Monday, October 8, 2012

Inspired by Insecurity

Prompted by a question from the study of Renee Swope's A Confident Heart. What is the earliest memory of doubting yourself or feeling insecure?

Growing up, my grades in Physical Education classes were mainly A’s and B’s. I would consider myself fairly athletic. The only exception was in the area of gymnastics. And yet, somehow, when I was in my preteen years, I got it into my head that taking a gymnastics class would be a good idea.  Maybe it was because I watched in amazement as my friend, Nicole, twisted, spun and flipped with ease. Maybe it was because I didn’t like getting an average grade in gym class. Whatever the reason, I was going to give this sport that was nothing but uncomfortable for me a shot.

Mom purchased me a black and white leotard with tights for the class. Although this outfit may have helped me look more the part of a gymnast, it did little to turn my lack of confidence. And it didn’t help matters much that due to my lack of experience, I was the only (or at least one of the few) older girls grouped with elementary children.

The gym we entered into was dimly lit and I was anything but comfortable with this enrichment experience. Insecurities continued to threaten my attempts to broaden my skills. Now, I’ll admit that my memory of this moment is a little fuzzy. However, the tears and distress that came when I was informed of the class’ “no tights” rule are difficult to shake from my mind. The ensemble I donned, creating the only sliver of assurance that I would be able to learn anything from this class, suddenly became bigger than the task at hand.

My mom escorted me upstairs to the locker room where I would submit to the rules. Removing the covering on my legs accentuated the high-cut of the leotard and I could hardly mask my disappointment. Tears burned my eyes as insecurities escalated the anxiety of the situation. Any thread of poise I had remaining quickly unraveled. My hopes of ever being able to execute a cartwheel, or even a simple forward roll, were shattered.

I was left in tears and darkness (with the awkward glare of my white thighs seen by my eyes alone) as I stared at a balance beam. The way my height and age towered over the tiny little females I had been grouped with consumed my thoughts. I couldn’t escape the insecurities that mounted one after the other after the other. My uncertainties eventually formed a barrier that kept me from learning the simplest gymnastics moves.

My P.E. teacher was gracious enough to give me a C for my efforts in the gymnastics unit in junior high. Despite the hours of practice to music I put in to my floor mat routine, hesitancies kept me from utilizing the song which may have improved my grade. It’s funny how the privacy of my own bedroom brought about confidence one moment that couldn’t carry over in front of the class of my peers. Gymnastics just wasn’t a sport I would ever be any good at.

As I fast forward to my adult years, God has blessed me with three little girls to bring up for Him. When I’m asked to help them execute a cartwheel I simply inform them that I just don’t know how. They are disappointed and honestly, I’m a bit let down myself. My desires of being a little girl, wanting to flip and roll like so many others, aren’t an all-too-distant memory.

Recently, I watched in amazement as my nieces twisted and twirled in beautifully executed round-offs on a gymnastics floor. My daughters were hesitant to join in on the fun of their cousin’s birthday party because they lacked the confidence. Memories transported me back to myself as a little girl paralyzed by fear and insecurity. I desire so much more for my daughters.

While I couldn’t encourage my children with any advice on technique, I was determined to embrace this teachable moment. Sucking up my pride, I displayed my lack of skill in an attempt to inspire my girls. Following suit, they participated with smiles on and gave it their best shot. While gymnastics may not be a sport this household will excel in, I hope my children have escaped a self-inflicted scar caused by insecurity.

TRUTH: “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

TRUTH: “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.” (Jeremiah 17:7)

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