The thoughts of insecurity came flooding in; the thoughts about all the things I don’t like about myself, the thoughts about all the things I wonder if people think about me, the thoughts about all the things I wish I was better at. The thoughts of comparison quickly followed; the thoughts of wishing I looked more like _____, the thoughts of wishing I was as creative or as well-spoken or as witty as ______, the thoughts of wishing I had someone else’s opportunities. It was a rollercoaster of thoughts, full of loops and hard turns and sharp jerks to the side. All those thoughts hit me like a ton of bricks, seemingly out of nowhere.
I knew that wasn’t true, though. I knew all those thoughts sprang from a place where they had found roots somewhere in my heart. The circumstances of the social settings or the form of the picture that was taken or the conversation that took place may have been different than before, but the thoughts themselves were nothing new. I knew those thoughts very well. All the familiar thoughts, the well-known lies that I was tempted to believe, were back in full force and it was awful.
It had been a while since I had struggled this intensely and, frankly, that was one of the hardest parts. I was so discouraged by the constant barrage of thoughts, the minute by minute battle to get outside of myself, the tears that would insist on falling. I was tired of this. I was over every bit of hearing those same thoughts circle around in my head. I was weary of this path I had walked many times beforehand because I knew where it lead, I knew the emptiness of it, and I knew what was so much better.
That last phrase there is where the shift happened. It happened because of the better thing. It happened because the better thing, the better Being shed light on the roots of this all too familiar struggle and reminded me again of what truly defines me. He showed me Himself. This struggle is what He died to save me from; the struggle of being absolutely gripped by the lies of sin. It doesn’t define me anymore. The constant barrage of thoughts doesn’t have to be where I stay, the minute by minute battle has been ultimately conquered by Him, the tears can truly turn into joy when I remember what is truest about me.
God is so kind to meet us in those low places, to open our eyes to the truth that is so beautiful and so good. On one day last week when this struggle was especially painful I left my Bible open on the kitchen island all day. It was opened to the Psalm I had read that morning, Psalm 116, and the verses that I read multiple times that day were 5-7:
“Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.”
That last sentence, verse 7, was on repeat in my mind and out of my mouth that day; it was the prayer I prayed all day long. I wanted to know that rest again, the kind that rests because of what He has done, because of who He is, because of who I am in Him. He HAD dealt bountifully with me! I knew it to be fully true! Speaking those words of truth to myself, reminding myself of the evidences of His grace and goodness that truly abound in my life, began the shift of pulling my gaze off myself to something so much greater and more lovely. And then when I remembered that that greater and more lovely One made me His and that is the very definition of my worth!? That shatters every single lie that would say something different.
Trying to find my security in a picture, or a conversation, or someone else’s thoughts about me will always leave me wanting. No matter if the picture is a good one, or the joke well-timed, or the compliment is received, I will always always want more. It doesn’t satisfy and I have to keep reminding myself of this. Those insecure thoughts will return, ready to fight another day, but their roots in my heart have loosened some more, with healthier ones taking their place.
C.J. Mahaney writes, “Humility isn’t thinking less of ourselves, but thinking about ourselves less.” As I’m sitting here typing this my AK is listening to a song and the line that just played was, “Lift your eyes! We are His radiant bride!” That’s a rather beautiful picture, and that’s what we are. We are prized and treasured by our God. He doesn’t call us to think less of the very ones He created to be His clearest imitators, but He calls us to do that very thing: to imitate Him. To make much of Him and less of ourselves. I want that to be the truest thing about me.