“Being Secure Helps Others.” That was the title of that particular day’s devotional. But instead of focusing on what the title said, my mind immediately turned it around. “Being Insecure Hurts Others.” My mind went back to the previous week when I had gone ‘off my rocker’ or so it seemed.
It was a hard week. The COVID restrictions were hitting my small business again and it felt bad. I was losing students and had so many cancellations or postponements come at me that week. I was able to hold out hope in all this until the last workday of my week when I lost yet another student. UGH! “What is going on?!” School closings, business closings, the holidays, quarantine, etc. made the perfect combination for a very disappointing work week. I was so down that I got to that ‘stuck’ feeling again. I chose to force myself to do something to get through it because I still had to parent, cook, and relate to my family before the evening was done.
Luckily, I found a way to practice my singing. I chose a sad French Song that talks about waking from a good dream and wishing to go back into it. After many run-throughs, I wanted to sing it like I was drawing others into the feeling too – performance time! So, I made a few recordings, some with my eldest daughter looking on. I was happy to share my ‘craft’ with her. It’s not often that my kids see what I studied after all. When all was said and done, I went from feeling very sad and despondent to a bit more normal again. I proceeded with the rest of my evening and enjoyed the time with my family. What I didn’t realize was that I was feeling a bit insecure about my work and our finances. I didn’t allow myself to dig deeper and this weight joined the already heavy feelings of this year. … insecurity.
But I hadn’t really gone deeper with all this and it built on some things that had already been happening and which reared their ugly heads throughout the weekend. One of those was my husband’s new business. He and a friend are trying their hand at a new type of socializing over the internet and it’s taken a lot more time than originally anticipated. This has meant focus and energy away from us for an extended period of time. Of course, not all the time, but just enough that it started to feel like it was dragging on. When things take a long time to get realized (like our adoption dreams right now), it can feel really disheartening. He and the friend continued to chug away at this new venture, but these things just take time!
Additionally, since we could only invite a few people to join us in BETA mode, I really hoped everyone would jump on the bandwagon and join us. Of course, some couldn’t because they didn’t have the necessary things in place, but others just weren’t interested. This really hurt my heart. Each time someone said, “No, not this time,” it was like I was taking it personally! I didn’t quite realize, unfortunately, and those repressed feelings began to grow. I just pushed them aside and thought, “Maybe next time.” But my heart was thinking, “Why won’t they just help us and rejoice with us?” Another weight added to my heart… another insecurity.
The hits kept coming in that particular weekend. Do you ever have times like these? I know it’s all part of the human condition, but we don’t ever want it to be part of our condition! Anyway, the next day my daughter came down with a cold. We were being careful to avoid situations where we might get sick because my husband would be preaching soon and needed to stay healthy (and COVID-free) in order to do that. I also didn’t want to cancel any lessons due to sick kids because I had a responsibility to my students, my husband, and my family to keep teaching. We’ve already had enough change-ups this season, I didn’t want anymore.
So, when my youngest got sick, I felt worried. I knew it was probably just a cold because of the other people that I knew who had it (and tested negative for COVID), but still, there’s always that feeling of wondering and worry. I worried that it would systematically go through us one by one and that my husband would get it just as he was going to preach. That would not be good. Who wants a sneezing and snotty preacher on stage in this time of Coronavirus? No one, that’s who. So, I pushed my feelings aside and focused on helping my little one feel comforted. I watched each of my other kids to see if they showed any signs of sickness too. Yet, I did not take time to really look at how I was feeling. I was insecure about sickness on so many levels. And so was added …. Another insecurity.
The Breaking Point…
Could we just be done now? Nope… the next day was coming and it held the final straw. My ‘back’ broke and it wasn’t pretty. We had to stay home from church that day. Well, the kids and I did anyway. After all, ya can’t take a sneezing kid to church right now, right? So, we tuned in to the Livestream. That was nice. It was a great service and we had a nice family time with online church. But something was bothering me.
