At some point in life, every woman struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, and I love the honesty with which my friend Kayla Aimee shares about those feelings that she has felt in each season of life. I met Kayla in a hotel hallway where she showed me pictures of her beautiful daughter on my phone, which was so endearing. She has a wonderful sense of humor, which has a way of disarming us so that the Holy Spirit can use her words to put salve on the injured parts of our souls. It is an honor to welcome Kayla to the front porch of the farm today…
My shoes were all wrong.
Black Mary Janes with wide straps, they betrayed me with their sparkly sequins, catching the light from the classroom windows and reflecting it back on row upon row of matching white tennis shoes with three-and-a-half-inch rubber heels.
I slid down further in my seat, tucking my toes under my backpack as a faint blush crept over my cheeks.
Maybe no one would notice.
I glanced around furtively to assess the footwear situation of the rest of my classmates.
White, chunky-heeled platform tennis shoes, white tennis shoes, white tennis shoes. What was this, gym class? Did everyone assume we’d be doing first serves instead of first period today?
As I surveyed the sea of white platform heels, the most popular girl in our grade caught my eye, glancing down at the floor where I was self-consciously attempting to wedge my feet further under my backpack to hide my obviously uncool footwear choices.
She smirked and bent her head close to the girl next to her, her chestnut brown hair swaying as she tilted her head in my direction.
Thick and glossy, with artfully arranged butterfly clips across the crown as though it was meant to look casual but must have taken all morning to pin in place, her hair fell across her face, blocking her from view but not quite muffling the sounds of the two of them giggling.
How did everyone even know what shoes to buy anyway? I mean, was there some sort of seventh-grade girl newsletter that circulated during the summer? “To be considered cool, buy these shoes”?
I had been trying hard to prepare for junior high.
First, I convinced my mom to let me buy all those teen magazines (okay, so I hid some in the cart and snuck them on the conveyor belt when she wasn’t looking), and then I mapped out elaborate charts with the coolest outfits I could afford on my meager babysitting salary.
Like a vision board. I saw that on Oprah. I took a copy of Seventeen with me when I was shopping for a back-to- school wardrobe that should have made the cute boy in homeroom notice me.
I blew basically my entire budget on those sequined Mary Janes in Delia’s, as seen on page forty-three. They were supposed to be THE thing that year. And okay, they totally did make my legs look longer.
But apparently, they were not the “Must Have Item for School” like the September issue promised because, hello! White tennis shoes with three-inch heels. Where was THAT piece of information, Seventeen magazine? Those magazines were full of lies. No one even tried to kiss me by my locker either. I’m probably going to sue.
The bell rang, and as I gathered up all my books to leave, I felt a hard shove from behind, then blushed again as I bent to pick up the scattered contents of my Sanrio pencil box from the floor.
Popular Girl smirked down at me as she passed. “Loser,” she hissed, and then tossed her head and laughed as she flounced off in her white, chunky-heeled tennis shoes.
I reached out and caught that word as it hung in the air between us. I absorbed its weight, and it quickly made a home in me.
I didn’t know who I was yet, but I knew that this word had correctly defined me. This one moment reflected back all the insecurities I already had about myself, which meant it must be true.
And so I believed it easily, without question.
Maybe you are like me.
Maybe someone else’s words have reduced you.
Maybe you’ve been made to feel invisible or inferior or inadequate or ashamed.
Shame is like Stockholm syndrome. It holds us hostage, and after a while we subconsciously embrace it because it’s become our method of survival.
Shame is our captor, and we were never meant to be held captive.
We were meant to be captivated. God promises to restore the years the locusts have eaten, avows in Isaiah that “in place of your shame, you will have a double portion” (61:7).Our entire covenant is based on redemption. And the Bible holds the blueprint to interrupt our insecurity. The good news is in the Good News.
You can only get two chapters into the Word before it comes spilling out, “Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame” (Gen. 2:25). This is how life began, in our Eden, naked and unashamed.
This is more than a longing; this is how we were created to be. This is the divine design of our humanity, that we would live with one another uncovered and unburdened.
Shame strips us of our confidence. It ensnares us with its subtle lies, leaving us longing and lonely.
Somewhere along the way I collected all the tiny moments of hurt and embarrassment and insecurity, and I decided they comprised who I was.
I was like a sieve.
All the good things and encouraging words passed through me like water, leaving only the muck behind.
I felt worse than invisible: I felt insignificant. And like many women I know, I buried the beauty that was uniquely knit into me by my Creator when He formed me “in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13).Shame keeps us striving for acceptance, but grace gives us an eternal belonging.
I opened up the Bible along with my heart and went through a metamorphosis of spiritual renewal.
I thought that I couldn’t be happy unless everyone else was happy with me —
but I’ve learned that someone else’s measure of satisfaction is not greater than God’s portion of sanctification.
It’s not that life got easier.
It’s just that now I’m fulfilled because I have found my portion.
This is how I learned to flourish.
Kayla Aimee is a writer, mother and a spirited southern girl who spends her days uncovering hope and humor in unexpected places. Her poignant but humorous storytelling style has firmly established her as an influential faith and family blogger and her work has been featured on The TODAY Show and The Huffington Post as well as several other national media outlets.
Her newest book, In Bloom: Trading Restless Insecurity for Abiding Confidence, will help you rewrite the narrative of insecurity and inadequacy that you have experienced, exchanging it for abiding confidence in the One who holds it all together.
In this fearless, funny, and refreshingly relatable chronicle of her own metamorphosis from the insecurity that once held her captive, author Kayla Aimee unfolds the blueprint for women to identify the deep-seated sources of our assumed inadequacy and replace them with steadfast truths of affirmation and replace our need for approval with the promise of an enduring acceptance.
[ Our humble thanks to B&H for their partnership in today’s devotion ]