Surrendering my Insecurities
Throughout my middle school and high school years, I became enslaved to multiple forms of comparison. Some of the most prominent forms of comparison I found myself giving into were in appearance, talents, and faith. This constant act of comparison damaged many of my friendships because often times, my friends were the ones I compared myself to the most. I was always trying to show the people around me that I was better than them so supposedly I would have some sense of security and worth. But that was not what happened. Since my goal was to be perfect and flawless, I began to dwell on each fault I found, becoming more insecure each day. The biggest thing I struggled with was the way I looked. I told myself I was too pale, so I went to the tanning salon only to discover that I actually only burn and will never really be tan. I told myself I embraced my height, but in reality, I was too self-conscious to wear heels around boys. When my friends joked about how tall I was, how big my hands were, or the size of my feet, I laughed along with them to hide how much it affected me, how much it actually hurt. This foundation of insecurity in my life led me towards comparison and hate instead of compassion and love. I was constantly attempting to measure up to those I envied and I found myself judging others I thought I was superior to in order to validate myself. However, the momentary assurance I was given from judging my sisters never lasted long and the boost in confidence and pride only left me feeling guilty. During this time, I had become so selfish. All I seemed to care about were materialistic things and my status at school. That egotistic mindset consumed me and continued to separate me from the Lord.
I became the person who let go of friends I didn't think were 'cool' enough and went to parties to show others I was popular. During the fall of my senior year, I actually believed getting on homecoming court and beating out the girls I had always been so jealous of was satisfying. Even as recent as last spring break, I went to Cancun, Mexico to party and drink with the popular group of girls at my high school that I wasn't even really friends with. And in all honesty, I don't think they wanted me there, they only invited me to be nice and because they felt bad. On that trip, I felt so unwanted and unneeded. I had bought all of the expensive things that were in style and did everything that was considered cool, so why was I not being accepted? Why didn't they love or appreciate me?
What I soon discovered about myself after that trip was that I was so hesitant to let in loving, kind people because I was scared they'd see how broken I was and turn away. I found that while preparing for the Cancun trip, I had neglected previous friendships because I was seeking a life of popularity and pride with girls that didn't actually care for me. I took my REAL relationships for granted as I strived to be perfect and feel wanted.
One of my closest friends in high school became one of the first people I truly let in and revealed my insecurities to. He was the first to call me out about the things I was spending my time doing and to ask what I was looking for in all of it. I was so caught off guard when he asked and that I told him the truth is, I didn't even know. I guess I was searching for validation that I was good enough because I had let my insecurities consume me and trick me into thinking I wasn't. I desired to be aware of and analyze all of my faults so it’d be easier to hide them from everyone... including God. I didn't wish to reveal my damaged self to the Lord because I wanted to be worthy of His love, I wanted to deserve it. But the truth is, I will never be worthy of the unconditional love that the Lord gives me.
After I had given up the meaningless things I had indulged in and truly let myself be loved by God, I found that I didn't have to continually change who I was in attempt to fit some nonexistent mold I created in my head. I realized that God created me to be perfectly imperfect and He uses the presence of our imperfections as a means to grow closer to us. Each time we surrender our faults and insecurities to the Lord, we're trusting Him with our vulnerability and brokenness. Once I stopped seeking the prideful life I had been so consumed with before, I finally felt the Lord's unconditional love. He was waiting for me to turn to Him completely, to leave nothing hidden or untouchable. I discovered for myself that the Lord is so patient. He waits until we're ready to accept Him and shares His love with us no matter what kind of person we were before.
There's always some area in our lives that we want to remain the same, something we don't wish to give to God because we find happiness through it and don’t want that to change. However, once I removed myself from a life of partying and greed and turned towards relationships that encouraged me, I realized just how much comparison was running my life and how unfulfilling it actually was. I was striving for popularity rather than holiness. I was living a life where I remained unsatisfied so I kept up the act in hope that when I owned more clothes, when more people liked me, I would truly feel content. What I actually found was that I only felt fulfilled when I put those things aside and genuinely gave my life to the Lord. I found such freedom in acknowledging I was imperfect and was relieved to no longer feel the need to strive for the things that constantly kept God at arm's length. When I stopped caring so much about what others thought of me and started caring more about my relationship with the Lord, I rediscovered some of the real, meaningful relationships that had been put on the back burner. I also found new ones that were built upon a foundation of our mutual love for Christ and continue to be a source of encouragement and love each day.
Last summer, I felt the Lord calling me on through a talk I heard (the speaker has written for Lovely Commission before, you can read about the talk I heard here). She spoke about comparison and how to turn judgment and jealously into gratitude and encouragement. It was then that I realized how the evil one really does target our relationships with our sisters and tempts us to compare ourselves to them. After that talk, I recognized that I wasn’t just damaging my friendships and instilling in myself a mindset of competition, but I had actually been making it easy for the evil one to use me. I decided then that I wouldn’t allow myself to be an easy target. I chose to be confident in the Lord’s purpose and plan for my life, reject anything that led me towards comparison, and acknowledge that the Lord intentionally created me to be a beautiful daughter of His.
I don't wish to hide my past anymore like I did with so many of the insecurities I was ashamed of. Now, I strive to be vulnerable and truthful with others so that my relationships may be sincere and genuine. I know my journey to a life with no trace of comparison is long and not near completion. However, I am confident that God has been and will continue to stand with me through this. The Lord's unconditional love CAN give me fulfillment if I LET Him love me. Each day, I must trust that the Lord gave me each of my imperfections for a reason, even if I don't know what that reason is. I must constantly surrender my insecurities to Him and allow Him to help me overcome the faults I am able to grow out of and be content with what I can't. Now, I find validation in the truth that I am made complete with God's love and as I continue to give my life to Him, I will find freedom from the act of comparison that I once was so enslaved to.
Emily Stanewich is a student at Michigan State University studying Urban and Regional Planning with a focus on city revitalization. She became involved with Kairos and University Christian Outreach in Lansing during her senior year of high school and is currently serving as an intern at the Kairos North America Headquarters. Among other things, Emily loves green tea ice cream, Jane Austen books, peonies and classical music. She also enjoys practicing calligraphy, watching HGTV, going on hikes, making herself to-do lists and studying revitalization efforts in Detroit, MI. Emily desires to reflect God’s love in each encounter she has and to continue on her journey of discovering her true identity in the Lord.