Check out the first of many video devotionals.
Sound bytes to help you break free from what holds you back.
Check out the first of many video devotionals.
Sound bytes to help you break free from what holds you back.
A blessed life is not a life without heartache, a blessed life is what you allow yourself to learn through the hard times. How you let those heart aches mold and shape you.
“As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.” The Valley of Baka, translated as the Valley of Tears, was an actual place near the city of Jericho. It was the only passageway into Israel’s Cities of Refuge and some scholars speculate it was also the only way that led up to the city of Jerusalem where the temple of God was found. It was desert country, filled with thorns, wild animals, pitfalls, and obstacles of all kinds. To tread this treacherous valley reduced weary travelers to tears, thus the name it was given. The only hope of getting through the valley were the pools that held the rains and even those were often few and far between.
The beauty of this seemingly abstract scripture is that we all pass through the Valley of Tears in our own lives. For some of us, our whole lives feel like one big journey through the dessert wastelands and we wonder if we’ll ever make it through to the other side. We may feel tempted to give up or give in to the tempting thoughts that tell us what God has promised will never happen, or that because of our choices we’ve damaged our lives beyond repair. The good news for us who place our trust in Christ is that times of refreshing will come as we pass through this Valley. (Acts 3:19) But we cannot wait for breakthrough. We do not just sit idle and hope this time of suffering passes us by. No, we keep walking forward and do our part to turn our times of sorrow and pain into wells from which we can draw on the waters of spiritual maturity and growth. We don’t do this by giving up when those times of heart ache come, we do this by digging our own wells. Wells that catch the rain of refreshing, but also deeper wells, that tap into the water that is already inside us lying concealed beneath the surface of our sometimes wayward and distrusting hearts.
If we are in Christ, He is in us a spring of living water (Jer. 2:13) To sustain ourselves as we walk through the Valley of Tears, we must dig. And it is in the digging, the searching, the pressing in where we grow. The blessing is not necessarily in the release of heartache or a life without it. The blessing is in how we’re strengthened through the process. The blessing is His presence. The blessing is Him. “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.” Achor means trouble. What we consider trouble, chaos and calamity, God calls a door of Hope. A gateway into His presence. Our troubles and hardships give us a reason to dig down deep into Him. He wastes nothing and uses it all for our good, and more importantly, for His glory.
Part 2 of the radio interview I did on Shifting the Atmosphere with Frederica is available for you to listen.
This segment is all about insecurity in relationships, focusing mostly on insecurity in marriage. I am so passionate about this topic. I hope you will listen and be encouraged and inspired to live free.
Recently I was asked to join Frederica Peterson on her radio show Shifting the Atmosphere.
You can access the interview by clicking this link and choosing the latest podcast.
I Hope you’ll listen. I know it will inspire you to live free from the insecurities that hold you back!
As Cody and I continue to build our home The Lord continues to speak to me about the importance of heritage. I was discussing with an old acquaintance what I’m working on and when I told him of this new project about heritage he said, “Wow, you don’t hear that word very often anymore.” He’s right. Like an endangered species this word is quickly becoming extinct from our culture and when we begin to lose a word from our language, it’s meaning and practices fade along with it. My distant writing mentor, Madeleine L’Engle, warned me of this when she encouraged fellow artists not to shy away from words and language that might be hard to understand, or even unpopular. “In restricting the language, we have lost that depth and breadth which can give us the kind of knowing which is our heritage.” I’m all for new ideas, and better ways of doing things, but there is something so vitally important about preserving the old way; the language of our history, passing down the stories and values that remind us of who we are.
That’s why I love sitting on the construction site while my husband and father build this house together, one two by four at a time. It gives me the opportunity to ask about those stories that shaped my origin long before I was ever born.
“When we built our house I didn’t have a fancy nail gun, like this one,” my dad said after nailing a board in place in three seconds flat. The nail gun is the most used tool on the build site. Cordless and running on butane power, holding thirty nails at a time. With it, walls go up in a matter of minutes with minimal effort on the operator. Without it, I doubt we would have the endurance to build a house on our own. (Cody would. He would remind me that he is a Marine and there is nothing too hard to do after going to war. He would be right of course. So when I say “we” I really mean me and confess that I’ve grown weak in my desire to do hard things in this instant-gratification age we live in now.)
