No one can make us feel quite as unsure about ourselves as another woman. And nothing can wound as much as the words that sometimes come from a friend or from inside our own head. That’s why (in)courage exists as an online community committed to making safe spaces for women to connect. Every Wednesday this month we’ll be sharing some of our stories of overcoming insecurity in order to choose friendship on purpose. We hope you’ll read along and then join us in a weekly Community Challenge geared toward kicking insecurity to the curb and connecting more deeply with our friends.
Week 2: What If I Can’t Do My Best?
As I was fretting and fussing about an upcoming deadline last week, a friend said to me: “All you can do is your best, you know. So focus on that. Just do your best. That’s all you can do.”
I appreciated his point but still responded with a little sarcasm: “Right. But my parents were terrible people who told me over and over that I could do anything. So unfortunately, the ‘my best’ bar is still set pretty high.”
My words about my parents and their encouragement being terrible were obviously tongue in cheek. But the frustration and fear I felt was not. It’s the same thing I face every day — What if I don’t do my best? What if I don’t live up to my potential? What if my best is not all that great? What if I slack off and mess up and let everyone down?
I remember the scene so vividly. I was sitting on the [closed] toilet, talking to my mom while she stood at the sink. As we discussed the upcoming school year, I worried out loud: “But what if I flunk? Did you or dad ever flunk a grade? What if I do?”
I was five years old and already an anxious little perfectionist.
My mom assured me that I would not fail kindergarten — or, likely, any grades. She told me I was smart and said those wonderful, horrible words about being able to do anything I put my mind to. But even though she was right, and I passed every grade just fine, part of me has been asking ever since: “What if I don’t do well? What if I can’t do my best? What if I mess up?”
Thirty years later, I’m still afraid that the things everyone else seems able to do will escape me, that somehow I’ll drop the ball that can’t be picked up, that I’ll make the mistake that can’t be undone. I’m afraid I’ll mess up, that I’ll shoot way short of the target, that I can’t actually do what everyone assumes is my best.
Clearly, it doesn’t take much to send me flying down that spiral of fear and insecurity. And once I get going even the most reasonable reminders from people who know me and love me can’t stop me. After all, they might know me, but do they know me? Do they know how lazy I really am? How often I’m faking it and barely getting by? Do they have any idea how not-smart, not-kind, not-cool I am? What a big sinner I am? Do they know?
Yeah, it gets ugly up in here. And my reaction to well-meaning friends who are trying to help is not pretty.
Good thing the Truth is full of beauty.
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was His plan from before the beginning of time — to show us His grace through Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 1:9)
God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Nothing can stop me in my crazy, insecure, afraid-they’re-gonna-find-out-I’m-not-good-enough tracks like Scripture. Nothing snaps me out of myself faster than a reminder that I cannot earn God’s love, I cannot earn His approval. But that doesn’t make it okay for me to dismiss the truth that loved ones dare to share.
See, I’ve been on the flip side of this spiral too — and it is frustrating! I’ve been the one who tried to break through the lies and the noise to remind a precious friend how much she’s loved, only to be shrugged off like an embroidered pillow platitude! That hurts. And it keeps me at arm’s length, when all I want to do is stand with her in the darkness until she can see the Light again.
So it’s not right for me to ignore the wise counsel of those who love me, either. Blowing off a gentle reminder because I’m afraid they’ll see how awful I am if I let them get closer just hurts me in the end. It just keeps me from the authentic, Truth-sharing, burden-carrying kind of friendship God designed us to crave.
God created us to live in community because He knew we’d need someone to point us back to Him. So when a friend reminds me that God gave me the tasks in front of me as part of His perfect plan, or that I can’t possibly be good enough or bad enough to change His love, I don’t want to respond with sarcasm and rolled eyes in an effort to protect myself. I want to be the kind of friend who lets someone in, who accepts the love of a friend — and the Truth she shares.
Do you have a hard time accepting Truth from friends?
Won’t you join our community challenge?
Last week we came together and wrote down our insecurities and asked God to begin to reveal His truth about who we are in Him. This week will you join us as we:
- Pray and ask God to bring some truth-telling friends into our lives to speak hope and encouragement over the insecurities we’re struggling with most, and…
- When what they say lines up with what God says about us in Scripture? Let’s believe them!