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Michelle Warner

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Exposed Insecurities

Posted on August 5th, 2010

Thank you for your patience as I’ve taken a hiatus from blogging. I felt that I needed to step away for a while to process all that has occurred over the last nine months. Below is a blog entry that I’ve been preparing for some time. I will update you more on what I am learning these days in my upcoming entries. Again, thanks so much for your prayers and encouragement!

***

Recently while flying to Florida, I flipped through a beauty magazine to pass the time. I came across a page that asked celebrities “What are you insecure about?” and I was struck by several of their responses:

  • Anna Kendrick (The Twilight Saga): “I get insecure about everything. I’m still bewildered when people know my name or my face. I can’t figure out what they would possibly want to talk to me for.”
  • Rachel Bilson (The O.C.): “Plenty of things make me feel insecure. I just choose to ignore them as much as I can.”
  • Viola Davis (Eat, Pray, Love): “That they make these clothes for women who have no behind and no thighs. And I have been endowed with some of both.”

What would your response be if you were asked that question?

My insecurities have definitely felt exposed as I’ve navigated this cancer journey. For instance, since I don’t like to stand out, the inevitable glances that result in wearing a scarf on my head make me feel self-conscious. I can hardly walk through Target without feeling people’s stares.  Of course I know the double takes are motivated by concern or curiosity, but they still play into my insecurities.

I’ve noticed even the most insignificant situations can cause my insecurities to flare, as was the case a few months ago. I decided to book a massage at a nearby massage school to knead out the knots in my back caused by my chemo. When I arrived, I filled out their medical history form—not even considering that writing “cancer” on the form would stir up questions. When finished, I followed the massage therapist to the assigned room where she gave me her quick instructions before stepping out so I could undress. Lying on the table, I waited under the sheet for my massage for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the door creaked open but instead of the masseuse, her supervisor entered the room.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Warner, do you have cancer?” he whispered, trying not to ruin the relaxing mood in the room. Startled, I told him that I had an ovarian tumor removed and was almost finished with my chemo. He nodded his head, saying he would discuss this information with the masseuse and left the room. After several more minutes, the massage finally began.

From the onset of my massage, it was obvious the sweet masseuse was worried that even the slightest pressure would cause me pain. As a result, her massage felt more like a gentle breeze than therapeutic kneading. I certainly didn’t blame her and appreciated her concern, but the whole situation caused me to feel insecure, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on the reason.

Pondering more about the situation on my way home, I realized I was insecure because it felt like there was a huge neon arrow pointing at me, highlighting that I was different. I just wanted receive a routine, relaxing massage and instead was reminded of how “unique” my situation was.

This thought took me back to the teenage girls’ conference that my college roommates and I created several years ago. In one of the sessions, we discussed a girl’s desire to be accepted. In order to feel accepted, we may try to fill the void in countless ways—a  relationship with a guy, a friendship, achievement, etc.—but they are never enough because we are looking in the wrong places. We shared with them that although it’s a normal desire to want to feel accepted, we need to channel that desire to find security in God first. Finding our acceptance first in Him offers more fulfillment than anything else possibly can. We pointed them to John 10:10: “Jesus said, ‘I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.’”

As I drove home recalling Jesus’ encouraging promise, I realized that the truth I shared with those girls is also the truth for me. (Duh!)  Although fitting in is a common desire, I can’t become so wrapped up in seeking other’s acceptance that I forget how crucial it is to spend my energy focusing on God’s truth. His truth declares that my security comes from Him and the worth He gives me rather than my physical features or others’ perceptions of me.

I also realized a key point that day: while our insecurities may never completely disappear, we can always manage our responses to them.

Which got me thinking…

When we feel insecure, do we:

-become defensive and lash out?
-disengage and close up?
-criticize or judge?
-obsess about the situation?
-fall apart in a puddle of tears?
-ignore the problem all together?

Or do we:

-assess the root of our insecurity?
-bring our hurts and disappointments to God?
-recognize God’s truth in our current situation?

When my insecurities are exposed like during my massage, I can feel my emotions rising and I’m tempted to respond in the ways described in the first list above.  But I am learning that before I react, I need to share my insecurities with God, asking Him to reveal the root of my insecurities and lead me to His truth. When done effectively, this process allows me to respond to my insecurities in a healthy manner rather than allowing my shame, hurt, or anger to control me.

