Shattering Our Glass Box — Moving Past Fear of Rejection

Woman sitting by herself in a coffeehouseOut of all the fears we women face, our fear of rejection can be the most debilitating. It hinders our relationships, steals our joy and peace, and can keep us from pursuing the dreams and plans God has for us. I’ve yet to meet a woman who in some way doesn’t struggle with this and who, beneath her fear, hasn’t battled some degree of self-loathing. I’m not sure we’ll ever overcome our insecurities completely this side of heaven, but as my guest and dear friend, Susan Aken, reveals, there’s hope! W can live bold and brave!

Living in a Glass Box

By Susan Aken

As an extremely shy, introverted, and fearful youth I often retreated into my easily controlled fantasy world. I was reluctant to open up or talk to people or didn’t know how. I’d sit in a high school classroom and fantasize about putting a glass box around myself. A place where I could read, observe, or do what I wanted unseen by others.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t a fantasy. I succeeded but my hiding resulted in the reverse of what I thought. I put myself in a box that blinded me to others. I shut myself away so I became almost unreachable.

I escaped into a self-protective mindset that caused me to avoid eye contact, especially with strangers and to engage in non-committal conversations. It caused me, as someone once told me, to be “like a knight in impenetrable armor.” I felt safe in that armor. I could look out and determine when and where to let someone in. The problem is I isolated myself and prevented others from knowing me. I developed the habit of keeping people at an emotional distance.

Thankfully, God began to open my eyes in my early twenties and He’s been helping me since to graphic with words describing who we are in Christlearn. I’m in my sixties and continue to see what I’ve reaped from that box. I still avoid eye contact with strangers and honestly have to be intentional about looking friends in the eye.

I’ve come a long way since high school and I’ve had some great moments over the years of opening up to others. But, I’m still learning and always will be. The awesome news is my heavenly Father loves me exactly as I am and always has. But He also loves me enough to help me change.

The grace of Jesus Christ covers every moment I  shut someone out, though I still reap consequences. His love for me is eternal and secure. In spite of my weaknesses I have a husband and a son who love and respect me, and many faithful friends and loved ones.

My prayer is that my Father will help me take a sledgehammer and smash the rest of that glass box and crush the armor to pieces.

Is it possible I can live being who I am and stop trying to manage perceptions or keep people at a distance? No one can live perfectly open and free. Hey, we’re human! But with the help of Jesus, I’m learning to walk freely knowing He loves me as I am, knows all my sin and weakness, has already covered them on the cross, and has called me to walk in freedom.

And when I’m tempted to retreat, I can remember Psalm 32:7, which says, “You” God “are my hiding place…” (NIV)*

I don’t need a box, a suit of armor or any other self-protective stance.

God is my hiding place.

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Let’s talk about this! Do you struggle with insecurities or fear of rejection? If so, what’s helped you move past that? What truth (regarding who you are in Christ or how He feels about you) most encourages or comforts you? Share your thoughts and suggestions with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another. And if you’re local, make sure to come to our next Bold and Brave conference hosted by Bethany Lutheran in Elkhorn. Register by 9/22 for a discounted, early bird price! (You can find out more and register HERE.)

Contact me HERE to schedule your own Wholly Loved conference or to have one of our speakers join you for your next women’s event.

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Get to know Susan!

Susan Aken's author photo. Susan is a homemaker, substitute teacher, and writer. She lives in Nebraska but was born and raised in Oklahoma. Her greatest love is for the Lord Jesus Christ who has redeemed her and set her free. Her other loves are her husband, son, and daughter-in-law to be. Susan enjoys reading, photography, spending time with family and friends, writing, and sitting down with a cup of tea. She has a heart for prayer ministry and loves her church!

Visit her online HERE.

Overcoming Insecurity

Maria Looking UpI am becoming increasingly aware of how incredibly prideful I am,  and how isolating pride can be. I doubt I’m alone in this. We live in a culture where strength and independence are valued and weakness disdained. And I suspect, we often assume expectations and perceive judgement when none exists. Or maybe when it does, because we live in a fallen world filled with sinful, broken humans. That’s why our worth must never be tied to other’s opinion of us, and yes, I’m speaking to myself. 🙂 As my guest, Maria Morgan, author of God Speaking, reminds us, there’s only one opinion that matters.

The Only Opinion that Matters by Maria Morgan

Are you easily swayed by popular opinion? It can be traced back to a strong desire to be accepted. I have to admit it’s easy for me to fall into the acceptance trap.

If I had to identify its root cause, I’d say: insecurity. The dictionary defines ‘insecurity’ as: “A state of mind characterized by self-doubt and vulnerability,” (Encarta Dictionary).

I’ve noticed insecurity rising to the surface when I begin focusing on myself and what others think of me. Maybe you’ve noticed it in yourself, too. Fortunately, we don’t have to be controlled by the need for approval.

