Invisible. I walk into a group of people and feel invisible. That is one of the worst feelings in the world. But that would be better than inadequate. Sometimes I think that everyone around me is staring at me, thinking about how unusual or strange I am and how they wish I would just go away. Insecurity stinks. It really kicks us where it hurts, and it colors the way we see everyone and everything around us. Sometimes it makes us feel like we can’t breathe.
Last night I watched this random movie while getting some scheduling done, and a scene caught my undivided attention. A girl was having an anxiety attack, and a boy near her started instructing her to focus on things she could see in front of her, such as a car, bicycle, and tree. She slowly got her breathing under control. He explained to her that she was having an anxiety attack, and that basically she was experiencing a rush of terror emotions even though there is truly no present, imminent danger. By focusing on the things that were real around her, it brings her into the present reality, causing the quickened heartbeat to subside.
It’s hard to be honest with ourselves and with others when we feel insecure. This morning in our women’s Bible study, Hope Hucks led us in this discussion. Often we will manipulate conversations and people in order to somehow attain emotional security. If anything, this is a complete lack of honesty, but it is hard to admit that we have emotional needs. We lose our pride if we do. It’s totally against the norm in our society too; manipulation is how we get ahead. Asking for help is equaled to begging, so if we can somehow get what we need without looking weak, then we’ve preserved our status.
Tonight in young adults someone brought up Paul and his “thorn in the flesh” and how God said that His “strength was made perfect” in Paul’s weakness. I wonder what emotions and attempts were involved in Paul’s response to his thorn. We know he prayed that God would take it away. I wonder if it ever made Paul feel insecure, though. We know he continued with his ministry, sharing God’s message of grace. Perhaps his honesty about his shortcomings played a pivotal role in relating to the insecure world around him…perhaps that enabled God’s power to be comprehensible (or in the words of Nathan Hardin, “real”.)
The things we easily find security in such as our jobs, routines, family, income, friends and popularity are destructible. I know. It’s heartbreaking. But sometimes they just don’t last..sometimes they fail, fall through, disappear. Sometimes. It could happen anytime.
You’ve probably experienced destruction of something you thought was secure. I know I have. My “anxiety attack” was slightly delayed, but once it started, it kept going and going and going. It became my obsession. My world had completely fallen apart in my head, although life continued around me. I clambered to find stability, but everything I turned to ended up disappointing me. Dismal, I know. But honest. I couldn’t even tell my parents for over a month about what had happened b/c I was so embarrassed. My head told me if everyone knew, I would have no credibility…if they knew, they would never look at me the same. I closed my heart and choked down words for years. All because failing in their eyes would mean destruction of me.
But that’s not true.
In fact, who knows what really would have entered their minds if I had been honest from the beginning. Of course, there is still the chance that people would be rude and cruel. They are destructible and fallible. Well, so like the boy from the movie taught the girl, we gotta focus on things that are real and true and stable. For me, I am learning to turn to Scripture and recall God’s ever-present assurance. “I am with you. You can do all things through Me who gives you strength. In Me you live and move and have your being. I help you in your weaknesses. I work all things together for good to those who love Me. In all things you are more than conquerers through Me.”
The world may fall around me, and my heart may feel utter break, but God is my portion and my strength forever.