Overcoming Insecurity: Ignore or Invest? Part Two

Introduction

In Part One of, “Overcoming Insecurity,” insecurity was defined as, “feeling unsafe or in danger.” Overcome was defined as, “to be subdued, defeated, or conquered.”

Being overcome with insecurity is being subdued/defeated by feelings of fear or danger. 

The Question

I closed part one with this question,

“If feeling insecure is a learned behavior then can it be unlearned?”

Ignoring the insecurity, or masking it, or living in denial are ineffective strategies.

Insecurity can be defeated, or at least minimized, by learning from new experiences and  processing new insights. Also, it may be that you need to consult a Doctor or pursue professional levels of help. 

As for this blog, I offer these thoughts.

Suggestions

  1. Write It Down

I have found journaling helpful. Write about your insecurity. What is it you fear? What is it you are looking over your shoulder to see? Be honest and specific. By identifying what overwhelms you, you’ve taken a healthy step in coping with it. So, write it down.

2.  Think It Through

Think through the fear and sense of doom, all the way to the end. What happens if it happens? Could it happen? Is it likely? Often, what scares us most are the things that are most unlikely to happen.

An example: During Hurricane Harvey’s five days of rain my insecurity surged with a foreboding of our house flooding. But our house didn’t flood, not even close. Throughout the storm there was no reason to believe that it would. But I was still afraid, and the fear came from insecurity. But it helped when I finally owned up to the idea that if it did flood then we would deal with it. We would be okay. It would be a huge mess and a giant hassle, but we would be all right. Instead of being overwhelmed with dread and fear I arrived at a calmer place. So, think it through.

3. Provide Faith Messages

Our self talk when insecurity hits us becomes really important. Write about that too. What messages do you give yourself? Are they negative? Full of dread and fear? Are they messages that reflect the worst possible outcome? Or are they positive and strong, full of faithful optimism? Are they messages of trust in God? Giving ourselves a steady stream of healthy messages will help diminish the fear and doom. So, give yourself some good reinforcement. 

The Word

Fine strength and comfort from these verses:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition… present your requests to God ….the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he will lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you.”                                                                I Peter 5:6-7

In Closing

The Apostle Paul said,

“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”                                            Romans 12:21 (NLT)  

Unsubstantiated, irrational fear comes from an evil place, for God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear. Yes, when danger is real, when we are threatened, then we act accordingly. But fear generated from insecurity doesn’t have to own us.

happy woman

We can overcome!

God Bless You

Overcoming Insecurity: Ignore or Invest?

Overcoming Insecurity, Part 1

Introduction

What is insecurity? What is it to overcome it? Let’s define the terms.

Insecurity:Subject to fear or the fear of harm, feeling unsafe”

Overcome: “To be subdued, defeated, and conquered / to subdue, defeat, and conquer” 

To be overcome with insecurity is to be subdued by feeling unsafe and afraid.

The Insecure Child

When children are overcome with insecurity they:

  1. are afraid of something new
  2. believe something is going to hurt them 
  3. struggle to believe that they are good enough
  4. are overly alarmed by things that go “bump” in the night
  5. feel unsafe when they are unloved, neglected, or unprotected  

A child overcome with insecurity will often have a defeatist attitude and may exhibit the behaviors of a conquered person. They fear what’s new and what’s next. 

scared cute little girl under the blanket in her bed

The Insecure Adult 

When adults are overcome by insecurity they:

  1. are afraid to try new things or meet new people
  2. have a foreboding sense that something bad is about to happen
  3. struggle with body image and their appearance 
  4. believe that others judge them and find them lacking
  5. feel unsafe when they are unloved, neglected, or unprotected 

An adult overcome with insecurity will often have a defeatist attitude and may exhibit the behaviors of a conquered person. They fear rejection or abandonment.

worried woman

An Illustration

I was a shy child, but I wasn’t born shy, I learned it from painful experiences. In time I learned to squirm when introduced as the new kid in class or participating in something different. To some extent, the insecurity I had as a child stayed with me as an adult. There are moments when I still feel overwhelmed by fear, or by the sense of something bad about to happen.

Oddly, I’m no longer shy, the shyness drained off a long time ago. But the memories and feelings of fear dug in deep, rooted within my soul. Have I been overcome by insecurity? 

