In junior high, it seems nothing can be worse than a new school year and the dreaded lunch break. It is the time when your social future is seemingly decided. You awkwardly stumble through lunch line, heart pounding, as you receive the sloppy joe, boxed milk, and cold fries. You retrieve your plate and turn to find a seat. Inevitably, it happens. You quickly survey the room, scanning the crowd for even one familiar face, and everyone seems to have found their group of friends. Cliques form and many teen girls are convinced they don’t belong anywhere.
I thought insecurity was marked for just the awkward pre-teen and teen years, until I broached my twenties with the same problems. In my early twenties, like many that age, I struggled to find who I was, where I fit in, and what I wanted for my future. It seemed that everyone had their lives more together than me. I fell into comparison, always struggling to measure up. It seemed someone always had a better life than me in so many ways. They were prettier, smarter, and more organized. They had more money and more friends. They were thinner and happier. Whatever the comparison, I struggled to move beyond it.
I don’t think most would have known how insecure I was. I carried myself well at work and had friends, but my insecurity reared its ugly head in many ways. If I walked by office staff at work, I was convinced they were talking ugly about me. I often isolated and didn’t want to meet new people in social settings. It gave me great anxiety. Upon meeting new co-workers or friends, I would shake their hand, convinced they were sizing me up and instantly they would see all my flaws. It caused me to not only isolate, but also to be angry or petty. Many times, my own insecurity would allow me to gossip about a new girl at work or make snide comments if she succeeded in an area. I didn’t rejoice in her victories, but rather demeaned them, as it only highlighted those things I felt about myself.
It trickled into church life, too. I hated joining new Bible studies or groups at church, because when I walked into a new environment, I thought others would stare or possibly judge me. Sadly, the insecurity led to lonely nights at home and probably lost potential friendships, too.
I am thankful to have walked the journey and grown in confidence of who Christ has created me to be. It has surprised me recently to see many women in their 40s, 50s, and beyond still struggling with the same insecurities I battled so many years ago. I guess I always thought that as you got older, insecurities just automatically dissipated. It doesn’t. I am convinced that Satan’s plan is to whisper in our ear, constantly, how we don’t measure up and we never will. He convinces us others won’t understand, their lives are better than ours, and we will never be accepted. Insecurities take root and if not careful, we become easily offended, bitter, angry, and petty.
Here are three powerful principles for battling the beast of insecurity:
1. Recognize that everyone will battle. Insecurity isn’t just for awkward teen girls, single girls in their twenties, or even women for that matter. It is a tactic Satan would love to use against us all. In fact, he’ll use it more frequently, if he finds it successful in your life. You are not the only one.
2. Trust what you know, not what you feel. There have been times when my feelings didn’t necessarily line up with who God said I was. I didn’t feel strong, courageous, forgiven, hopeful, chosen, renewed, beautiful, complete, and free. But just because I didn’t feel those things didn’t mean that they weren’t true. Our feelings are misleading. The Bible is full of great Scriptures that give us a glimpse into the love our Heavenly Father has for us and how he sees us. All else is a lie from the enemy who would attempt to convince you that you do not measure up.
3. Retaliation never solves the problem. You have likely been told by a friend, co-worker, or others something that wasn’t life-giving. Maybe someone made a snide remark, untrue statement, or devalued you in some way. Be slow to anger. Maybe they are battling insecurity in some way. Resolve to pray for that person, when it happens.
There are many Scriptures that can encourage you through insecurity and help you win the battle. Here are a few of my favorites:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker whose personal journey through homelessness, severe abuse, and single parenting leaves audiences riveted. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. For more info, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.