Ever been there?
We can be moving through life swimmingly with a confidence in God's love, a vibrant faith, and a healthy sense of self-worth and then, boom!, seemingly out of nowhere we're hit. Suddenly we're spiraling down into a nosedive of insecurity. One minute we felt fine, but now we feel ________ (fill in the blank: unlovable, ugly, imperfect, misunderstood, insignificant, fat, lonely, out of place, unworthy, unimportant).
Surprisingly, for many of us, it doesn't take much to prompt a plunge into insecurity. Even women who've made great strides in this area can still find themselves caught off guard by a sudden slip into a lack of self-confidence. It's a spiritual danger we must actively battle so it doesn't catch us unaware. One critical way to be on guard is to be more aware of what triggers our insecurities in the first place.
Consider these common triggers:
• Criticism: We each have areas of perceived weakness, failure, or insecurity, and there's nothing like a critique to draw them out. Like a zap of electricity, words of criticism can instantly bring insecurities to life, looming large in our thoughts and emotions.
• A focus on the physical: Our bodies are God's gift to us and an important part of life, but in our skin-saturated culture, it's all too easy to become too focused on one's appearance. A quick glance at the magazines at the check-out lane, with their airbrushed brand of beauty and proclamations of body-obsession, and appearance-related insecurities can take hold.
• Messages from childhood: Our sense of identity is shaped in childhood—and often, so are our insecurities. Messages from parents, siblings, friends, and teachers help to form our sense of what we're good at, what we're worth, what we fear, and how we relate to others. When words or events in our current life tap into those messages from childhood, it's easy to slip into old patterns of insecurity.
• Comparison: There's always someone who is seemingly prettier, more talented, smarter, or paid more than us. There's someone who seems to have a better marriage, better behaved children, more opportunities, or simply more "blessings" from God. Comparing ourselves to others triggers envy, and insecurity follows quickly on its heels.
• A desire for acceptance: We long for someone to really know us—but even our closest human relationships come up short. We long for someone to fully love us—but no one can truly meet that longing. This God-given desire is ultimately a longing for what God alone can provide. Ironically, this desire can also trigger insecurities when we place our focus on the love of other human beings rather than on the true Lover of our souls.
These factors, and many others, can quickly pull the rug out from under us, leaving us suddenly floundering in insecurity. And that insecurity can damage our relationships, our emotional health, our witness, and even our faith! Beyond simply embracing feel-good Christian messages, we need to take the danger of insecurity seriously and combat it head on by identifying the insecurity triggers in our lives, diving into Scripture, and honestly considering how we can move forward in spiritual confidence and security.
Although we cannot control how others view us or treat us, we can boldly take steps to stand tall and confident in Christ, steadfast in our sense of worth. Seek the help of God and others, and take courage as you combat insecurity head on.
And here's a good place to start: "You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you" (Isaiah 43:4).
Kelli B. Trujillo is the author of the Flourishing Faith series. You can join her in conversation at www.kellitrujillo.com or on Twitter (@kbtrujillo).