Growing and Overcoming 

The options? Well, I can ignore my insecurity. Thats what we do, we put it in a jar and  tighten the lid. Does it work? Or maybe we pretend and deny. Sometimes we learn to excel at something to camouflage our true selves. It’s painful being overcome by insecurity. 

However, if I learned to be insecure by allowing fear to subdue me, can I learn not to be? Rather than ignore it maybe I can invest in something that helps me. Can I conquer my insecurity rather than be conquered by it? 

In Closing

This is part one of Overcoming Insecurity. Stay tuned for part two on Wednesday morning. I will answer the above question with practical suggestions, warm encouragement, and something valuable from the Word of God. 

Hang in there. 

Conquer, Subdue & Defeat

The Overcomer

Part One

Introduction

The word, “overcome” is typically used in one of two ways:

  1. Overcome: something that defeated us
  2. Overcome: something we defeated

Something that overcomes is a force that subdues and conquers us. To be an overcomer is to subdue and conquer that force. Either we overcome something or it overcomes us. 

Some Examples

  1. Nicotine
  2. Depression
  3. Over eating
  4. Pornography
  5. Anger

Those are only a few of the many forces that battle with us and that we battle against. If we win then we have overcome. But if we lose …? 

Overcoming can look different for everyone. I know two men who were heavy smokers and decided to kick the habit. One of them threw his cigarets into the trash and never smoked again. The other threw his pack into the trash but later dug them out. He struggled for years. He quit over and over. Was he an overcomer? 

A Few Verses

The apostle John frequently used the word overcome, some examples:

I John 2;13, “…and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”

I John 4:4, “You… have overcome, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

To Close

For the next few weeks my blog will address the topic of overcoming. I intend to post Monday and Wednesday mornings. Each blog will be purposed to help you overcome the forces fighting against you. I will use scripture, practical suggestions and encouragement. 

Stay tuned…

How Are You Really?

Men Are Tough

At least they are up to a point. I’ve seen men injured and yet soldier on with true grit to finish the game, I did it in High School. However, in other aspects of life, men are not so much for toughness.

OU RED WHITE SPRING GAME
Not me or the High School game I was injured in. But close, really very close.

A True Gentleman?

If we are hurting our conditioning trains us to not speak of it, especially if its emotional pain. Being a gentleman calls us to never cause discomfort to another. So, a gentleman  doesn’t seek sympathy. Unless of course we are sick or have a cold, then we call for Mama.  

Yesterday at Church

Sunday morning I wasn’t feeling well. I felt ill and was down emotionally due to some deaths/funerals I was facing, and some other things. But we preachers are a tough bunch. We play hurt. We tighten our belts and do our jobs. I didn’t know if anyone could tell, but I was hiding how I was feeling and pretending to be fine.

Besides, there’s nothing worse than a whiny preacher. 

But a friend saw beneath the facade and asked how I was doing. The asking was laced with concern. So, I said that I wasn’t doing well and explained why.  My friend offered encouragement and useful advice and then said this,

“Thank you for telling me, for telling the truth about how you are really doing.” 

That stopped me in my tracks, kept me stuck to the ground.

“Thank you for telling me the truth.”

In that moment I wondered how many times through the decades of Sunday mornings I’ve walked into church masking my struggles and heartaches.

I know

I’m compensated for serving the people and responsible for an uplifting service and a decently encouraging message. Everyone employed has to deliver when they are paid to deliver. Even preachers. 

295063_3076114632888_2017250877_n
Even at Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall preachers have to deliver.

To Close

Frankly it was liberating to tell a friend at a Sunday service how I was doing. And it may be a stretch to believe, but I’m rarely asked that question. It’s my job to ask how everyone else is doing. 

I get it. 

But I’m doing better this morning, thank you. 

Twenty-Eight Days?

I’ve heard that if you do something every day for 28 days it becomes a habit. I’m not sure if that’s true, but its true I’ve heard it. But it sounds reasonable. Would the reverse be true? If you stop doing something for 28 days it breaks the habit? 

So, what behavior would you like to become a habit? A few thoughts:

  • Exercise 
  • Reading books 
  • Doing unlikable chores
  • Pulling weeds/gardening 15 minutes a day
  • Making the bed (assumes you aren’t already making it) 

A few thoughts on habits to break:

  • Leaving wet towels on the bathroom floor
  • Yelling at drivers during morning/evening commute
  • Irritating other drivers during morning/evening commute 
  • Falling asleep during meetings at work 
  • Playing mean practical jokes on the guy who falls asleep during meetings

That all sounds wise and useful.