In her new book, So Long, Insecurity, Beth Moore reiterates this truth: “When you and I are triggered to expose the most vulnerable, broken parts of ourselves through a rush of insecurity, we can train ourselves to immediately recite this truth to our souls: ‘It’s okay. I’m completely covered [by God].’ And oddly, that very thought all by itself begins the healing. We are not nearly as likely to react with the same level of insecurity when we remember how well covered we are by God” (155).

This approach has helped me tremendously when I encounter situations that expose my insecurities. A little while ago after my chemo treatments had ended, I met some friends for pedicures. Because I wore a scarf on my head, the nail technician leaned over to my friend and asked if I was well enough to receive a pedicure. I could sense the neon arrow again pointing in my direction. But before I reacted, I gave myself a little pep talk, reminding myself of the worth God has given me. I laughed off the comment, choosing to enjoy my time out with my friends. Ruminating on God’s truth and promises helps to re-center me, especially when my insecurities attempt to overtake me like rising flood waters.

Although this post only begins the discussion on insecurity, addressing and understanding our own insecurities it is an important first step. My prayer for each of our journeys is that we seek to become godly, healthy women who are life-giving to those around us. Whether our insecurities are exposed through mediocre massages or other situations, we can lean on the Lord for our ultimate security and confidence.

“Whom have I in heaven but You?
And I have no delight or desire on earth besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion forever…
But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord God and made Him my refuge.”
Psalm 73: 25-26, 28

7 Comments on “Exposed Insecurities”

  • britt says:

    my heart was so thirsty for this !! i’m so excited you posted it because you were talking about it in chi & i have been anxiously awaiting it !!
    love you !

  • Elizabeth Stiffler says:

    I really liked the responses/reactions that you mentioned towards the end. Thanks for the post!

  • shannon absher says:

    wow. seriously a timely reminder of truth for me. been struggling with insecurities BIG time this summer and feeling very alone in it… SO appreciate your vulnerability with sharing about this. love love your heart!

  • Judy N says:

    Oh, Michelle. This is amazing. I can tell you’ve been pondering it. I’ve thought often about some comments you made about our world’s obsession with hair. Your conclusions are so helpful! Keep writing when the Spirit moves. You have beautiful things to say–they come from the heart. Love you so much!

  • Kara says:

    Michelle – you don’t know me but I went to school with your husband. A client of mine (who is rocking a super cute pixie at this time with her new hair) is an ovarian cancer survivor, so I have been checking on your blog from time to time. :) I have a special needs child so I understand the looks that you speak of. I think its the pity looks that bother me the most. It is hard to let them roll off your back.

    I did however, want to provide you a link. Just a bit of “insight” into your experience with the massage therapist. :) Here is a small passage from the article. I’ve included a link if you would like to read the piece. Best wishes to you.

    “MacDonald, like every massage therapist who works with cancer patients, advocates a careful consultation with the patient’s physician before any massage. If patients have been in remission for more than a year, she generally does not consult the physician. If they are recently diagnosed or in active treatment, she always consults the physician or asks for a note. In turn, she provides doctors with a form that explains massage is just for comfort and relaxation. While she completes an intake with patients on their first visit, just as she would with any client, the more she knows about a patient, the more effective the treatment can be. A knowledge of working with these particular patients and training to achieve that knowledge are essential.

    For patients in active treatment, some of the more gentle modalities are encouraged, such as cranialsacral therapy, Polarity or Reiki. But with every patient, there are restrictions for bodyworkers to be aware of. People undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy often have low blood platelet counts and therefore can bruise easily. They must be worked on in a light manner. Restriction also comes with patients whose cancer has spread to the bones, which can become fragile and break under heavy pressure.”

    http://www.massageandbodywork.com/Articles/DecJan2000/cancer.html

  • Theresa says:

    Thank you for this post! I have been struggling with some major insecurities after fighting through an illness. I really needed this today!

  • [...] with us throughout adulthood until we deal with the root causes. And even when we deal with root, the feeling of insecurity can still pop up. But thankfully as we address the underlying reasons and allow them to bring us [...]

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