By Judith Tay, Jacob’s Well (Working Adults Community)
Insecure, fearful, people-pleasing – these are just some of the words that I would use to describe myself during my growing up years.
From as young as I can remember, my physical appearance always bothered me. I constantly struggled with insecurities about the way I looked. Whenever I looked into the mirror, all I could see were imperfections, inadequacies, and flaws that I despised. These made me feel like I was “not good enough” and that “nobody liked me”; these ultimately became the negative scripts that repeatedly played in my mind, and eventually formed my identity.
In primary school, I often found myself shuffling between “friend” groups and trying to be accepted by any group who wanted to “take me in”. At the same time, I remember often being ridiculed and laughed at for my appearance, just because I was less agile and sporty. Because of this, I felt a greater need to prove to my classmates and to myself that I could be “sporty” too and decided to join a sports CCA. Over the years, I somehow felt a great sense of achievement, and felt that it was something I could shove in people’s faces whenever they ridiculed me for my lack of physical abilities.
Fast forward to secondary school, I continued to strive very hard for academic and sports excellence. Eventually, my identity became rooted in my achievements in these areas, and whenever I did not do well, I would feel like a failure and despised myself for not being able to perform up to my own expectations. I would often beat myself up for my poor performances and loathed myself for “never being good enough”.
In my desperate attempt to remain “wanted”, I found myself having to keep up with this façade of being a “cool kid” even as I entered JC life. At that point, continuing this façade meant that I had to give in to peer pressure. I eventually gave in to a life of social smoking, drinking, clubbing, and finding “love” in the wrong people and places, and my life continued like this until my encounter with God.
It was when I had my first true encounter with God at one of OYP’s Combined University Retreats (CUR) that for the first time in my life, I was able to experience the immense and unconditional love of God the Father. God met me where I was – in my brokenness, shame, and feelings of inadequacy. He comforted me and gifted me with His friendship. He also gave the Grace to see myself in the way that He views me. I came to a realization that I could find my self-worth and identity in God, and that I do not have to rely on other people to make me feel loved or wanted. Experiencing God’s love not only allowed me to receive the inner healing that I had always desired, but also allowed me to learn to slowly love myself, and to accept that this is who He made me to be.
Although it is still a continuous journey, and there are still some days when my insecurities creep up or when I don’t feel good about myself, I am constantly reminded by the Lord to always claim the truth that I am significant, worthy, adequate, and very much loved in the eyes of the Father; even if the whole world does not think so. Previously, I would also always get very easily affected by people’s opinions of me and was afraid of judgment, and I always found it a challenge to say no to people even when I felt like the request was beyond me or not aligned with my own values. But I have come to understand that only God’s opinion of me matters and that is all that I really should care about.
It is still a daily battle to fight my insecurities, fears and doubts, but I have seen the saving hand of God working mysteriously but powerfully in my life, and He assures me through constant reminders that I continue to be worthy of His saving grace.
“I run to the Father
I fall into grace
I’m done with the hiding
No reason to wait
My heart needs a surgeon
My soul needs a friend
So I’ll run to the Father
Again and again
And again and again”
Indeed, I am convinced that the Father’s saving work is not yet completed in my life, and that He continues to invite me to run back to Him again, and again. What about you, my brothers and sisters – Does your heart need a surgeon? Does your soul need a friend? Do you desire to receiving the Father’s grace? Will you run to the Father again, and again?
God met me where I was – in my brokenness, shame, and feelings of inadequacy. He gave me the Grace to see myself in the way that He views me. I found my self-worth and identity in God. I learnt to slowly love myself, and accept myself for who He made me to be. He transformed me from an insecure, fearful, people-pleasing girl, into a more confident, courageous, and God-fearing woman. It is still a daily battle to fight my insecurities, fears and doubts, but I am convinced that His saving work is not yet completed in my life.