Something Better

Yesterday morning I was in a parenting class with 48 parents of preschoolers. The teacher was encouraging the parents to take advantage of the time they already spend with their kids to teach them about God. She was emphasizing the value of doing these things over time, that children learn best by doing something over and over again.

For Instance

  • Play CD’s of music from their bible classes at church.
  • At bath time, get a boat and a few plastic figures and teach Noah’s Ark.
  • Cuddle with them and assure them you and God love them.
  • At bed time pray for them and with them and for their friends.
  • Read bible stories every night.

You get the idea. 

Then one of the moms shared a story. Whenever she goes somewhere with her preschooler she points out the sun and the sky, saying  how beautiful they are and that God made them. One morning they were headed someplace and mentioned that the sunrise was beautiful. Then she heard her daughter in the back seat begin praying and thanking God for the sun. It was a moment. 

Twenty-Eight Days 

There is great value in doing important things every day. 

  • Finding time to pray
  • Reflecting on God’s Word 
  • Being kind to someone 
  • Honoring your commitments
  • Teaching a child the value of knowing God

Mother and daughter praying in bed

To Close

Be awesome today. Do something truly worthwhile. Love and care for your children. Nobody has as much potential for shaping your child’s heart than you.

Shape it well. 

 

Fear or Faith, Its Up To Me

Some of My Childhood Fears

  1. The neighbor’s big barking dog
  2. Something under the bed at night
  3. Being the new kid in class
  4. Going to the blackboard to do math problems
  5. Snakes

Kids have fears. I don’t think its genetic, I think it’s taught and I was taught to fear snakes. “The only good snake is a dead snake,” my Dad would say. That stuck with me. 

Some of My Adult Fears

  1. Failing in my ministry
  2. Fatal illnesses 
  3. Something happening to my kids
  4. Becoming ineffective and useless 
  5. That in the end I wasn’t good enough 

My fears were learned over a lifetime and rooted in the core of self-esteem issues.

Often our fears are based on imaginary problems resulting in unreasonable anxiety.  

An Example

Years ago, I was in my office at the church when I got a call from an elder of a very large church in Nashville. They were searching for a new Senior Minister and said I was at the top of a very short list. He told me about the opportunity and asked If I would like to bring my family for a visit. I said, “No.”

I didn’t think about it or ask for a day or two to get back to him, I just said no. 

Why?

Because I was afraid. I was afraid of the idea of leading a really big church. The fear was based in inadequacy, that I wasn’t good enough, not possessing the requisite skills. I was intimidated, flattered, by intimidated. We didn’t visit. 

Over the years I’ve wondered if that was a mistake, a missed opportunity, the shutting of a door that the Lord had opened.

The Boat Story

Remember Simon Peter asking Jesus if he could go out to him to have him on the water? Jesus said yes and out of the boat he went, walking on the water. But began to sink. He saw the stormy winds causing the big waves and he doubted. The word doubt means to lose confidence. In that moment, Peter lost confidence in Jesus. 

peter-walking-on-water

Losing confidence was about looking at things that cause fear. Peter could have walked the whole Sea of Galilee if he had kept his eyes on Jesus.

To Close

Let’s be encouraged to keep our eyes on Jesus. Trust requires us to stay focused on his word and his power. It’s a faith experience to walk with Jesus in confidence. It’s a fear experience to give our attention to anything else. 

Shalom

Gathering a Circle

My cousins and I were once asked to heard some chickens. It was a joke on us.

Chickens won’t heard. 

boy and chickens
Not me or the chickens I chased, but close, really very close.

Other Animals Difficult to Heard

  • lizards
  • goats
  • badgers
  • humming birds
  • small children  . 

Last Night

We tried something different. We asked our Life Groups to come to the building. They didn’t all come, but 16 groups did and about 250 people gathered. We had to set up more tables and chairs. We talked and visited and enjoyed seeing everyone. There was a fun table game for everyone to do.

