I wonder sometimes if I’ll ever get past my insecurities. Next month I’ll be 56 years old. You’d think at this age I would finally have it all together. You’d think that as I’ve grown in the knowledge of who God is and what He can do through me, I’d finally be able to believe truth over a lie. You’d think I’d finally be able to fight my personal demons by standing on the promises of who I am as God’s child. You’d think I’d finally learned to think less of myself and think more of God. HA! The one truth I find comfort in today is this: When I don’t have it all together, thank heavens I know WHO holds me together.
My husband is the co-manager of a Piggly Wiggly in a small town here in North Carolina. His manager asked us to accompany him and his wife to a Chamber of Commerce function last night sponsored by a local car dealership. As my husband’s loving, devoted spouse, he wanted me to be by his side. Only I didn’t want to go. I made myself sick to my stomach. I let anxiety rule over me. I let misery keep me company all day long. Not only was I miserable, but I did everything I could to make my husband miserable, too. I’m ashamed to admit I don’t always act very loving and devoted…
Do you want to know why?
Because going to that function last night would take me completely out of my comfort zone. It would mean putting myself in a strange place, surrounded by people I didn’t know, forcing me to confront my disabilities with grief and frustration. Why would anybody want to set herself up for that kind of discomfort, I ask you?
I’ve spent my entire life living with this insecurity: because my hearing disability hinders my ability to converse with others in populated places, I feel left out. I may be present in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense I feel far away. As if I’m on the outside, looking in. That’s the simple truth. And I hate feeling left out.
The bottom line is that I get very little out of these kinds of functions. I don’t hear what the speakers are saying so I just tune out. I find myself day dreaming which isn’t always a bad thing. It keeps me company, but then I find myself laughing out loud at my thoughts when the speaker is serious and frowning when the speaker is telling jokes. I wonder what people are thinking of me because I didn’t smile or laugh at the appropriate times. Seriously, could I possibly be any more vain than that?
I can’t contribute to table conversation unless someone talks to me one-on-one because I’m a lip reader. I have to focus so hard in noisy places on the one speaking to me that I exhaust myself mentally and emotionally. Sometimes I misunderstand what has been said and my response is met with quizzical looks that lets me know what I said didn’t have anything to do with the topic of conversation at all. Oops. So I clam up. Then I wonder if people think I’m a snob or some disinterested person who should have stayed home. Seriously, could I be any more pretentious than that?
So much for dignity.
But….I have some good news to share. I’ve learned over the years that to put myself in situations that take me completely out of my comfort zone are great opportunities for God to keep me from becoming so introverted that I close myself off and hide myself away. God doesn’t want me to become a recluse because of my disabilities. My human self may fight tooth and nail to retreat, but in the end my spiritual self will stand up and step out. Bless my dear, sweet husband, though. I don’t think he had any idea what life with me would be like when he married me 34 years ago. Sometimes I wonder why he puts up with me, but I’m so thankful he does. When the worst of me shows up, he just waits patiently for the best of me to take control again. I know it’s not easy on him living with a woman so full of a sorry attitude. And I’m usually always sorry for making him miserable. Actually, ‘I’m sorry’ has become one of my mantras. Someone said to me once, “Why are you always sorry? I’m gonna start calling you ‘Sorry Nina.’ ” I think that was a joke.
So last night wasn’t really all that bad considering the agony I’d brought on myself throughout the day. My husband’s manager, Troy, has this truly amazing wife named Susie. While Wayne and Troy talked shop and networked with other business owners, Susie was putting me at ease. She’s down-to-earth and completely unpretentious. Two things I wish I were. While I was so preoccupied with what others were thinking of me, she was occupied with making sure I didn’t feel left out. Self-less. That’s Susie. God love her.
In all honesty, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll probably always fight my insecurities on this earth. But, don’t worry, I don’t plan on letting them win. Yes, the battle gets pretty thick at times. So thick that I think I’m gonna lose it, but there’s this wonderful truth I love about being God’s child:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose…If God is for us, who can be against us?…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:28,31,37-39
I am MORE than a conqueror. More means “greater in number; size, amount, extent or degree,” so I guess you could say I’m not your average every day conqueror. (That’s definitely a wow-thing ’cause I need all the help I can get!)
God comes alongside me to give me everything I need–in excess! (the state of exceeding what is normal or sufficient)–to rise above the challenges of day-to-day living, to rise above my insecurities. To give me a purpose and a calling. To slay my personal demons. To hold me together. To keep me from feeling left out.
So, when my insecurities want to make me sick to my stomach, when anxiety threatens to dethrone my peace, when misery wants to keep company with me I can be almost certain that God is shaking me up a bit and I can expect Him to take me out of my comfort zone. Maybe I won’t like it. Maybe I will.
But I can guarantee this: most likely I’ll survive with my dignity intact.