Saturday, November 23, 2013


Y'all! You are so wonderful! Your encouragement, your honesty, and just the fact that you would take the time to read my words. Holy smokes.

Admitting that I struggle with insecurity has been so freeing for me. It started with conversations with a few friends and then I decided I may as well go "public" on here. Seriously, I'm so thankful that it was encouraging to some of you, because just bringing my struggle into the light has helped me

My wonderful friend, Kayla, has continued the insecurity conversation over at her blog. She talked about losing ourselves. Her thoughts are one piece of the direction my thoughts have been going. So, instead of reinventing the wheel, I'll just suggest you head over to her blog and read her words. They are honest and real and, well, you'll see why I count Kayla as a huge gift from the Lord. 

In response to my blog, I had two women recommend that I check out Brene Brown. Brown is a professor at the University of Houston who studies shame and vulnerability, particularly in women. I know I won't do justice to her research in just a few short words here. But, here's a short summary of one of her presentations: 

Brown found a correlation between a feeling of worthiness and the ability to be vulnerable. Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging know they are worthy. Those who know their worth are free to be vulnerable with who they really are. Vulnerability is what allows us a connection with other people in a real way. Connection is a result of authenticity: being willing to let go of who we think we should be in order to be who we really are. So, the thing that keeps us out of connection with others is the fear that we are not worthy of connection.  See the cycle? 

The idea is to let ourselves be seen. To love with our whole hearts, even though there is no guarantee. A willingness to tell our stories. Brown shared that courage has its root word in Latin, meaning to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. It means the courage to be imperfect. In Brown's words, believing that what makes us vulnerable, makes us beautiful. 

I don't know if Brown is a follower of Jesus or not. But, her research confirms how the Gospel changes everything. Because Jesus died on the cross for me, I can know my true worth. I can know that I was worth giving up his throne, living a sinless life in a terribly broken world, and dying a horrendous and excruciating death by crucifiction. I can know I belong to Jesus and that He sees me as righteous. My worth is not found in my library fines, my messy house, my forgetfulness or my impatience. I am no longer defined by my past or present sin or my flaws. I'm also not defined by my career (or lack thereof), my marriage, my friendships or my parenting. 

I am free to be defined solely by my relationship with Jesus. When I'm defined in that way, I'm safe. I'm hidden in the shadow of his wings. My life has been hidden away with Jesus. With my life hidden safe in Jesus, I'm free to be vulnerable. I'm free to admit my flaws and my sin rather than covering them up with a pretty facade. And in doing that, I discover that those "ugly" places are often what bring true beauty. They demonstrate the places that God is strong in my weakness. 

Therefore, vulnerability seems to be the key to becoming secure.The apostle John said "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7). To be in the light requires vulnerability, bringing our hurt, pain and sin into the light where it can be seen by the Lord  and others. For some of us, at first, being vulnerable takes stepping out in faith and testing the water to see what happens when we walk in the light. 

Sometimes vulnerability is uncomfortable and unnatural at first. It might even be scary and painful. This past week, I have felt like my blood and guts were all over the floor as I was sharing with two dear friends about some hurt I realized I had held on to for almost 20 years! Last weekend, at a church women's breakfast I had a nagging fear that my friends don't really like me. What in the world? Where did that come from? 

Driving home from breakfast, the Lord brought to mind three instances in high school and college where I felt betrayed by girls who I thought were good friends. Girls who had schemed against me, girls who just didn't like me, girls who turned on me, girls who said they were my friend and then told others that they didn't really like me. Ugh. I had never shared with anyone about those hurts. It hit me I had been afraid that if I shared with new friends about those old hurts, they would see me as "damaged" or that they would wonder if there really was something "wrong" with me.  So, I had stuffed all of that. And, without really "thinking" about it, I had lived with a tape of thoughts in the back of my head which said over and over again that I couldn't trust that anyone really liked me. And, that no one really likes me. 

Last Saturday, I found myself in tears on the phone to a good friend laying all of this out. God is SO good. He brought me to a place where I knew more of my worth IN HIM so that I was more okay with vulnerability before He brought these things up for me. Before He refined me in this area, He first made me willing to talk and share and open up to friends. 

Praise Jesus!!! What had been hidden for so long in my heart was brought into the light. The lies that I had believed about my worth, or lack there of, were exposed. And, I grew in true fellowship with the girls I shared with, and I grew in fellowship with the Lord. Just like He promised would happen in 1 John 1. And, I found myself free. Free from the lies I had believed. Free to talk about it. Free to write about it here on the interwebs for all of you to read. 

There is a song by Kendall Payne, and the lyrics are below. It beautifully lays out life with Jesus and it just keeps speaking to my heart as the Lord is rooting out insecurities in my life. In particular the last stanza. It is Sometimes the Lord cuts deep to set us free. But, if you trust him and let Him open you up to vulnerability, He is so good to keep His promises.