FullSizeRender   FullSizeRender[3]

Then we stood and lined the four walls of the gym. We were crowded and people stood shoulder to shoulder and two and three deep. We sang a few songs, had a prayer, and then left to have our Life Group meetings in classrooms. It was organized for two groups to meet together, an older and a younger, it was inner-generational. The teens, middle schoolers and children had their own events. 

It was simply marvelous. 

FullSizeRender[6]   FullSizeRender[4]

The Connection

People got acquainted that had never met. We each shared a few thoughts about ourselves. We laughed a lot and realized how much we all had in common, from people in their 30’s to people in their 80’s. 

We called the event, “The Circle.” 

Jesus had circles. His apostles were a circle of followers. Among them were a smaller circle of three: Peter, James and John. He also had a close circle of friends: Lazarus, Martha and Mary, a family of a brother and two sisters. Jesus often stayed in their home. 

To close

Crowds can be unruly. Goats will find their own way. Kids run and play. Getting any group of people to cooperate can be challenging. 

But last night, we had the Circle and then had smaller circles. It was tremendous. I enjoyed people of all ages and could easily see Jesus in their lives.

It wasn’t like the chickens at all!

Shalom

Even His Clothes

Labor Day

Sure, why not? Let’s have a national day of non-labor.

 Labor Day was created by the labor movement and inaugurated as a federal holiday in 1894. For a 124 years we’ve recognized the first Monday in September as Labor Day. Congratulations, you don’t have to go to work.

The Timing

I find the timing interesting. After three months of Americans taking time off for vacations, trips, and get aways, we enter September with a day off of work. Banks are closed, schools are closed (having just started). Federal offices are closed, no mail.  

You know who isn’t closed today:

  • Starbucks
  • Home Depot & Lowe’s
  • Denny’s 

So it isn’t all bad. Even on Labor Day you can get a cup of coffee, a Grand Slam breakfast, and whatever you need for home care and repair, so labor on. 

My Labor

I’ve labored, here’s a partial list:

  • 8th grade I did yard care for my Bible Class teacher.
  • 9th grade I used a hoe to weed crop fields.
  • 10th grade I worked on two different farms and a hog farm. 
  • 11th grade I put up hay bales, all summer long.
  • 12th grade I worked after school at the Skelly Gas Station out on the hi-way.

I earned $1.00 an hour for weeding fields. Farm work got $1.25 an hour. The Skelly Station paid a $1.50 an hour, It was skilled labor! 

And Now?

Well, now I’m the Senior Minister for the Southeast Church of Christ in Friendswood, Texas, a very pleasant Houstonian suburb. It’s a great job and I’m blessed to have it.

Reasons for feeling blessed:

  • I have a job instead of being unemployed.
  • I make more than a $1.50 an hour.
  • Only work one day a week. (as some suggest)
  • It’s a great church
  • Get to work with a phenomenally gifted staff.

 

And Jesus?

Was Jesus ever employed? Scripture says he was a carpenter, which is a bit confusing since the word translated as “carpenter” actually means builder. Most building in Palestine was done with stone. Was he ever paid? 

He once said that he had no place to lay his head. People gave money for he and his apostles to travel and minister; and we know Judas stole from the fund, but was that gainful employment? 

At his death Jesus owned nothing. Even the clothes on his back were taken. With outstretched arms he hung naked on the cross and the King of Kings owned nothing; no money, property, or possessions.

He preached, healed and ministered to the masses, all for no charge. He never asked for anything. Well, he once asked a woman for a drink of water.

Thank you Jesus. You were the son of Joseph, the son of David, the Son of God. You were the Lamb that gave his life. You were the perfect sacrifice to bring us back to God. You  labored to get it all done and get it done you did, you even said so:

“It is finished.”
And then you died.

The Bible

Happy Labor Day

Which One Are You?

Sponge, Funnel, Strainer and Sifter

sponge  funnel  strainer  sifter 2

 

What?

From the Rabbinical Jewish Talmud, there are four types of students, or hearers, who sit among the Rabbis.

1.”The sponge,” who soaks up everything.

2.”The funnel,” who takes in at one end but lets it go at the other end.

3. “The strainer,” who strains the wine but retains the lees. 

4. “The sifter,” who removes the coarse meal but collects the flour.

Sound Familiar?