“You mean you built that house with a hammer and nails?” I was amazed. I’ve watched first hand how grueling building this house has been for Cody and he’s had all the power tools you could ever want. To imagine my father building the house I grew up in with just a hammer and nails brought a whole new level of respect for his sacrifice to give us a better life.
I wanted to know more and even though I’ve heard these stories before, they seemed to take on a whole new level importance.
When they scouted the land my dad bought with his brother they found an existing structure that had been abandoned. An unfinished house at the bottom of a small hill or ravine. The plan was to live in that house while they built another up the hill in the trees a few yards back, but when they looked over the existing house they discovered it was structurally unsound. Actually that’s putting it mildly. After the siding was pulled off my dad was able to push on a wall and the whole structure rocked back and forth until it came crashing down.
Disappointed, they decided the only thing they could do was move into the three-bedroom single-wide mobile home with my dad’s brother; my uncle Charlie and Aunt Linda while they built the house. At the time they had three children, my older siblings Erin, Andrew and Ali who were six, three and newborn respectively, along with their small dog Dusty who had just had puppies.
Another disappointment came when they realized they would not be able to build the house where they wanted because of electrical lines reaching that far from the nearest transformer. So they finally decided the best thing to do was to tear down the existing structure and build their house on top of the concrete that was already laid. That means they couldn’t start from scratch. They had to build their house using a footprint that was already there and make the best of a layout they didn’t choose.
That didn’t stifle my dad’s resolve. The way he saw it, they would save a bundle on concrete and just look at all the lumber, siding and nails they could reuse on their own house. My dad has always been a saver (hoarder might be more appropriate wording here). Always saving, always collecting things that could be used again (but hardly ever are). However, in this case they really didn’t have a choice. Banks didn’t give out loans the way they do now and from the get-go my parents knew they didn’t want to be slaves to the debt of a large mortgage. My dad supported the family on his income as a window washer. He started and owned his own window washing company picking up other odd jobs wherever he could. They were able to take out a family loan from my dad’s grandmother to build the house, but still things were tight and they scraped and saved as much as they could.
They took that run-down house apart board by board. Not only that, they took it apart nail by nail. “Your mom pulled hundreds of nails out of boards to be used again. If they were crooked she would hammer them straight and add them to the bucket to be used on the new house.”
Hearing this, I was amazed and started feeling lazy for just sitting there listening to this story while my dad and Cody worked. I picked up a broom and began sweeping away the sawdust, allowing my dad to continue.
The existing foundation wasn’t even level so they ended up pouring new stem walls and adding a few more square footage to the house. “It was hard and slow work,” my dad said. “It was also difficult not to compare to other families who started moving onto nearby land. They decided to invest in mobile homes and move them out onto their plot of land. It was an instant house as opposed to what we were doing. It was hard not to think ‘why don’t we just do that too, it would be easier’ but we’ve never been one to do what everyone else was doing, or take the easy way. Nothing against those that chose this. It just wasn’t what we were called to do.”
Of course, I knew this about my parents. It’s the same stubborn will all my siblings have inherited. When we have in mind something we want to do, we do it despite the hurdles, hardships or resistance. It was the way I and my six brothers and sisters were raised. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain or be a contrarian, contrary to popular culture. Will you be judged for your decisions? Sure. But you know who you are, so the opinions of others shouldn’t matter. Will you have lots and lots of friends when you live your life differently from the norm? Probably not. You might be lonely, but you’ll always have each other. Will you inspire a few along the way? Hopefully, but that is not the reason you do it. You do it because it’s what God has called you to do.
If I get to be a part of this whole heritage thing (and we all do,) that is what I will want to pass down, pass along and pass out to anyone who might listen. Your foundation may already be laid from a negative family history. It may be unleveled, rocky and even undesirable but what you build on it can be something strong and beautiful. You may have to pour new stem walls to shore up this shaky foundation a little, but better slow, quality work than something quick and haphazard that can be easily pushed down. You may feel overwhelmed and inadequate at building a family legacy or passing down heritage that is worth being shared but it’s all in the materials you use. What is available to you? Use what you have. Make the most of what you’ve been given, resisting the urge to compare your lot to others, but boldly living out the story you’re to tell with your life. And don’t forget the nails.
