Why is it that the good news, achievements, talents or even virtues of other people sometimes rub us the wrong way? Why are we so quick to fall into discouragement about where we are in our own lives when we hear or see success in someone else?
I am not beyond this struggle. Honestly, there are a hundred times every week that I battle feelings of insecurity over the smallest things. Should I be doing more of this or less of that? Should I sign my kids up for that too? Was my discernment totally off on that? How does she find time for that? Should my kids be better at this by now? Are we doing enough? How do they do it all? Should I be doing it all?
We’ve got to be so vigilant about patrolling our thoughts. We’ve got to constantly tell those D-words where to go. Because “[our] adversary the devil prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil wants us to be insecure about everything, because when we are busy feeling insecure, we are not busy staying rooted in God.
The thing is, from the friend who never seems to have trouble getting a healthy dinner on the table to your favorite blogger, I’ll bet that there is a “she’s got it all together” person in each of our lives who carries a cross that we know nothing about.
We have got to take people off pedestals created by our own insecurity and fear. Part of how we do that is by reminding ourselves of their certain humanity. They say that you should be kind to everyone you meet, because you never know who might be having the worst day of her life. From clinical depression to a marriage crippled by pornography addiction, from a family member dying of alcoholism to serious financial difficulties–so many of us deal with problems that are invisible to others. I have dear friends and family members who are blessings to so many people around them, but all the while carry some of the heaviest, most complicated crosses you can imagine. We all need the kindness of others, and often the people we think need our kind words the least actually need them the most.
In the not-so-distant past, people who didn’t know me very well would have probably looked at me and thought that I “had it all together.” They would have seen a smiling, pretty, late-twenties young mama. They would have seen my cute kids and happy-looking family. They would have noted that I stayed home full-time and that I homeschooled one of the kids. They would have seen that my husband and I were involved in marriage ministry. They might have been impressed by the fact that I blogged, was a regular guest on Catholic radio, and had my own podcast. “How does she do it all?!” they might have said. “She’s got it all together,” they might have thought.
What those people wouldn’t have known about me then was that we were living with my parents indefinitely because of serious financial struggles (two years, in fact). Or that I was suffering from problems in my marriage. Or that I was dealing with grief from a miscarriage. Or that I struggled with undiagnosed anxiety and depression.
They wouldn’t have known that their kindness and friendship probably meant the world to me that day.
Like I said, I still battle insecurity–very much so. But I have weapons up my sleeve now that are slowly winning the war to keep my peace more and more. When those nagging, stinging little thoughts of insecurity hit me, I cry out to Jesus. I make myself remember where I’ve been and where I am now (healed and moved beyond so many of the troubles I mentioned above!). And I pray with Mary, “He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name” (Luke 1:48-49).
The devil wants us to forget God’s work and mercy in our lives. And he wants us to doubt that when we ask God for guidance and grace in even the smallest matters, that He’ll actually give us those things.
I ask God daily to guide my life. To grow me, my marriage, and my family in holiness. To guide Michael and me in making our every major decision about money, family life, marriage, parenting, education. I don’t know if I’ve perfectly discerned His will for all of those things. But I do know that if I ask Him for help, He’s going to give it to me. He’s not going to let my prayers for guidance storm Heaven only to land on deaf ears.
One of my favorite Bible verses to combat insecurity and fear is this one: “For every man who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?” (Matthew 7:7-9)
When I feel insecure about my mothering, my marriage, or those hundreds of little and bigger things that characterize myself and my life, I finally must remind myself that I’ve asked for the help of a good, good Father, and He will not give me a stone.