I woke up at age 30. I faced the truth about insecurities deep. I wrestled with my patterns of denial. The traits I scorned in others for years became a mere reflection of what was raging in my own heart.
Have you ever noticed that? Often what annoys us the most about others are our own behaviors, as well. Sure, there’s variances in how they unfold from a person’s heart, but the roots, oh the ugly roots, they’re often similar to our own. It’s as if we’re gardening but scared to harvest. We’re digging in the tension of what we know to be true deep, deep down and what we so desperately want to ignore.
Women and men go about their lives silently teaching us what we look like to others. And I keep digging, forgetting why I’m even in the garden.
So I rank them. I rank them to cope with the tension of my soil.
When I’m feeling insecure it looks like this:
She’s a good mom because her daughter is outgoing and confident. He’s smart because he went to graduate school right after college. He’s classy because he cooks on a Jenn Air instead of a Kenmore like me. She has taste because she buys her drawer pulls at Anthropologie.
I want to scream, “I’m working with my children and their social skills even though it doesn’t look like it. I desperately regret not going to grad school right away. I know a Jenn Air is classier than a Kenmore. I know cool girls shop for hardware at Anthropologie instead of Target. Because I KNOW all of this does it make me more valuable in your eyes even though I’m not living it?”
And when I’m feeling insecure it also looks like this:
I’m a good mom because my son just asked that adult how she was doing. I’m smart because I prefer non-fiction. I’m classy because I’m cooking with coconut oil instead of canola tonight. I have taste because I’m decorating with Anthropologie look-alikes instead of randomness.
I rank myself low. And I rank myself high. I silently ruin community along the way, and those around me don’t even know it. I can’t really rank myself without ranking others, even unintentionally. It’s so broken.
It all points back to my insecurity. And pride. They’re sort of the same thing.
We rank people’s worth in everything, don’t we?! We determine if people are in the know based upon what exercise plan they do, what type of salt they use, what brand of clothing they wear, what ministries they engage with (when did certain non-profits become trendier than others?!). The list goes on and on.
We despise Hitler for ranking people based on ethnicity. We hate how the media controls our view of beauty. We scorn society and teach our daughters to ignore its shallow lessons of worth.
But in our everyday, when did we start caring about impressing a stranger over teaching our children gently? When did academic degrees impact the fulfillment of God’s purposes for our lives? When did an oven first define our worth rather than our act of feeding hungry people? When did the ornaments of our homes become more valuable than the families living within?
I was made in God’s image, so I crave what is kind, and complex, and beautiful. But my goodness, tangible blessings and temporary pleasures don’t define me. Earthly success doesn’t define me, either.
I carry that insecurity (and pride) back to the Cross and throw it all in It’s shadow.
“Who has the authority to condemn?
Jesus the Anointed… died, but more importantly, conquered death… So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God’s Anointed? … The answer is, absolutely nothing… For I have every confidence that nothing—not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing—can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 34-39
Yes, I have confidence that nothing will separate me from the love of Christ — my broken worldview, the way I limp along in community, the lies Satan whispers through modern culture, the way others rank me, my own crooked and insecure heart — nothing will separate me from the love of Christ and the identity His work on the Cross gives me.
I have to stop living to impress those I’ll never meet. I must stop trying to evoke admiration from those I don’t even feel safe with.
I’m still digging, and the Light is wooing growth from the dark, dark soil. It’s like when you hold in shame for years and then your secret comes spilling out to a friend. I need to do this more often. We were created to live in community. I fight it and fight it, and yet when I give in, I’m the one that feels victory.
I’m the one who harvests without fear.