A nail is a fastener. It holds materials together by friction in the axial direction and shear strength laterally. That is how a nail works. The definition of friction, as stated in the dictionary, is fascinating to me. “Friction is the force resisting relative motion.” As it plays out in life, anytime you have friction it’s most likely because you’re going against relative motion. You’re taking a stand against mediocrity, the norm, and the status quo, living for something greater. To make it through that friction we need to fasten our lives with the power of the One who took the nails for us. When we do we are invited to use that power as the fastener to hold our lives, our families, and our futures together.
That is the kind of heritage that will outlast us all.
(The finished house, where I was born, raised and still visit everyday.)
When my parents built their house they had each child press their handprint in the freshly poured concrete to commemorate the excitement and accomplishment of building a home. I wasn’t even born when the first set of three children, my older siblings, pressed their little hands into the concrete leaving their mark forever. The arrival of myself and three additional children necessitated a second addition to the house. When the foundation was poured, all seven children pressed their hands into the cold, wet rocks, and we traced our ages underneath. It was to commemorate a unique moment in time, that might otherwise be easily forgotten. I was born in that house. Literally, born into one of the rooms of the house my Daddy built. I lived my whole life in that house until I moved out at the age of twenty. My parents still live in that house, on the same stretch of land where I spent my childhood.
Now I also live on that land, in the woods where I grew up. My husband, Cody and I are building a house of our own for ourselves and our two children. We live in a sort-of community, “The Compound” is a name we’ve allowed begrudgingly, with three of my older siblings and their families who also built houses on the land that now spans 20 acres. I have three other siblings who do not live on the land with us… yet.
I know for certain my parents didn’t plan for any of us to move back to the place we were raised. When my Dad found the land, thirty plus years ago, it was in an effort to assuage his desire to become a park ranger. He’s always loved the woods, but when he realized a park ranger’s salary wouldn’t keep up with a growing family he went with the next best thing, living in the woods. And so for twenty years, that’s what I did.
As long as I can remember, my parents talked about the importance of heritage. I didn’t fully understand it at the time. The number underneath my handprint read 7, but I can remember several times growing up my dad giving long, serious speeches about something we came to call the “H” word. “Don’t get Dad started,” my older siblings would warn us. It became a joke in our family that anytime Dad wanted to talk or pray, we knew we’d be there a long time. “Oh no…” we’d say, “Not the ‘H’ word.”
It was a time, for me at least, that I followed my siblings with a watchful eye. I pretended not to like these talks, because that was the cool thing to do, but as I grew I found a unique strength I gained from them. An identity, founded on unshakable principles that my parents just wanted to share with us. These talks were not planned, thought out, or rehearsed. They sprang from spontaneous moments of instruction, encouragement, and passion that my parents had inside them. Things like hard work and determination. Doing a job with excellence. The importance of personal responsibility and caring for others. The importance of relationship and community. Being a part of the local church, grounded and rooted in God’s Word as a source of strength and identity. Allowing the Holy Spirit to lead your life in every way. All these things were freely discussed, but more importantly lived out, as I was raised in this family of seven homeschooled children. Now that we are all grown, I see these qualities played out in each of my siblings own families. That is what heritage is, after all: valued qualities, traditions and beliefs that are passed down from one generation to the next.
Now this is not to paint a picture of the perfect family. It’s not to say you must be a homeschooling family, living on land, in a house you built yourself to pass down heritage. In fact, my parents would be the first to tell you, it is by the grace of God they raised us and we all still enjoy spending time together. They would even tell you they felt like failures most of the time, and mostly just tried to survive raising seven children on a one-income budget. But that didn’t stop them from trying. It didn’t stop them from continuing to share their beliefs and passions and live them out everyday even when it looked like we weren’t listening.
I realize however, that for many, you may not have had parents like this. You may not have been raised in a Christ-believing home or taught the importance of heritage. Maybe the things passed down to you were not positive things, but curses you’re having to break in your life now. You may in fact be alone as a single parent, just trying to get by as both Mom and Dad. You may be a first generation believer without a genealogy of faith, and as one your job carries even greater importance, and perhaps you face even greater opposition. You are turning the tide, building a new foundation, and forging brand new paths in which your children, grandchildren and future great-grandchildren will be forever grateful. You are breaking family curses left from those before you, which means your role is even more vital in this battle.