Don't stop your crying on my account

A frightening lion, no doubt
He's not safe, no he's not safe
Are you tempted now to run away?
The King above all Kings is coming down
But He won't say the words you wish that he would
Oh, he don't do the deeds you know that He could
He won't think the thoughts you think He should
But He is good, He is good
I know you're thirsty, the water is free
But I should warn you, it costs everything
Well, He's not fair, no He's not fair
When He fixes what's beyond repair
And graces everyone that don't deserve
No one knows Him whom eyes never seen
No, I don't know Him but He knows me
He knows me, He knows me
Lay down your layers, shed off your skin
But without His incision, you can't enter in
He cuts deep, yeah He cuts deep
When the risk is great and the talk is cheap
But never leaves a wounded one behind

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Insecurity . . .

Ugh. This is a post that I am not necessarily excited to post. It is bare bones, raw and real. There are a lot of not-so-easy things that I have been willing to admit to you, my real-life friends and interweb friends. But, this one... this one is one of the hardest. This little blogpost has been sitting here almost finished for awhile now. And at the prompting of a dear friend today, I'm (finally) hitting the "publish" button.

Deep breath . . . here goes nothing . . .

I struggle with insecurity. In otherwords, I'm insecure.

That is a scary thing to type: I'm insecure. Shhhhh . . . It is a dirty word in today's society, one that we don't want to mention except for maybe in a whisper. To our closest friends. Every fiber of my being screams at me, "don't admit it! don't let anyone know!" I want you to think I'm confident, sure of myself and secure in who I am. What are you going to think of me if you know I'm insecure? Really, ladies . . . Who wants to say those words out loud: I.Am.Insecure.?

[Ironically, it is my insecurity that has prevented me from putting these words out into cyberspace earlier. Partially because, sometimes, I care too much about what you (whoever you are) think of me. And, ugh, I don't want anyone to know I'm insecure. But, I also don't want you to think that everything I do comes from my insecurity. Not everything I do is rooted in that part of me!]

I know the adage - that I need find my security in Jesus. The "answer" to fixing insecurity. And this is where some of the shame sets in. Christian women's books say it in a hundred different ways: Be secure in Jesus. My head hears those words. My heart hears them too. Thankfully I can give praise to Jesus that He has me as a work-in-progress, slowly giving me more and more true security in Him - the only security that is really secure. Sometimes, though, I get stuck. I struggle with how to get there on a practical level? How do I go from insecure to secure in Jesus? Why can't I just BE secure in Jesus with the flip of a switch?

My insecurity sneaks up on me. Sometimes it is almost nonexistent. Other times it is stifling. For a long time, I didn't know what it was. I remember seeing Beth Moore's book, So Long Insecurity, on a bookstore shelf. And I thought, what is that? Insecurity? But it shows up. It's one of those "you'll know it when you see it" kind of things. In retrospect, it took root when I was really young. And then showed up during my super awkward middle school years. I felt it with the sting of high school girls' cruelty. And it evolves. When the scale doesn't say the exact number I wish it did. When other moms get together to do something that I was a part of one year, but only found out about through photos on Facebook the next. When I walk into a group of (public school) moms who are utterly adorable. When my marriage fell apart. When people close to me question my life choices and my motives. And, I wonder if there is something wrong with who I am. Am I flawed? Is there something in my core that is just not up to par?

So, I have searched for security. It has evolved with me as I have grown up. I have looked for security everywhere and in everything. In leadership at Bible study. In my education. In food. And then, ironically, in a number on the scale. In being in the right sorority. In law school, in my grades. In relationships. In my career. In skinny jeans and boots. In hair color and the right make-up. Being the perfect wife. Searching Christian women's books for a formula on how I "should" live as a wife and mom. In having well-behaved children. In friendships. In my marriage. In homeschool. Searching for the right path that will fit like a key unlocking the door to finally just being secure in who I am.

Talking with a good friend last week, she described it as manifesting itself in being like a chameleon. Such a perfect description. Finding myself changing, sometimes a little and sometimes more than I'd like to admit, in order to "fit in." Wanting you to like me. Wanting to be validated in who I am and what I'm doing.

Wasn't this supposed to be left behind with the angst of teenage-dom? By 35, shouldn't I be comfortable in my skin?

But I'm not. And, I'm beginning to realize that a lot of other women aren't either. Providentially, I've had several similar conversations in the last few weeks with other women. Women who are beautiful and smart and seem to have it all together. Women you'd never pick out of a crowd as women who feel less than secure. But, we've dared to admit to one another that we are ... wait for it ... insecure. That it has a hold on us. It can strangle the life out of us. It steals our joy. It steals our true selves. It steals what Jesus wants for us. Just when we think we have it under control, it pops up again when we least expect it.

So I'm starting the conversation with you, friends. Right here, right now. Out in the open, in a public way. Putting myself out there because I know I'm not the only one. I can't be. Nothing new under the sun, right? And I've learned that identifying stuff in my heart, and dealing with it, and being honest with others about it is good and healing and builds friendships and community and tears down shame. So, there it is. Take it or leave it. But, my door is open, ladies.