My heart swelled as my sweet twenty-year-old friend sat on my couch one night after Bible study and shared her deep insecurities. As the other women gathered their purses and put on their shoes (we get kind of comfortable during Bible study), she lingered and tried her darnedest to hold back tears. I recognized the look in her eyes.
She shared how she couldn’t help but think everyone else in the room thought she was weird. She shared how she felt different and unaccepted. She shared how she almost didn’t come back to study tonight for fear that she had nothing of value to offer.
This was her perspective. The fog of insecurities and the lens of salty tears lead her to a false reality.
From my perspective, this friend of mine shared deep concerns with the group that others could relate to. Her thoughts added great value to the group and the topic at hand.
From the group’s perspective, she would be greatly missed had she not shown up tonight.
The true reality proved my friend as a beautiful young woman with interesting thoughts and a sweet heart with much to give.
I sat down on the couch and confessed that I too lived in a false reality driven by insecurities when I was her age. Even in my thirties, I still have to fight those insecurities now. All too often I replay things I said in conversation, over-analyzing and torturing myself. There are some days where I pick and prod at my body, comparing and critiquing to no productive end. Though I wish I could completely put to rest my personal insecurities, I’m glad to say that these torturous thought processes have faded. This is why I could share with my girlfriend on the couch that night and encourage her through her very real and honest feelings.
I’m learning that confidence in ourselves and who we are comes over time. These pivotal decades of our twenties and thirties bring an opportunity to explore ourselves and the interesting quirks with which God graces us. Though we carry baggage from our teenage years, this new phase in life offers the excitement of stepping into a new level of maturity and acceptance of who God made us to be. When we immerse ourselves in the Lord and focus on who He is rather than the twisting and turning journey of “finding ourselves,” true confidence and self-acceptance emerge. It is a day-by-day, minute-by-minute kind of thing. We wrap our mind around His power, His love, His greatness, His majesty and slowly our attitudes and perspective change. A sense of self-acceptance bubbles up because we know the only one whose opinion of us really matters.
A very concrete verse in Colossians helps me to refocus my confidence towards a reality that Jesus is the one my life should reflect. All too often I’ve gotten caught up in a journey of self-discovery that I’ve lost direction and focus on one journey –– knowing Christ –– that leads me to true fulfillment and assurance in life.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1-2)
Setting my heart on the Lord keeps me from falling victim to gossip.
Setting my heart on the Lord helps me to develop my character which reflects honor, dignity, peace, and kindness.
Setting my mind on the Lord frees me from obsessing over the opinions of others.
Setting my mind on the Lord gives me direction in my journey through these discovery decades of my thirties –– finding fulfillment and contentment that I am who He made me to be.
The time factor in relation to confidence has come into play as I’ve practiced this discipline of coming before the Lord with my heart and my mind set on Him first. As I’ve developed a habit of throwing out negative thoughts about myself and replacing them with that of Jesus, a sense of assurance has soaked into my heart and mind. This assurance –– this confidence –– reflects my relationship and ultimate trust that the Lord approves of me. He loves my quirks and faults. He desires for me to grow in confidence in Him rather than the flimsy offerings of the world.
I once watched Oprah interview a new age guru who wrote a book about “finding yourself.” Though this interview proved shallow, a little nugget of truth stood out to me. I’ve played this nugget over and over in my head throughout the years and God has used the phrase to bring perspective in my life: “If you truly understood how much people do not think about you, you wouldn’t worry so much about what others think.”
Let that sink in.
Everyone else is so concerned about their own stuff, they aren’t really as concerned with our stuff as we think they are! Everyone else has their own moments when they question if they add value to their group of friends. Everyone else lets their mind travel down paths of self-doubt, insecurity, and fear. Everyone else is worried about their own image they project to the world.
We often tangle up in the idea that our girlfriends or co-workers place every word we speak or magnify every blemish on our face or critique our every wardrobe choice. The reality is, those same girlfriends that we fear their opinions are tangled up, just like us, in their own web of insecurity. They simply aren’t looking at us all the time for they are inward focused themselves. This gives me a since of relief and freedom to express myself and attend coffee dates sans makeup without worry that everyone’s eyes are on me. This gives me all the more reason to set my heart and mind on the Lord every hour of every day, especially when I’m vulnerable to doubt and lack of confidence.
I hope my sweet young friend grasped this life truth I shared with her. You’ll notice that I described earlier that my heart swelled for her. It didn’t break, it didn’t melt, it swelled. She is twenty years old, with her life in front of her. I pray that she will embrace her quirks and realize that those very quirks add a special dynamic to our Bible study group. When we all bring to the table our God-given authentic personalities, a colorful conversation occurs. We learn from each other when we express our struggles and allow even our quirks to show through.