A mission

I’m reminded of twelve men who were sent on an important mission. Moses had commissioned one man from each of the tribes of Israel to scope out the land of Canaan. Imagine the excitement of these men as they stood poised to enter the Promised Land, following years of wandering in the wilderness.

Their job was to get a good look at the land and the people who lived there. It was no small task – in fact they were gone for forty days. The children of Israel must have gasped in amazement when the men returned with a cluster of grapes so big it had to be carried on a pole between 2 men.

Different viewpoints

The land was everything God had said it would be: a land flowing with milk and honey. But 10 of the spies focused on Mariasimagethe current occupants of the land. They were giants that were very strong. They lived in cities surrounded by impenetrable walls. How would the Israelites be able to take the land when they were mere grasshoppers in comparison?

Popular opinion was having an effect on the people. But instead of going along with the 10 men from their group who had voiced their concerns, Joshua and Caleb expressed faith in a God bigger than their fears. Caleb stilled the people and spoke: “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it,” (Numbers 13:30).

Overcoming insecurity

Just like Joshua and Caleb, we can avoid being swayed by popular opinion when we focus on God instead of ourselves or what others think of us. In the big scheme of things, it’s what He thinks of us that really matters. His approval breaks the chains of insecurity. Be free today.

Do you struggle with insecurity? What step will you take to live for the Lord’s approval, instead of the approval of others?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for loving me even when I wrestle with insecurity. You are bigger than my fears. Help me live for Your approval instead of the approval of others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*Maria I. Morgan is an inspirational writer and speaker and is passionate about sharing the truths of God’s Word with today’s generation. She lives in sunny Georgia with her husband and daughter, two dogs and two cats. Visit her on the web and download a free copy of her eBook, God Speaking.  Connect with  her on Facebook and Twitter!

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this! What areas have you allowed popular opinion to creep in, bringing insecurity with it? How can you center your mind on the truth in God’s Word instead? How might spending time with Him help?

 

 

 

 

 

Must We Love Ourselves to Love Others?

loveLove. Such a confusing, abstract emotion. It’s something we “fall into” and “out of”,  something we chase after…

There’s a notion that says “You must love yourself in order to love others.”

Is this true? Biblical?

I’m no theologian, but I can’t locate a verse that says this. In fact, again and again, God tells us to take the position of a servant, and to honor others above ourselves.

To die to ourselves so we can live for God.

It’s hard to die to something you love.

Perhaps biblical love isn’t so much an emotion as it is an action.

Consider 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

For you see, emotions wane. Therefore, true love must be a choice and an action, the moment-by-moment discipline of laying ourselves aside so that God can love others through us.

The Bible says we love because God first loved us. Therefore, our love comes not from us but from Him. It is when we completely surrender ourselves to God that we are fulfilled. That is when we begin to live lives of passion and purpose, of courage and impact.

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Learning to love is receiving and giving the love only God can give.

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Consider insecurity and fear of rejection and all those negative emotions that supposedly stem from a lack of self-love. What if the opposite is true? What if those emotions stem from love of self and a desire to protect self.
We protect that which we love.

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But when we die to ourselves, there is but one focus, what God would do throughAshleywithElSalvadororphan us. 

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And that is the most freeing occurrence we can experience.

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Let me provide an example. I have a less than glamorous past, and for years, I vehemently longed to hide that past. This fear kept me from embracing God’s call to write for many years. I told Him again and again, “I’ll only write if you protect me from exposure.”

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I’m sure you can imagine God’s response. He knew His grace is best seen when revealed through an imperfect sinner.

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But still I fought Him. I was afraid to tell my story for fear of what others would think and for fear of losing friends. Until I started hanging out with at risk teens and the homeless. Suddenly, I wanted for them to see Jesus and what He could do so badly, I no longer cared about embarrassing or shaming myself. My fear and insecurity went away because I found something more important–the saving of another life.

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The results were glorious, inspiring, fulfilling, because the more I died to myself and lived for God, the more I experienced His all-consuming love pour through me.

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You cannot be fearful, prideful, envious, and insecure when God’s Spirit invades your core. It’s impossible.

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So what does this all mean?

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1. If you want to experience an abundant, joy-filled, peace-saturated life, ask God to help you die to yourself–your fears, desires, pride, insecurities. All of it. Then ask Him to replace those things with His all-consuming love as you follow after Him with surrendered obedience.

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2. Parents, if you want your children to rise above the toxicity of their clique-infested schools, if you want for them to grab hold of a purpose that will propel them forward with a God-given passion, teach them to see others through God-sized lenses and to get involved in His mission. Then sit back and watch them thrive.

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livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Looking back on your journey, when have you felt most fulfilled? What do you think of my take on love? Consider a time when you’ve felt God’s love coursing through you. What were you doing? What did His love motivate you to do?
Share your thoughts in the comments below or at Livng by Grace on Facebook.

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And congrats to Lillianne Kohler! You won a copy of Cara Putman’s novel, Shadowed by Grace! I’ll be contacting you soon to get that book to you.

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