Now that I am a parent, I am beginning to see the importance of heritage. It strikes me now more vividly than before because I’m realizing, whether we try or not, we will all leave a legacy. The question is will it be one worth passing down? Will it be one our children will want to emulate? It is a sobering thought to know the way I live my life right now is shaping my children’s upbringing, shaping their memories, their origin.
God has given me and my husband our own unique passions and qualities, and along with the ones instilled in us by our parents, we want to be intentional to share them with our children. Not in a forceful way, but through relationship. Through sharing our strengths and weaknesses, our failures and victories, and what God has done in our lives. I’m sure we’ll also pass along a few not-so-great things as well, but that is the nature of parenting.
Recently, I got to share this little piece of heritage with my own children. I showed them my seven-year-old handprint, now corroded by time, and we talked about the importance of hard work, and leaving our mark on the earth. Will they remember our conversation? Probably not. They are five and three, but that didn’t stop me from sharing this special moment and creating a new one of our own.
Cody and I are building our own home on an acre of land passed down to us by my parents. When they poured the fresh concrete we pressed our children’s handprint into the rock leaving their mark. Hopefully, one day they will show their own children and share with them the things that matter most.
Why would anyone care to read something I wrote? When there are so many other great—read that “better than me”—writers out there? Who have said it all… better than I can? What makes me special that people would want to hear what I have to say?
Those are the thoughts I battle constantly. I feel called to write, but I also fear writing for reasons I don’t understand. Why was I given this curse? This invisible pressure riding on my shoulders to put words to thoughts, and thoughts to paper? It’s horribly compulsory. I love that word, compulsory. Root word: compulsion or compel: to force or drive especially to a course of action. It’s the reason I get a lot done, this inner compulsion that drives me toward my goals. I was raised to be this way. My mother was and is a very driven woman, who taught me the importance of personal responsibility and despised laziness. I can even remember the definition she taught us, and how as little kids we could never quite pronounce the word properly. It didn’t keep us from memorizing what it meant. “Ponsability: doing a job in the way that you should, in the time that you should.” Looking back now, how she raised seven children without going crazy I’ll never know. Clearly God uniquely prepared her for the task and I’m thankful she rose to the challenge. Back to compulsion.
I’ve been learning a lot about myself over the past several months. Turning thirty will do that to a person. I’ve been turning inward for a bit to discover what I know, what I don’t, and what else I need to learn. Turns out it’s a lot.
I’ve been reading through a book by John Eldridge called Walking with God and he asks the question, “what is your basic approach to life?” He writes that many of us have an approach to life that is not in line with the way God designed. This is more than just how you spend your day, it is a deep seeded, inner motivation that has shaped your personality and the core of you as an individual.
I immediately knew my answer. I approach life with an “All or Nothing” mindset. Life in the extremes. The idea of “fight hard, attack life, attack the day, eat strict to lose weight, work out hard, write as much as possible, fill every free minute, invest in the children, keep the house clean, be a good wife, produce, produce, produce, push, push, push…. until I’m so exhausted, overworked, underfed, sore, used up, short, irritable, drained that I can barely function. All or Nothing. I used to say “this is just how I am.” But after walking more closely with God through the past year, I’m learning I don’t have to be that way. I can change, or at least invite Jesus in to “reshape my personality around His love,” as Eldridge suggests.
So I invited Him in. Through the process Jesus revealed to me that I really have a wrong idea about love. “What agreements have you made about love?” Eldridge asks and I came to the conclusion that I’ve believed love is conditional. I know where this idea stems from. As a teen, I grew up overweight—obese is more accurate. I never felt I fit in, never felt accepted. Little did I know then it was an inability to love and accept myself. I grew up believing the lie “If I was just skinnier I could… If I just lost weight than I could… If I wasn’t so sensitive then… If I was just more like this person, or that person, then I might be accepted, liked, loved.” Conditional. Now, I know God’s love is not conditional. I know God loves me, for no other reason except that I belong to Him, but he unearthed a deceptive root in my heart that essentially said, I’m not worth loving unless I look a certain way, or do certain things. If I do all these things right, than I’m worth loving, if I don’t, than I’m not.
He showed me the fruit of my belief. I don’t truly believe in His unconditional love. I want to. But it feels so wrong. So undeserved. I listen and believe the lies of the enemy all too often that tell me I don’t matter, I’m insignificant, He only loves me when I do XYZ, I don’t do enough, and never will. I found myself living for His approval instead of from it.
