I teach a couple of different Bible studies at church. I’m generally comfortable with my teaching style and how I do things. Sometimes a study doesn’t scratch somebody’s itch, and they stop coming. Or they have a schedule conflict and take a break for a while. Things happen. I get that. Every time somebody stops coming, though, there’s that little whisper of insecurity in the back of my mind.
You aren’t a good teacher.
You should be more knowledgeable.
You should be more/less [fill in the blank].
You’re just not good enough.
This past Sunday, as I was taking sign-ups for a new Bible study starting in August, someone stopped by me and asked, “Can I be honest?”
Every single one of those self-depreciating thoughts raced through my mind as I encouraged the woman in question – someone I respect – to say what was on her mind.
And you know what?
The Bible study is too early in the morning for her. She just can’t get up and get going in time to be there for it.
I didn’t even realize how my own insecurities had gotten ahold of me until she said that, and the weight of those insecurities lifted from my shoulders.
What a relief!
I’m not a person who invests a lot of time in self-doubt. I know who I am. I know my strengths and weaknesses pretty well, and while I continue to work on those weaknesses, I don’t feel crippled by them. Growth is a process, and I’m comfortable with that process.
Every now and then, though, the knowledge of those weaknesses morphs into something different, something insidious that weaves its way into the very fabric of who I am. Insecurity.
We all have different reading preferences, and that’s okay. It takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round. One of my preferences, though, is strong characters. They can be flawed. They can be broken. They can be hurting. They can even be angry. I don’t, however, enjoy reading characters that swim in and never overcome insecurity. That’s my personal preference. It’s completely okay if you feel differently about it.
Hm. Maybe I should clarify that a bit. I really am okay with characters who battle insecurity as part of their story arc. I just want to see them overcome that insecurity in Christ – or at least make real progress toward overcoming it – by the end of the book. I don’t want to finish a book and feel like the hero or heroine is still drowning in self-doubt.
As I pondered my own recent dance with insecurity, it forced me to think about why I don’t enjoy reading insecure characters. I came to a few conclusions. I’m still working this out in my mind, though, so these conclusions are a little rough around the edges.
Conclusion #1: A little insecurity here and there is normal, but when we’re swamped with insecurity, it’s probably because we’re spending too much time thinking about ourselves and not enough time reflecting on who God is and who we are in Christ. Spending all that time thinking about ourselves (even when it’s in a negative light) is a form of selfishness and not the dying-to-self we’re called to in Scripture.
Conclusion #2: When we care overly much about people’s opinions of us, it leads to self-doubt and insecurity. We have a fear that someone will think poorly of us, and that fear can both shape and motivate our words and actions. In contrast, when we care primarily about God’s opinion of us, we seek and rest in Him, and we become less obsessed with other people’s opinions.
Conclusion #3: Knowing who we are in Christ is vital to having a peaceful life. Our circumstances will ebb and flow. Chaos of one type or another will always be in the world around us. Knowing who we are in Christ, though – finding our identity in Him and folding fast to the truth that we are His – there is peace and joy in that place. Holding fast to our identity in Christ puts to rest so many of the fears and insecurities that would otherwise plague us.
In all fairness – we will all battle insecurity. I’m not holding out for some crazy perfect ideal. I just had a bout with insecurity, and it got me to thinking, and I wanted to share those thoughts with you.
So, what do you think? Do you agree with my conclusions? Disagree? Have other conclusions you want to add?
And if you enjoy reading fiction where the characters are insecure, I’d love to know why. I’m happy to admit that I might be missing something in how I think about certain types of stories. Just because they’re not my preference doesn’t mean they don’t have value or that I can’t learn something from them. 😊