D-mail for the week of February 10, 2011
Scripture
: “The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord grants His people security.” Psalm 29:11
“She is clothed with strength and dignity.” Proverbs 31:
“Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”
Hebrews 10: 35-36

SECURE WOMEN. ISN’T THAT AN OXYMORON?

“It doesn’t have to be”, says Beth Moore, author of the book, So Long, Insecurity. Of course, women throughout time have wrestled with insecurities. But in the last few decades the insecurities of women have gone viral in our culture. The women’s movement sought to erase the insecurities women felt in relationships with men, and in that area, it’s been reasonably successful. However, it seems to me that now there has been an exponential growth of insecurity between women. Women are supposed to support one another, but it seems that nobody’ clapping, and everybody is a competitor. That is not to say that many of us don’t have secure, genuine, long term friendships, girlfriends who are among out greatest treasures in life. Most of us realize though, that intimidation in various arenas can suffocate the life out of any of these friendships. It also turns potential friends into competitors. It’s time we girls help each other out.

So what insecurities am I talking about? How about irrational jealousies, obsession with what people think, constant comparisons with other women’s personalities, talents, bodies, financial situations, spirituality, mothering ability, etc.? In her book, Beth Moore shares the results of a survey that she sent to over 100 men on the subject of insecurity among women. She says, “The guys who participated in our survey were at no loss for words when it came to describing women’s insecurities, though their appraisals included far more than critiques. The majority spoke with affirmation and respect toward women, and many owned significant responsibility and regret for fueling the fire of female insecurity.” One survey response said,
We as men have failed to assure women that they are God’s most beautiful creation. A woman’s insecurities could be drastically reduced if men would love like Jesus did.
Overwhelmingly, however, survey participants noticed that women seemed most insecure in the area of appearance. They wished that we women weren’t so self-conscious about our appearance. One guy wrote,
Most obvious is when women are around women; they try to size each other up and look for reasons to not get along. They seem easily intimidated, whether by physical beauty, character status, or whatever makes them feel that the other woman has more going for her, and a barrier goes up. Another wrote,
Insecure women ask a lot of “Am I?” questions, either directly or indirectly: Am I beautiful? Am I loved? Am I a good mom?

Let’s face it. It’s all about ego, that sin as old as mankind called PRIDE. We are all intimidated from time to time because people and situations nick our pride. We compare ourselves with the photos of celebrities with their perfect figures and perfect skin and make-up, forgetting that they are all made up by beauty experts and the photos are all air brushed! But we cannot blame the media or our culture for all of it. Our constant propensity to compare ourselves with other women is wrecking our perceptions of ourselves and others. Isn’t it weird that most of us aren’t in a public place for five minutes before we look around at the female players in the room and judge where we rank? The worst place for me has been at college reunions (does everyone have a PhD or CEO after their name but me?) and at the beach (I cannot really enjoy myself if I am surrounded with skinny women walking about in bikinis). Don’t get me started on shopping for clothes! Now that I am a grandmother, I suddenly notice that half the stores at the mall are marketing towards the under -30 crowd. Am I destined to dress like my grandmother did in the 50s? Our culture offers us a very small window in which to feel good about ourselves. Shouldn’t we refuse that offer and instead look for a reasonable ethic to live by? This youth-obsessed movement would lose half its steam if we quit puffing breath into it.

The women’s movement has shot its wounded and we have fallen down dead too many times! If intelligence is high on our list, we will try to assess whether or not the women around us are smarter or not. Same with physical appearance, age, talent, giftedness, spirituality, and success. Our insecurity constantly leads us to draw wrong conclusions!
Beth Moore uses a math analogy to describe this.
“If security says 2+2=4, insecurity says 2+2=9. In other words, she is this = I am that = I’m a loser. Or sometimes insecurity can play out the opposite: she is this + I am that = she is a loser! ” For instance,
I tried to talk to her, but she didn’t seem interested. She hates me. Or, she’s really gorgeous. I’m ugly. Or, Look how she dresses. I have the fashion sense of a clown.
Why must we continually sip on a cocktail of ego and competition?

Fortunately, pride is easy to spot. Of course, insecurity can be the result of outside forces, such as coming from an unstable or abusive home, suffering a significant loss, or enduring a dramatic change in our lives, but ego is the most common. Thankfully, Jesus has given us a way out of sin. It’s called repentance. A clear heart and a clean path are only a confession away. When we live in Christ, we can be hurt without also being insecure. We can be disappointed without also being insecure. We can be shocked without being insecure. We can be humbled without being insecure. Beth Moore writes,
“Insecurity is more than a complex emotion. It is a lie about our God-sanctioned condition. While something may cause us to feel sad, confused, angry, or threatened, we have the power to choose whether or not it gets to assault our security… Recently someone I love shot me with a poisoned arrow aimed right for the center of my heart. Just as my soul was about to wilt like a weed, I steadied myself and remembered who I am in Christ. Then I thought these words toward that person: You don’t get to go that deep. I refuse to let your words go all the way from my ears to the core of who I am. Nope, I’m not doing it.”

We must catch ourselves in the act of unhealthy thinking and switch tracks. In Galations 5:26 we find powerful words to whisper to ourselves when we’re tempted to enter unhealthy competition with others. I especially like this verse from The Message translation:
“We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

Besides not comparing ourselves with other women, what else can we do to fight for security? We can 1) start personalizing other women. In order to view someone as a rival, we have to depersonalize her to a certain extent. If we view a potential rival as an equally broken person with real problems, pain, hopes, dreams and disappointments, we will have taken a huge step away from rivalry. To help other women in this cut-throat culture, we can 2) be sensitive not to trip another women’s insecurity switch. If you have more financial means than someone, don’t suggest you have lunch at an expensive café. Do you have a great figure, but know that your friend is very uncomfortable in her body, don’t throw a pool party. If you have the world’s greatest husband and you know your friend is on the brink of divorce, stop talking about husbands. Don’t allow others to peck at the weak one in your barnyard. As we trust God for our security, 3) we must be examples of secure women. Most women will never believe that a secure woman is a real, live possibility until they meet one, as Beth Moore says, “face to face, problem-to-problem, threat-to-threat, chase-to grace.” II Corinthians 4 says,

The God who said, `Let light shine out of darkness’, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

If you are having problems with insecurity, I challenge you to read Beth Moore’s book, So Long, Insecurity. Since I won’t be here for Valentine’s Day, let me tell you that God has a Valentine for you. He loves you with an everlasting love and in His eyes (as well as mine) you, my dear sister, are LOVELY!

PRAYER:  Lord, I pray that you will help me to believe what You have said about me rather than what others say or what the media proclaims. I pray for healing for those who have lost their security through experiences of abuse or continuous instability in their lives. Show them that You love them unconditionally and always. May we trust not in our own reliance or in flesh and blood, nor in our husbands, our health, our jobs, our families, our friends, or our bank accounts, but in You. Amen