What is unconditional love? Perfect love. The Bible says perfect love drives out fear and that’s when it hit me. So much of what I do is motivated by fear. Fear of gaining weight. Fear of disapproval. Fear of failure. Fear of letting people down. Fear of what other people think. Fear of how I’m perceived. Fear of rejection. So I push, and produce and run myself into the ground with fearful compulsion. “All.” And then when I can’t go any further, when I can’t give anymore, when I’ve spent my last ounce of energy, self-control, will-power, I give in. Retreat. Fly the white flag. Give me that cookie, actually give me three. I’m done with the kids. I can’t handle this anymore. I’m so exhausted. I need carbs! Crawl into bed to escape. “Nothing.” All or Nothing. And when the fear of compulsion runs dry, guilt is right there waiting to take it’s place. Fear and guilt. This is no way to live. This is ping pong. Complete and utter inconsistency and I hate it.
Inconsistency. The other puppet string. I used to say I’m consistently inconsistent. I blamed it on my personality. I’m a free spirit. A rebel. I can’t be tied down by routine, schedules and regimens. But as the years catch up to me, and the longer I walk with the Holy Spirit, I’m seeing this is also an area I must allow Him to reshape.
Ok, I invite you into this Lord. What do you want to say to me in this?
His answer came quickly and clearly, in a phrase I felt rise from my heart: My grace is enough. Huh? Oh great! A nice little Sunday school answer. What does that even mean, My grace is enough?
Ironically enough, my name Anna, means “grace, or gracious one.” Maybe it’s not so ironic after all. Through this deeper search in my heart, The Lord began to unravel me.
I operate so much of my life under fearful compulsion, what I “ought” to do because I’m searching for acceptance, but compulsion breeds rebellion and rebellion breeds inconsistency.
He says, I want you to learn how to operate under grace because grace breeds gratitude and gratitude breeds love and you guessed it, perfect love casts out fear.
I don’t know what it means yet, to be perfected in love. Perhaps it’s not possible on this side of heaven. However, I do know where to go to learn perfect love.
Likewise, grace is a hard concept to grasp. It doesn’t make sense to our finite minds and I’ve never, truly understood it as fully as I would like. It’s hard to define, hard to articulate and even harder to accept. I was wrestling with this when again the Lord brought another thought to mind. It’s defined through your relationship with Me. Of course. Here I am trying to figure it all out, on my own, in my own strength, looking for an answer when the answer is simply: Him. I don’t have to figure it out, that’s what makes Him God. The miraculous mystery of His grace and love, undeserved, but lavishly given. To be enjoyed not questioned, worn, not wary, and accepted no matter the circumstances.
I pray you also find that grace and perhaps skip the part where you think you have to earn it. Let my experience free you from the burden of learning the hard way and perhaps compel you to join me in the pursuit of perfect love.
Over the past few years as I’ve become open about my struggle with food addiction, overcoming insecurity, and finding freedom a kind of personal ministry has evolved. I’ve had the privilege of speaking into other’s lives, mostly because I’m a little farther down the path–that is all. I do not pretend to have the answers. All I have is my own experience and what I have learned on this journey, and my prayer is that God can use my story, insight, and experience to help others find freedom. That is all I ever want.
I learned early on that I am a stubborn kind of girl. I have a thread of rebellion running through my personality like a snagged string that threatens to unravel the entire sweater. (I don’t even like sweaters.) But that’s exactly what this streak of defiance does to me. Unravels. Sabotages. Destroys. God also knows this about me, and he wants me to grow out of the prideful stubborn heart that tends to hold me back. Maybe you can relate. If you call yourself a Christian, Christ-follower, Jesus-lover or any other name to describe a person who follows the teachings of Jesus, than you can relate. He talks about this in His Book. He calls it the sin nature.
You see, God is most concerned that we become HOLY. Like Him. It is His chief concern. When we are not, he uses things in our lives to sharpen, strengthen, prune, and reveal the things keeping us from that holiness. (This is called Sanctification. The process of becoming holy. After we have received Jesus as savior (that’s called justification) our journey of sanctification can begin. Justification is already done for us, but sanctification, takes our participation to make happen.
