My friend and I were talking about children we knew. Why, she wondered, was one little girl so set on gaining attention and earning favor, while her playmates seemed completely secure? The girls’ personalities are as diverse as their family backgrounds are equivalent. What made the difference in one who begged for approval and three others independent enough to risk walking away from a friend?
Something dawned on me during the conversation. Neither of us had noted up to that point that every one of those playmates was the baby of the family. Of course! my friend agreed. Babies of the family naturally believe that everyone adores and dotes on them. They rarely have a need to grasp for outside approval.
The conversation stirred something deep within me. I had another dear friend tell me a few years ago, “You don’t need to do things so people will love you. You are a lovable person just by being you.”
I doubt I’d be considered an insecure person by most. I’ve always known that my dad adored me even if the rest of the world didn’t appreciate me, and I’m certainly capable of standing on principle. Yet I am a pleaser by nature. I worry what people think, or what will happen if I don’t please them. As a child I was so shy I wanted to hide from strangers - and I have always felt that every relationship I had was completely my responsibility to maintain. I don’t share friends well because I always fear I will lose them.
Age and maturity have brought me to a point of acknowledging my own insecurity, of acknowledging its roots (pride), of acknowledging that it is a lack of trust that God is doing a good work. As I finished the book Boundaries I realized just how often that same insecurity, albeit on a much grander scale, drives broken lives. How, then, is insecurity overcome?
Philippians 2 states, “Who (Jesus) being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (v. 6-8)
Jesus had no insecurity. In fact, He was so secure that He could leave the ultimate in relationship, the ultimate in comfort, KNOWING that He would be completely rejected and that He would lose even His relationship with the Father for a time (Matt. 27:46).
Yet - Jesus did not grasp at that equality. He did not work to keep or earn position or pride. He was able to take a “risk,” losing His reputation. He knew that God HAD highly exalted Him, that at His name, one day, every knee would bow (Phil 2:9-11). Jesus’ security was in God’s plan of grace, knowing that in the end, He would be where He belonged. Like a youngest child, Jesus knew He was the center of His Father's world.
Perhaps youngest children have a human advantage, a mindset into which they are “born.” Obviously, even knowing that I, just like Jesus! had a loving Father wasn’t quite enough to settle the part of me that grasped for approval.
God has quieted me, however, as He has spent the last six or so years teaching me of His grace. He has called me Child, thanks to Jesus the Firstborn, has adored and blessed me, has forgiven me, and has used me even when I know I’ve failed. He’s taught me that it’s OK to say no, that His favor does not require that I earn the rest of the world’s, that I cannot control circumstances to perfection. And He is teaching me now to share my friends, to know that if a relationship is based on grace, it is secure; if I must fear loss, perhaps it is best to lose. Why? Because one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord - only that matters.
It is resting in grace - the grace that God did not love me for my righteousness, or for my uprightness of heart or because I was more than any people (Deut. 7:8, 9:5), but because He chose me, He created, He redeemed (Psalm 139, I Peter 1). And if I really believe that, if I really believe He is God and I really believe Jesus was the firstborn and I am the beloved “baby of the family,” and I really believe His ultimate plan is the same as it was when Jesus died on the cross - if I really believe Him, then I don’t need to make my decisions based on what someone else might do or think or say. I don’t need to live in fear or worry or insecurity. I can trust. GRACE.