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.
Thank you so much for this post. I have been struggling daily with insecurity and a general sense of being overwhelmed lately in my work and home life, and this was just the post that I needed today to help me get back to being more Christ centered and giving my worries and anxieties to him to do with as he wills. I always find your podcast to be uplifting and encouraging. My wife and I are expecting our first child in October and your podcast has been an excellent resource to build my spiritual parenting toolkit.
Erin Franco says
I love this. I’m so glad this post was a treasure for you!!!:)
I so needed to read this. Thank you for your gentle reminder.
Erin Franco says
You’re so welcome. So often when I write, it’t because I need to read it, too. May God guard our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus and give us peace and steadiness!
I know when I became a mother, this problem became both better and worse for me. I stopped being anxious about all the “me things”, but then started doubting myself about all the “them things”. My husband, my kids, these little souls entrusted to me…am I ruining them all? It’s almost more of a temptation when we add in the spiritual component to it, it seems to add a gravity to decisions that may or may not be there.This reminds me of a post at Whole Parenting this week about anxieties in our 30s (“Am I gripping these moments with my kids with just the right finger tension–not too helicoptery and not too nonchalantly?”) I try so hard to remember that even if my discernment isn’t perfect, He will bless our efforts. (Hopefully!) 😉
Erin Franco says
Your first sentence–yes! And I really liked Nell’s post on anxiety this week, too! I tend to bring God into everything and sometimes pray like I can’t make a single decision for myself, or that there’s only one “right” decision. I liked something I read by Simcha Fisher a while back (Maybe in The Sinner’s Guide to NFP?) about God’s will. She talked about how God kind of wants us to figure it out, sometimes, and that if we are doing our best to discern His will, we are going to get where we’re supposed to be going in the end, even if in some of the littler things, we end up having to “guess” a lot, or make little detours, etc.
And how freeing and needed it is to know that He will bless our efforts even if our discernment isn’t perfect?! I have some bigger and littler things in my past that I still have no idea if I was “supposed” to do them or not. I only know that it kind of doesn’t matter now, because God has worked it all out and all together.
What a great comment–thank you:)
Amy @ The Salt Stories says
Erin, this is so perfect! Thanks for sharing.
A post titled “I see no snakes lord” is hiding in my draft folder. It is a phrase that has been rattling around in my head for years after reading Luke 11. God does not give us snakes, when we ask for bread. No matter what life throws at us, we must know that god’s nature is all good, and life provides an opportunity for holiness at every turn.
Dana Todd says
Erin, I truly struggle daily with this, and it is so true that comparison is the thief of joy. It’s almost as though I have to remain in my little house with my little family just to stay away from the constant situations of keeping up with the Joneses in Baton Rouge. But then there are those times when I leave and amidst all the crazy talk of super moms, I have someone tell me their struggle that I would have never thought existed for that seemingly perfect person! Thank you. I always feel as though it’s heaven’s words speaking to me through your fingers:)
Erin Franco says
You’re so sweet, Dana! I didn’t realize you were in BR too!:) I have friends from many walks of life here in town. I was thinking about your comment and it occurred to me that some of the “Joneses” are actually “trying” to keep up and live a certain lifestyle, but many Joneses I (shouldn’t) compare myself to are just doing what they love to do, or what comes naturally, or what they can afford, or what works beautifully for their family. And that is when the devil sends confusion to put them all in the same pot, instead of letting me realize that what works wonderfully for another family may not work for mine.
I desperately needed to read this today. Thank you for the reminder that He is a good, good Father.
Another wonderful post. Thank you for always being so open & honest!
Erin Franco says
Thank you:) And to be even more honest, sometimes I wonder if what I share is a little too honest. But in the end, I’ve been too encouraged and helped by reading “honest” posts from other bloggers and some great books, too, that I want to keep going if it blesses people and and as long as each piece I write is blessed by my husband, of course.:)