I am honored to kick off a blog series with two writers I truly respect: Emily Conrad and Mary Geisen. Over the next six weeks, the three of us will take turns sharing on our series called— Chosen and Approved: Untangling Our Identities from People and Perfection. This series resonates with my heart—both because of what I’m learning about my identity and how insecurity affects it, and because I suspect others also struggle with knowing who they really are. It is my hope that this series will minister and speak life-giving truths to all who read the posts.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I’ve been a people-pleasing girl for most of my life.
I’m not proud of this.
Peer-rejection does crooked things to a young girl’s heart. It leaves her craving acceptance and approval . . . to the exclusion (and the erasure) of learning how to be herself. Who God created her to be.
Rejection implanted warped messages in my thoughts and heart. Messages that told me approval comes from acting a certain way, the way the “popular people” acted. Which often compromised who I genuinely was.
But that was okay because I was accepted, right?
Only, I never knew what one thing I might do or say that would cause me to become un-accepted.
Striving for others’ approval became a prison. The bars weren’t made of iron. They were forged by the perceptions I had of how others viewed me.
In training myself to live this way, I became a captive to insecurity. Seeking others’ approval became more important than discovering who I was created to be.
Because who I was inside was the “me” who was rejected.
It was easier to act the part of who others thought I should be. Less painful that way, too.
Being a people-pleaser didn’t yield the satisfaction I thought it would.
Even in my thirties, I aimed for acceptance. You’d think a grown woman would be further along than this, right?
I suspect everyone has some issues when it comes to understanding our identity. When we seek our identity in anything other than Jesus, we’re living from a place of insecurity.
For me it’s looked like:
- being uber-careful about what I said and didn’t say
- doing things for others with the hope of being noticed and affirmed by them
- trying to appear put together—in the ways I dressed and acted
- not sharing my honest thoughts about things said and situations I’ve faced
- being more of an observer than an engager in social situations
Insecurity has shaped the way I’ve lived life and interacted with others. I sought to please people because it gave me affirmation, and perceived acceptance.
God has been healing the layers of the rejection-wound in my heart. One pivotal conversation He and I had occurred after one disappointing morning. I was struggling with feeling insignificant.
I had a “come-to-Jesus” meeting. He asked me if He was enough for me. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Really, Lord? Of course, You are!
God: So, if I never gave you any more friendships, would I still be enough?
My second answer caught in my throat.
Me: Yes, Lord?
God: Am I enough for you?
When God asks a question this directly, you don’t just give a cavalier answer.
I knew my answer should be yes. But I’d spent over thirty years seeking acceptance from people.
I remembered His love for me. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, blood spilling down that wooden beam. The painful torture and death He endured . . . for me.
God: I love you, Jeanne. Even if everyone else in your life rejects you, I will never reject you. You are my daughter.
Those words . . .
Even if everyone else rejected me? God would still love me.
It took time to honestly embrace this truth. But knowing that God’s love for me will never change? That He loves me even when I’m ugly and insecure and unkind to those around me? This has been a huge step in moving beyond insecurity.
When we allow insecurity to determine our actions, our words, our thoughts, we can’t live an authentic life.
With “authentic” being my one word this year, God’s been teaching me that I need to choose honesty in acknowledging what I’m really thinking and feeling. I’m blogging more on this later. This kind of deep down honesty is where we begin to move beyond insecurity and into living with authenticity.
We won’t always make others happy when we’re honest. But there’s really only One person we need to worry about, and the best thing is? He’s already accepted us. He loves us, and that will never change.
What about you? What helps you live an authentic life? How have you dealt with insecurity?