This is a guest post by Lenae, who struggled for years with feelings of insecurity, unworthiness, and fear. Her self-worth was largely determined by what others said (or did not say) about her and by society’s definition of success. As she sought to find her true identity in Jesus Christ, she was able to calm her fears, unmask her insecurities, and let go of her desire to be in control so that she could follow Him. In doing so, God led her down an unexpected path that turned out much differently, but much more beautifully, than she could have ever imagined. In her story, Lenae shares how God enabled her to move beyond feelings of unworthiness to find value in Him and His truths. As she anchored herself in His Word, she was able to break free from insecurity and emerge as the confident spiritual leader, mother, and woman that she is today.
Before I became a follower of Jesus as a teenager, I was completely driven by my own desires and vision for my life. I wanted to be successful in a very worldly way and my sense of self-worth was largely derived from others’ feedback (or lack thereof).
For years I struggled with a lot of insecurity, which was largely connected to my sense of self-worth and ultimately to a variety of fears: fear that my life wouldn’t be meaningful, that others didn’t/wouldn’t like me, and that things wouldn’t go the way I wanted them to.
Even as a small girl, I sensed there was a greater purpose for my life – something bigger than myself – but I still convinced myself that being “successful” in my life was what would prove that I was worthy of love and respect. I chose honorable things to aspire toward, but it was not until I found my identify in Jesus Christ that I was truly able to find my greater purpose and break free from my insecurities.
Over the last 16 years, as I have chosen to walk with God, He has been reshaping my heart – soothing those fears, unmasking that insecurity, and calming the anger that comes from frustration with both of those things. I have been able to find great comfort in Psalm 139. Reminding myself that He knit me together in my mother’s womb goes a long way in dispelling any notion that I am not worthy or lovable.
Vulnerability was also key in my process of restoration. Learning how to be honest with myself and with my husband, mentors, and friends guided me to explore the reasons behind my brokenness and illuminate God’s truth in those areas. Being truly vulnerable is hard. It required me to take a metaphorical, ongoing look in the mirror. The great news is, I was able to see that even in the midst of my brokenness, my reflection is made in His image. I am beloved and cherished by Him. That is what keeps me anchored.
John 17 is my favorite passage in Scripture – Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane before he was arrested and crucified. It’s absolutely intimate and I love that He prays for us: the believers to come. My insecurities dim when I remember how much I am loved by Christ.
“…I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17: 20-23
Having a personal relationship with Jesus has provided both a reason for my existence and for the things I do from day to day. Rather than a life that has been shaped solely by what brings me pleasure, I now seek to grow closer to Him and love others as He loves me.
My advice for someone who is struggling with insecurity and looking to find their identity in Him is to remember that Christ is God incarnate – fully God, and fully man – so He isn’t this untouchable being who has no idea what we’re going through. He lived a fully human life and resisted temptations. He was there at the dawn of the world and He chose to take on the same body that we fill and breathe the same air that we breathe. This speaks so much to my heart. It says in Genesis 1 that human beings are made in God’s image, yet this is a God – all powerful and absolutely perfect – who chose to come and be among us. So when I think about identity, I think of a God who IS love, who loves us first and foremost. I am a beloved daughter. And it is His deepest desire to draw us close as beloved children.
I mentioned earlier that one of my biggest fears was that things wouldn’t work out the way I wanted them to. I was intent on planning out every detail of my life. However, as I have learned to “let go and let God,” things have turned out much differently than I imagined! Mistakes and all, it has been so much more beautiful than what I could have ever planned out myself. An example of this is that I spent most of my high school years planning to join the military. I spent 2.5 years in the active duty Air Force before transferring to the Reserve so I could stay home with our kids as we began growing a family. I’ve wrestled with that decision throughout the years, and while I still miss the military, being home with my children has taught me lessons and refined me in ways that would not have happened had I chosen to stay in the Air Force.
That path is what eventually led me to realize that I felt a calling to ministry, which has resulted in being part of some amazing communities of believers including the church we helped to plant on Easter this year. The young Airman I was 11 years ago would have never fathomed that her 31-year-old self would become a pastor who is passionate about church planting and multiplication, and the woman I am now wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m so glad He is sovereign over all, because He’s a good, good Father.
The key message that I want to share with other women who may be struggling with insecurity is to anchor their identity in Jesus Christ. Our reason for being, for doing, for all of it, is Him. He loves us with an everlasting love, right where we are. He is faithful to sanctify us, and His intent for you – I promise – is exquisite. Walk through your days knowing, as one of my favorite songs, (“Embrace This Place” by Among Thorns) puts it, that He holds you face to face.
Second, I’d urge you not to not walk through your life alone, or behind a veil: Find people you trust who love the Lord and share in each other’s burdens. Our God is a relational God: we see this demonstrated in the Trinity, and it’s how He wants us to interact with each other. Pray without ceasing for one another, encourage each other, and support your brothers and sisters through their valleys. We’re not meant to do this alone.