Have you ever met someone and experienced an instant connection? I felt that way as I sat across from Sharon Miller at a meeting recently. When she introduced herself, I found out that she has a book releasing this month, and when I read this post, I realized I had to share with you. Y’all she’s our sister from another mister! Another woman on the journey to break up with perfect.
Make sure to read to the end and leave a comment for the giveaway. Her publisher is generously donating three copies of her new book, so your chances of winning are terrific! Please welcome Shannon!
Several years ago I found myself in a surprising situation. I was a lifelong Christian, growing in my faith, and following God’s call into ministry. I was writing and speaking and teaching women about the Bible, and from the outside everything looked easy and great.
Except that it wasn’t.
On the inside, I had become increasingly fragile and insecure. I wasted loads of mental energy on comparing, striving, and clamoring for affirmation. I needed to be seen, I needed to succeed, and I needed to be the best. And as a result, it sucked the joy right out of my life, even the joy of my calling.
Once I diagnosed the problem, I set about the work of fixing it. Like many Christian women, I devoured books on insecurity. I read blog posts and articles, listened to sermons and podcasts, and I meditated on my identity in Christ. I did all the “right Christian things,” but at the end of it all, I realized something:
None of it helped.
All of those messages, and all of that truth, had barely even scratched the surface. It’s not that I struggled to believe God’s promises—that I am loved, rescued, and delighted in—because I believed them whole-heartedly. Instead, something else was going on underneath my insecurity, and it took me several years to figure it out.
The Two Causes of Insecurity
Over time, through a lot of prayer and discernment, I discovered there are two root causes of insecurity. The first is one we talk about all the time: low self-esteem. We can define low self-esteem as an inability to see ourselves as God sees us, and it is real and painful, and God has an answer for it: His truth.
When we struggle with degrading lies about who we are, we can run to biblical truth about God and about ourselves. We can also surround ourselves with truth speakers who can declare God’s love into our hearts, especially on those days when we are unable to believe it ourselves. This is, in fact, how Christians usually attend to insecurity, and it’s important.
However, there is a second cause of insecurity that we almost never talk about, which is self-preoccupation. Self-preoccupation places you at the center of everything, which means everything hinges on you, and everything is ABOUT you. Your parenting, your job, that woman who looked at you funny in the lobby—it’s all a referendum on your value and your worth. And as a result, the stakes become impossibly high.
When everything is somehow about you, then your security constantly hangs in the balance.
But here is the trick about self-preoccupation: the solution to it is different than low self-esteem. If you respond to self-focus with heaps of affirmation—even biblical affirmation—it only reinforces the problem. Even when your self-focus is positive and godly, your vision is still locked on something inherently insecure—yourself—instead of fixing your gaze on the rock of Christ.
That was my problem. My self-esteem wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t really the problem.
My problem was my focus.
I wasn’t enjoying the freedom and confidence of living for Christ, because I wasn’t living for Christ. I was living for me. My eyes were fixed on me. My marriage, my parenting, my appearance—even my faith—had slowly turned inward, and I had become the center of it all.
I think it’s time to name this brokenness in our culture and in ourselves. For many of us, the cause of our insecurity isn’t simply low self-esteem, but a misplaced focus on self. We have forgotten the center of the gospel, which has taken all the power out of it. Our faith has grown small and weak, because it isn’t about God, but us.
The answer, then, is not simply remembering who we are in Christ, but also remembering that we are not the center of the story. Everything in our lives—everything that we have, that we are, and that we are called to—is all meant to point away from us and toward the glory of God. And once we get this, and live it, it’s freedom.
Adapted from Sharon’s newly released book, Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not about You.
To enter to win a copy of Free of Me, leave a comment sharing your response to Sharon’s powerful insight. If you’re living life on the fly, simply say, “I’m focused on Christ!” (US and Canada addresses only please. Sorry about that to my peeps who live on another continent! I love you dearly!!)
Sharon Hodde Miller is an author, speaker, pastor’s wife, PhD, and mom. She is a regular contributor to She Reads Truth and Propel, she blogs at SheWorships.com, and she is the author of Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not about You.