So you might wonder, “Why do I struggle with this?” and “this” could be anything from obesity and food addiction, to marital problems, joblessness, illness, grief over a death, parenting, self-doubt, insecurity, insignificance, or any of the other woes we find ourselves walking through in this fallen, broken world. Does God cause these things? No. But He uses them.
For me, he knows food, exercise and weight are the best tools to train me in righteousness. He knows my lack of consistency, procrastination and general laziness are places I need to grow out of in my process of sanctification. Other people who do not struggle with weight or food addiction will have their own struggles as mentioned above, and each struggle will be in line with their areas of weakness. God also allows this so that we will not be able to do what He knows we will want to do and that is try and figure it out on our own, without Him.
God won’t give us the easy way out. He loves us too much. He is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. He would rather our character be strengthened than just give us what we want. He’s a good father. He wants to teach us, change us, transform us… And he knows this can happen through our frustrations. He knows this is most often when we turn to him for help. When nothing else seems to be working.
When we decide not to participate in our journey of sanctification, and ignore the issues in our lives, we stay stagnant. When we do this it is a deliberate choice not to mature in Christ. It is a deliberate choice not to step toward God and where he is leading us. The enemy loves this, by the way, because there is nothing less threatening to Satan than a stagnant Christian, stuck in their own stubborn pride. They have no power there, no influence, no real life.
But Jesus has come that we may have life and have it to the full. To get that life we have to be willing participants in our own transformation. He won’t just take all our struggles away and give us what we want, but He does give us opportunities to learn and grow through those struggles. He wants us to work with Him toward real heart change. It is in the work of inward change, that outward change will not only happen, but will last.
Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Are we alone? No! The good news is to get to this place of sanctification we’ll need Jesus and lot of Him and you know what? It turns out, He’s actually the greatest gift of all. He’s the one our hearts really longed for all along. We thought it was an easy life, a struggle-free existence, money in the bank, flat stomaches, a great marriage, no problems, but those are just reflections of a much deeper longing we have within: Being known for who we really are. Knowing and loving ourselves for who He says we are. Being loved by Him, and loving Him in return.
My heart LONGS for each person reading this to find that level of surrender to Him. When you do, you’ll know true freedom and the effort of this life will come from an indescribable power rising from within your soul. The very Holy Spirit–who communes with Jesus all the time–giving us the power, patience, and fortitude to continue our transformation one day at a time.
Anytime I shared a blog, a piece of writing meant for encouragement, or news about how my latest ventures were going, I would fearfully wonder if others would pass me off as a shameless self-promoter bragging about my accomplishments. This fear kept me from writing or creating anything new which made me feel purposeless, insignificant and ineffective in my gifts and calling as a writer.
Then I realized the only reason I feared people’s judgment was because I, myself, judged others too harshly. Ultimately, I had to lay down that judgment and fear if I wanted to keep creating.
God spoke to me quite clearly one morning during my Jesus time, as I was complaining about all this. He said, “You’re not promoting yourself, or your message. You’re promoting Me and Mine.”
I was giving myself too much credit and that was causing fear to hold me back from something God was calling me to do. When I got out of my own way I began to see much more clearly what I needed to do.
Do you know when the fear of what people think goes away? It’s when you do the thing He’s asking you to do. Not before. Not during… but after you’ve obeyed. That fear will always be there until you step out in faith and obedience to the calling He’s given you.
So, if there’s something He’s asked you to do don’t let the fear of what others think hold you back. You have no idea the blessings on the other side of obedience.
Below is an article I wrote for Paramount Business Coach blog and website.
The word alone elicits feelings close to shame, self-doubt, and embarrassment. Feelings we like to pretend aren’t there. But over the last several years, as I have observed, researched, and uncovered all I could about this word Insecurity, for my book In_Security: Break Free from what Holds You Back, I’ve discovered everyone struggles with some form of insecurity or another. It is not gender specific, age specific, or career specific. It is a human problem, manifesting itself in as many different ways as the individuals it infects.
It is fascinating to me, really. All the different facets that come from such a universal feeling that most are unwilling to talk about. And why are we unwilling to discuss it? Because of insecurity. We don’t want to look weak. We don’t want to admit that, we too, have moments of doubt, fear, and uncertainty. This might ruin our reputation. People might not take us seriously. After all, we’re taught that “positive thoughts breed positive action” and while that may be true, complete avoidance of our insecurities may not be the answer. Through much of my research I have discovered a surprising, yet helpful fact about our greatest insecurities.
