Identity Insecurity

Identity Insecurity

This appearance-driven culture has all but trained people to insult themselves endlessly, but why are we allowing this to define us when we were created out of want, not need?
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I cringe when I hear these oh-so-common words escaping yet another person's lips:

"Wow, I look ugly in that picture."

"Don't post that! I look dumb."

Not only does it make me feel bad for even considering the idea of making public this person's apparent insecurities, but it also makes me increasingly uncomfortable.

It seems as if today's appearance-driven culture is fueled by the amount of times someone can insult themselves in a minute, and, just to be frank, I hate it. I will admit that I was the same way once, and I definitely have days when I feel like an ugly duckling. I sometimes feel like I just want to stay home because no one wants (or needs) to see my curly mop of hair complementing the lack of makeup smeared on my face. Then, once the decision is made to face my irrational fears and go out of my safe, unincorporated community into our slightly more incorporated town, I try on clothing item after clothing item, finding no satisfaction, no solace, and no peace.

This seems to be a problem with this, plain and simple. Pointing out your insecurities is the exact opposite of what should be the norm, right? When you think about it, it just sounds weird to say it is normal to talk about how bad you are. I understand that people are insecure because I, myself, am insecure about a lot of things, but the sticking point is this: why are you pointing out your insecurities? Is it out of humility or out of selfishness?

As a student at a private, Christian school for 14 years, I could probably count on one hand how many lessons have not included a reference to the fact that all humans are sinners, fallen and broken in the eyes of God. I stand firm on the fact that there are no naturally good people because everything that we set our minds on doing is tainted with sin, and the original sin that occurred in the Garden of Eden not only set humanity off on a cycle of sinful acts, but it also led to the introduction of pain, suffering, sadness, and insecurity, among other undesirable things in our lives.

When someone points out their insecurities, it often revolves around a selfish longing for attention, for someone to counter their remark with words of affirmation. Please know that that is not what should be happening. Sure, it is absolutely necessary to know, without a doubt, that we are not perfect. We are utterly broken, bent out of shape, and basically dead without Christ. That is a fact. Acknowledging that and realizing that you are loved even though you do not deserve it allows your relationship with God to be that much sweeter. When you make known the fact that maybe you are not the most attractive, the smartest, or the most coordinated person simply because you are thirsty for attention, however, that is an indication that you are looking for your identity in something that simply is not worth it. People fail. Words fail. God never fails.

I say all that to tell you this: know that you are, without a doubt, lost without Christ, but also know that God created you. That is a privilege in itself. God absolutely did not need humans to complete Him. When God created the heavens and the earth, he did not say to Himself, "Hm, I wonder what could fill this empty hole in my Being? I guess I need someone here with me!" He created humanity out of a love that is unable to be matched by anyone here on earth. He created humanity because He wanted to do it, not because He had to do it.

Whenever I hear someone getting down on themselves because of something they think is wrong with them, I think first that they are just wrong (just so you know, a lot of things you are insecure about are unnoticed by others), and then I think that they could feel so much better if they only saw themselves as the beautifully and undeservedly valued and loved creation of God that they are. I know for a fact that finding your identity not in who you are but in who God has made you brings so much more peace, so much more security, and a much more positive influence on your peers.

I encourage you to live like you have immeasurable value because you do. It is so much more difficult to insult yourself when you know for a fact that, in spite of all the stuff you may think is wrong with you, you were created by God because He wanted you. That just makes all those things you might be insecure about fade away and seem tiny in comparison to the beautifully redeemed identity that children of God are able to find in Him.

Cover Image Credit: Robin Sorrow

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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The Truth About Politics In Religion And How It Affects Our Relationship With God

They don't have to be mutually exclusive.

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It's evident that religion can and has been used in politics from the values of voters and leaders. However, to use your religion or your relationship with God for making political decisions doesn't share the same meaning.

I've always loved finding all the best facts and research for argumentative work but I couldn't pursue that approach for this topic. Why? Because I've experienced the pattern in my relationship with God of how God defies logic.

God can't be contained to a definition or explanation. I liked the way I've heard one leader express that, "If you hear someone trying to explain to God as if he knows then he's a fool before he starts talking". That's a paradox within itself.

I've learned more recently to identify that the two sides of the paradox that you might wrestle with in understanding God are both true. That, yes, His hands are big and He knows exactly what to do to make you surrender but you'll also find no greater love than with Him because He has the biggest heart and knows what you need better than you do.

I think that accepting this paradox will differentiate between those that view politics religiously versus those that view it from 'what is God trying to do here'? The one that focuses on seeking 'what is God trying to do here?' would represent those with a relationship with God. This doesn't mean that referencing the laws of God exempts you from having a relationship but the love of God is the strength that sustains the relationship over the law. This is also a bit of a paradox because they're both important in Christianity.

There's the difference from seeing God as one-sided which is very prideful, limiting and incorrect compared to recognizing that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

I believe that what we believe and how we see God will bring limitations or provision on how we can be used in God's plan for His kingdom on earth when it comes to the way the world is run.

God, our relationship with God and the law of God all have to be considered in the things we do as Christians.

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