It is similar to the teaching Jesus gave about the farmer who went out to plant his seed. It wasn’t about the farmer, but the different soils the seed was cast upon. There were four:

  1. The packed soil of the hard path that was impossible to penetrate.
  2. The rocky soil so full of rocks the roots had no place to go.
  3. The weedy soil that kept the plant from maturing and becoming fruitful.
  4. The healthy soil that was soft, receptive, and ready to support life. 

As we know, Jesus spoke the parable to illustrate four kinds of hearts.  

The Project

Over the summer I’ve been transforming my back yard. Not the whole yard but the flower beds that line the fence on three sides. They were overgrown with bushes, shrubs, trees, flowers, vines, and ground cover; it looked like a rain forest. Besides being an overwhelming jungle it was just too much to maintain. So, I’ve been thinning, pruning, and removing. I’ve been pulling out three kinds of wild vines and all the ground cover.

Along the way I encountered four kinds of dirt:

  1. Dirt that hadn’t been worked in years, it was hard and unyielding. 
  2. Dirt that was saturated with small rocks form earlier landscaping.
  3. Dirt that was rooted from the weedy and thorny vines.
  4. Dirt that was soft, clean and without rocks, roots, or weeds. 

I’ve spent the summer digging, pulling, uprooting, cutting, raking and leveling. It’s September 2 and it’s finally coming together! Yeah. 

If the soil had all been #4 soil I would have been finished weeks ago.

When it comes to cleaning up an unkept flower bed, give me soft soil without weeds, vines, or rocks. With clean and receptive soil I can easily plant new things and shape the soil to accommodate whatever I want to do.

With Jesus

I hope that’s how Jesus finds my heart. With a clean and receptive heart he can easily plant new teaching and shape me to accommodate whatever he wants me to do.

clean soil

But am I? Am I the 4th soil? Am I the sponge? Or am I something else. What about you? 

Shalom

My First & Last Day On The Farm

He handed me the keys to a 4 x 4 truck, a dually, towing a propane tank. I was 14. 

truck and propane trailor
Not the truck and propane trailer I used, but close, really very close 🙂

So there I was, an unlicensed driver, with no experience, driving a truck pulling a large propane tank. Uh Huh, sure. 

The Why

It was a summer job. He was a deacon at church and needed help around his farm. I had never worked on a farm largely because I had never been on one. 

The What

He had several large fields and various properties. My job was to drive to them and do weed control. When he offered the job he asked, “Rick, you can you drive a truck can’t you?” I replied, “Yes sir, I can drive a truck” 

I couldn’t.

The How

The procedures:

  1. Go to each place and park the truck
  2. Open the handle on top of  the propane tank
  3. Use the striker to light the torch
  4. Torch the weeds as far as the hose allowed
  5. Move the truck and repeat the process

The First Incident

He told me to stay on the “path” that bordered the fields on each side. I was in the fields to kill the weeds growing around the fence posts. His warning, “Rick, don’t get off the path or you’ll get stuck in the field.” Guess what happened? That was the 1st incident and he wasn’t happy.

The Second Incident

I’ll avoid explaining how it happened and just say that I burned down several cotton trailers and damaged some others. The good news was that the 2nd incident overshadowed the 1st one. He totally forgot that I stuck the truck in the field.

It was my final day on the farm.

cotton trailors
Not the trailers I burned, but close, really very close.

 

Some Thoughts

Jesus talked about farming. Northern Palestine was fertile and good for growing wheat, barley, grapes, figs, and olives. He told a parable about a farmer who went to sow his field. He did it by using a sack tied around his neck that he held with one hand while casting the seed with the other.

casting seed

The parable illustrated…

  1. Seed on a hard path won’t grow, can’t get through the packed soil. 
  2. Seed on soil with lots of rocks will root but not deeply, roots can’t grow.
  3. Seed on weedy – thorny soil will grow but not well, too much competition.
  4. Seed on clean and fertile soil will grow and grow well. 

His wasn’t criticizing farmers but illustrating how people are like the soils. Some have hard hearts and the Word can’t penetrate. Some have rocky hearts and the Word won’t last due to shallow roots. Others are like the weedy/thorny soil, the Word roots and grows, but won’t mature since there is so much competition. But some have soft, fertile and open hearts so the Word roots, grows and becomes fruitful. That’s the good stuff. 

His point to each person standing there:

How do you listen to my Word; what kind of heart do you have? 

Shalom