As a person whose husband works in the church, this tense season hasn’t been easy. After 10+ years of my husband working at our church, and over 15 years of attending that church, I’ve become a cheerleader for our church-team. Normally, this is great, but when you come to love something so much, any hurt against it can feel like a hurt against you too.
To say this COVID time was been a challenge for the Church (at large) is an understatement. Do we meet or don’t we meet? Do we mask or don’t we mask? How do we help the greatest number of people during this time? Is any group of people falling through the cracks? How do we relate to our diverse congregation in regards to the racial incidents? How do we address the election in our politically diverse congregation? There is no one-size-fits-all approach.
I haven’t been a part of the decision making in all of this and neither has my husband because of his change in responsibilities this summer, but let me tell you, I know it hasn’t been easy. I’ve witnessed the social media comments both for and against the leadership decisions of the church. I’ve read the fighting and arguing between my beloved church member friends. The divide has torn at me. No one alive today has had to make decisions in a time quite like this, and it’s just been plain hard. I tried complaining. I tried sympathizing. I tried a number of things to get over the feelings of pain that all this has brought to the surface in me, but it hasn’t resolved. Sometimes pain takes a while to resolve and that’s okay. But what I didn’t notice was the feeling of insecurity growing. It was triggered as I watched the Livestream of the service from home. I was feeling the insecurity of the unknown. What will church look like once we can meet together again in a regular fashion without the worry of spreading a contagious disease? I just don’t know and so there was heaped on me … another insecurity.
I broke that day. While conversing with people dear to my heart, I felt that insecurity pricked – but I didn’t know that’s what it was. My feelings were triggered by some things that were said and instead of taking time to wait, feel, decide, and respond, I just reacted. My words tumbled out in a passive-aggressive way – I’ll say something that sounds good, but really it’s a bit of a jab to you. I knew I shouldn’t be saying it while it was coming out, but I didn’t stop! As soon as I had said my piece, I immediately felt remorse. I knew that I should have waited. I knew that I wasn’t exhibiting love. I knew I had meant to hurt people. That’s not okay and so, I did the hard work of apologizing. I had good discussions about it with my dear people and things are good. I’m thankful they were quick to forgive. I don’t want to do that again.
“Being Insecure Hurts People.” I didn’t realize I had so many insecurities stacked up during this time. Even though I knew something was wrong, I hadn’t put this label on it. And yet, when I read that devotional title before I even read the text of the devotion, God showed me the truth. I had had so much insecurity that I lashed out and hurt the people I loved! I hadn’t allowed God’s healing to penetrate my heart during each of these circumstances. The insecurities just came so fast, one after another and I didn’t have time to heal. I was insecure.
But how do we become the “Secure People who Help Others” instead? From a counselor’s perspective (my counselor said this to me months earlier)… when we feel that things are insecure and unstable all around us, as is happening all over the world right now, we need to turn our focus and attention to the things that are stable and secure. We can do this by showing gratitude and regularly saying/writing out what is stable and secure at that moment. We can look to the things that are predictable – I will eat breakfast, lunch, dinner today. I will go to work, parent my children, wash the laundry, etc. We can focus on the ‘What Is’ instead of the ‘What If’ of our lives. And as one of our pastors said in her sermon, we can think of the ‘Even If’s.’
Finally, we can look up God’s promises about security in the Bible. And so, I’ll leave you with some Bible verses from Psalms and Proverbs to think on. I hope these will help you and me heal from all the insecurity that comes against us and help us to focus our eyes on the stability of Christ. Ultimately, I pray that we will all become ‘Secure People who Help Others.’
Psalm 16:5 (NIV) — LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
Psalm 16:9 (NIV) — Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.
Psalm 112:8 (NIV) — Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
Proverbs 14:26 (NIV) — Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
— Psalm 93:1 (NIV)
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Brittany Putman