By Karen Swank
right?” I wanted to pound him into paste.
Every time I praised anyone else in the room, he took it as a personal attack on him – an indirect statement that if it were true about another, it certainly was not true about him. It got harder and harder to like him.
He had a good mom, and one day she called me almost in tears to confront me. Inside that conversation, the ugliness in my heart was revealed to me and I remembered once again that he was just a child, and that it was my job to see both the beauty and the brokenness within him. In her maternal boldness, she rescued me from being just another of the many forces driving the insecurity in him, and we made a turn for the better after that.
Sometimes we think the only face of insecurity is the tentative one, constantly asking to be confirmed. While that face can be frustrating and even irritating, it’s not terribly hard to find a place of compassion for one who openly and desperately begs for continual validation.
But then sometimes insecurity doesn’t settle with asking – sometimes it demands. It persuades its prisoner that everyone else is getting a better deal, and drives a person to smash, squash, and otherwise hurt people in pursuit of feeling less like nothing.
Encountering an insecure person, we are often easily fooled into seeing insecurity as arrogance. After all, the receiving end of bullying is a place that blocks our view of the persecutor’s pain, isn’t it?
We were in the classroom and she was acting out. I was substitute teacher for the day, and her antics were preventing forward progress. Again and again, I gave her “the teacher look” and directed her to be still. At last, she exploded in anger. “Don’t look at me again with your googly eyes, you freak. I hate you!” The low chatter in the classroom rippled with a shocked giggle.
There are fewer forces more malicious than the consensus of a high school classroom that is slipping out of control, and for an instant, I felt the full brunt of her attack. Yeah, my eyes are big, and magnified by high-powered glasses. I had never thought of them as “googly” before – ouch.
But I had grown since those days in the toy room with that insecure boy. With Holy Spirit talking to and through me, I saw through the brick wall of her bravado, past the raging storm of her bad behavior, and there like an enormous flashing neon billboard was her pain, lashing out to destroy everything within reach, in hopes that she might finally stop hurting. This was the face of insecurity.
As quickly as the insult had arisen in me, it died. Her words rolled away, robbed of their power. I looked at her again, and in my chest was a physical ache for her captivity. My prayer was silent, though inside me it was a shout. Father, rescue her! No movie-scene drama followed; we got through the rest of that hour and she left class mad when the bell rang.
She never hated me again after that day – never called me another name. I encountered her in a lot of other classrooms, and the day came that she sought me out to quietly bare her soul. I hadn’t gotten a bit prettier; my eyes were as “googly” as ever. But in them, I think she caught a glimpse of what I could see in her – both the beauty and the brokenness.
I’d love to write here that she was instantly and utterly healed from the pain that drove her, but the truth is she was not. I watched her hurt herself and others on a continual basis, and the last I heard, she was still struggling. Still, I know for sure that in the passage where our lives touched, she heard the whisper of the One who moved in and through me – the One who brushes aside the brokenness that makes her hate herself, and sees the fullness of her beauty.
My ongoing prayer is a celebration that He finishes what He starts. I haven’t seen it yet, but I look forward to seeing her in eternity, finally free from her captivity.
Insecurity holds many captives in the world around you. Today, I invite you to ask Holy Spirit to work in you and through you, to set those captives free.
It costs… but they are worth it.
How about it?
Karen is from Aledo, IL. She went to Monmouth College and studied Latin and English. She is a biological mom of two children and surrogate mom/friend/advocate for a whole host of children. She would like to meet every wounded soul that I’ve she’s ever known… as a child, before the “damage was done” so she could tell them how much they are loved.