“The path to your greatest impact is often through your greatest insecurity.”
I’ll share from my own journey. I’ve struggled for years feeling insecure about writing. Not just writing, but sharing my writing with others. Putting myself out there for acceptance or for ridicule. Because of this, I remained in a state of apathetic complacency, swatting away the gentle reminders to use the gift I had been given, convinced it was worthless. I knew for ten years I was supposed to write a book—not only a book—but a book about overcoming insecurity. The ironic thing is I was insecure about writing a book about insecurity! So I put it off. For ten years. Doing nothing also left me empty. Not only empty, but feelings of self-contempt continued to increase for the constant procrastination and waste of precious time and talent. I didn’t know what was worse: Facing the fear of completing, publishing and marketing the book, or living with regret. I finally started writing, and I can tell you from experience, facing the fear is the way to go.
Along this journey, many others have confirmed the same feelings as they’ve shared their insecurities with me. Is it possible that the very thing holding us back could be the launchpad of a great calling we’re too afraid to step into? Could our insecurities be an indicator of the path we need to take?
We could say it like this: insecurity is the neon sign that points to a life of purpose, freedom, and fulfillment. The more insecure and fearful you are about that path reveals just how important it is that you take it. We just have to fight our way past the insecurity that threatens to leave us stagnant.
Here are three things to watch for as you embark on your own fight to overcome the insecurity holding you back from your greatest impact.
Your personal self-regard will reflect in every interaction you have. The way you think about yourself will teach, inform, and direct others to think about you the same way. The problem with this, is oftentimes, we are riddled with self-doubt, fear, and insecurity when faced with a risk we want to take. We want others to believe in us, but we first must believe in ourselves. Do you want to know a great way to have a better self-regard? Do the things you say you’re going to do. Not just the promises you make to others. Keep the promises you make to yourself. That’s where the real test of self-integrity is given and where positive self-regard will grow. Have a phone call you need to make? Put it on your calendar and make it. That idea you’ve been sitting on? Get the prototype going. The thing on your list you are most afraid of? Do it first. Taking small steps to keep the promises you make to yourself will help foster personal trust. If you can trust yourself that you’ll do what you know you need to do, you’ll be unstoppable.
What Will People Think?
This fear is deep-rooted in our human desire to be accepted and most of the time we tend to avoid moving forward if there is a chance of rejection or judgement. What if I fail? What if this idea doesn’t work? What if they say no? What will people think if…? The great news is: people don’t think about you. Do you want to know why? They are too worried about themselves to put any real emotional energy into thinking about you. And even if they do think or speak negatively about you, it’s most likely because you’re doing something they aren’t doing and they misplace personal resentment into negative jealousy. Holding yourself back based on a fear of what others think is a waste of time and a trap designed to keep you from moving forward. Recognize it, and walk through it.
Whether we agree or not on the existence of a Higher Being, a Master Creator, Mother Earth, the Power Within, or God, I know we can all agree that we have an enemy working against us. I call it a spiritual enemy because I believe in God and the spiritual realm that’s waging war in the unseen. Steven Pressfield simply calls it Resistance—the enemy within, who, by the way “is always lying and always full of shit.” If you have ever dreamed of becoming more than you are, you have experienced Resistance. It’s that little voice inside (or big voice, depending on how good we’ve gotten at ignoring it) that wants to take us out.
What insecurity holds you back? What is keeping you from taking the next step in your journey, business, dream or life? Is it any wonder you feel uncertain, cautious, or doubtful in your approach to this sensitive issue? There is so much working against you. Our enemy knows your potential and fears what could happen if you not only knew your greatest calling, but walked in it confidently. Why do you think he works so hard to make you feel incompetent, unqualified, fearful, or even undeserving? So you’ll avoid the work.
So, maybe you don’t believe in the devil, but you know the Resistance I’m talking about. Think about it. Oftentimes, it is the unknown that makes us feel unsure or insecure. It is the risk that makes us fearful. Most of the time when we’re faced with insecure feelings our instinct is to back-track or avoid those situations or talk ourselves out of what we know we need to do. If we but understood the path to our greatest calling is often through our greatest insecurity, we could plunge headfirst into that destiny, knowing that great blessing is waiting on the other side.