Post by Faith Reboot’s Leslie Nease
(Real Life with Leslie Nease)
I had just given birth to my son, Tommy, and I was struggling with my weight. I was the heaviest I’d ever been. For many years I was the cheerleader, popular girl with “looks” and all of a sudden, they were gone. I had lost my identity. I overheard some teenage boys talking about me from a distance. One of them said “Hey man, look at that lady!” and the other one said “She’s a fat cow! You don’t think she’s pretty, do you?” that’s when the other guy said, “Heck no, she’s gross.” Then they proceeded to “Moo” at me. I was absolutely sick and it tormented me for days.
Why did this bother me so much, though? I mean, who really cares what two immature, obviously disrespectful and mean teenage boys have to say? But at that moment, I took it as truth. It was painful and it shook me to the core. Just a few years prior, they would have been cat-calling and I would have been rolling my eyes at them! Funny how I hated the cat-calls so much when I felt good about myself, but when I’d lost my “looks” and they stopped, I began to wonder if I was still beautiful.
My heart breaks as I remember this time in my life. So much of who I wanted to be was wrapped up in my outside that I then began a very dark path into an eating disorder. Not anorexia or binging and purging, but exercise bulimia. I found myself running after a meal, jogging after a snack and for every calorie I took in, I felt I needed to “pay” for it by abusing my body with some sort of over-the-top workout.
As the weight fell off, the compliments began again and I started to feel more “in control” of my life. I kept it up for about a year and I distinctly remember seeing my step mother one day and her eyes welled with tears, “Where’s my Leslie? You don’t look healthy. Are you okay? You look sick.” I chalked it up to jealousy. Yeah, she was just jealous that I looked so good! I look at pictures from that time in my life and realize that she was absolutely right and I was delusional. I did look sick. I was so thin I was barely recognizable and you could see my bones. But I never noticed any of that. I was so fixated on keeping myself “fit” that I completely lost myself.
I was at the gym working out one day and a personal trainer approached me and was honest with me. She was concerned about me and said it looked like I was struggling with an eating disorder. She saw me in they gym a lot and thought my workouts were a bit over-the-top. She offered to help me get healthy and get on a more balanced eating and exercise plan. I was so angry with her at first and even thought she was jealous! I am so thankful, as I look back, that God allowed her to approach me and gave her strength to be honest. Working with her gave me perspective and helped me to find balance.
I wish I had known Jesus at that point in my life. My identity was so wrapped up in my physical looks and I was so insecure and so afraid to lose what I believed was my identity, that I lost all sense of who I was as a person. And yet still today, knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I struggle with insecurities when I focus on myself and not Christ. If I want to live in security, my identity should be focused on who I am in Him, not who I am in my own strength.
Proverbs 31:30 reminds us that, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” What a fragile and fleeting thing outward beauty is! No wonder Hollywood stresses the importance of plastic surgery and dismisses people at the first sign of a wrinkle or cellulite. And yet, so many of us look to that culture for the standard of beauty.
So, what can we do?
Four Practical Ways to Help Your Insecurity
1. Remember who you are in Christ. One thing we can do as Christians is challenge ourselves the next time we have a self-condemning thought. If the thought is, “I’m so worthless.” Just tack on the phrase “in Christ” to the end of it. Sounds simple, and it is, but it’s so effective. Does it seem true to say, “I’m worthless in Christ”? Not at all! Remember that you are God’s chosen child and that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
2. Keep an eternal perspective in your life. Our purpose as believers is to bring glory and honor to God and to share His truth with others. When we get caught up in the things of the world (the outward), we can become so distracted from our purpose that we can get discouraged, disillusioned and we eventually lose sight of our eternal purpose in this life. 2 Corinthians 4:18 reminds us to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, and what is unseen is eternal.”
3. Focus on God-confidence, not self-confidence. The world will tell you how important your “self” confidence is, but I want to challenge that notion. I know it’s important to feel good about yourself, and I’m all for feeling good, but God-confidence puts our identity in perspective. It reminds us that any good thing in us comes from God, and our esteem comes from Him alone. If we are basing our confidence on anything else, it is a sinking sand foundation. Our bodies are not perfect, our life is not perfect and once we become a Christian, our lives are still not perfect! But the One who lives in us is perfect. Remind yourself of that daily!
4. Study scripture and pray, spending time with God daily. This should be the number one thing we do to help our confidence! When we know what God has to say about us and we spend time with Him, we cannot help but change from the inside out. A person’s wisdom brightens their face and changes its hard appearance (Ecclesiastes 8:1). Wisdom that comes from this discipline has the power not only to change our inward beauty (which is more important in the long run – see 1 Samuel 16:7) but also our outward appearance.
Remember that the moment we take someone else’s opinion of us as truth over what God says about us, we are putting them in the place of God in our lives. They become an idol. The moment we take the culture’s ideal and try to live up to it, we lose ourselves. If we trust in man, we face insecurity.
When we trust in God we live in security.
What is your story of struggling with insecurity? How has God helped YOU through it? I’d love to hear your story!