelligent, insightful, dynamic individuals who really shine brightly in this world. Even they will tell you they have days they don’t feel worth much, times they doubt themselves and believe they fall short.
Yet as women, that same scrutiny helps us to hone in on someone who is feeling vulnerable and offer them encouragement and compassion. It gives us the ability to see when someone is struggling and offer support and love. It’s our sensitivity that helps us pick up on all those subtle clues telling us a child is starting to get sick, a loved one is in pain, or a dear friend is actually struggling as she hides behind that beautiful smile. It can be a wonderful strength.
Now as much as I’d love to say I don’t struggle with insecurity, I do. I have waves of it wash over me from time to time, trying to drown me under a blanket of negativity and self-doubt. I lament over all I’m not and whatever I am seems like rubbish. As a young woman, this would frustrate me. I wanted to be confident and secure, I wanted to rejoice with others instead of making it about myself, but it seemed no matter how hard I tried insecurity would still rear it’s ugly head.
I remember sharing how discouraged I felt with a dear friend of mine. She gave me a jewel of wisdom I have held onto tightly ever since. She gently reminded me of how far I had come and all the ways I’d grown in this area. Then she said, “This may never completely change in you. You may struggle with insecurity for the rest of your life. So what? The key thing is you’re continuing to grow. That’s all you can ask for.”
Somehow that set me free. No longer did I feel like a failure when I struggled. I was able to calmly and rationally pull out my list of ways God hadchanged and stretched me to combat the feelings of worthlessness. I was able to remind myself it was a process. I would have battles from time to time and not only was that okay, it was normal. It’s like it gave me permission to be fully human.
And I love knowing God embraces me in the midst of my messy thinking and moments of self-loathing and doubt. He tells me:
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17
“I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” Ro. 8:38-39
“See, I have you engraved on the palms of my hands.” Is. 49:16a
God holds me in the palm of His hand, and He holds you, too. You are enough for him. You are loved by Him. The talents, gifts and abilities He’s placed within you are there for you to acknowledge, take off their shelves, and be used to encourage others, not to belittle yourself with. God will never sell you short. He gave up literally the very best He had just to have a relationship with you. When you and I remember our worth before Him, the insecurity melts away.
For further thought: If you’re a woman, think of a strength in your life that comes from your sensitivity and thank God for it. There is a plus side! If you’re a man, encourage a woman you know about one way you’ve seen her sensitivity and thoughtfulness be a blessing in your life or in the life of others.