When Insecurities Strike

“Words can build you up. Words can break you down. Start a fire in your heart or put it out.” –Hawk Nelson

Recently, a friend said something to me that crushed my heart. That friend didn’t mean to do so, but because the words triggered my past struggle with insecurity, it affected me so much this week. Even though I knew that it was just a joke, I started to believe in the lies in my head and the thoughts distorted my view of God.

During the week, I spent a lot of time pouring my heart out to God and I kept reminding myself of the truth: that God loves me and that my hope and security can only be found in Him. However, despite this, I still felt a huge burden on my heart even while I was asleep. There were times when I would wake up in the wee hours of the morning and feel my heart break again.

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But, by God’s grace, He spoke to me one night while I was writing on my journal. I shared to Him that I think my top love language is “Words”. It fills me whenever people encourage me with words (e.g. in person, through social media or letters, etc.). On the other hand, whenever hurtful words are said to me, my heart cringes.

While I was sharing my feelings and struggle to God, He revealed to me the pride that was lingering in my heart. Why was I so affected by what my friend said? Why do I dwell on what others tell me? Why do I easily get hurt when people intentionally or unintentionally magnify my flaws and weaknesses or compare me to others through their words?

And then, it hit me. My thoughts and feelings were all about me. ME!! Immediately, God humbled me and I confessed the pride in my heart. I also asked God to help me honor Him with my heart and mind. That night, I was reminded that at the end of each day, it doesn’t matter how I compare to the people around me. It doesn’t matter how well I did or didn’t do at work or in my personal activities. It’s not even about how much I’m doing for Christ in ministry. It’s about what Jesus has already done for us. Because of God’s love, Jesus died and rose again to pay for the penalty of our sins, so we could spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

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“Did you hear what I said? Did you read the words I wrote down in red? I was broken once for you and no one loves you like I do.” –‘All the Broken Pieces’ by Matthew West

Nothing should concern me more than my relationship with God. Nothing.

Instead of being affected by what others say to me, God encouraged me to focus on His words and truths found in the Bible. His voice is the only thing we need to hear. Every now and then, I know that I will be tempted to feel insecure. But, I am encouraged by God to keep on remembering who He is in my life. The same God who created the universe and everything in it is the same sovereign and powerful God who can make beautiful things out of ordinary people like you and me. The same God who gave and sacrificed His Son for us is the same loving and gracious God who will continue to love us in spite of our imperfections, struggles, and mistakes.

Whew.

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After going through an emotional roller coaster ride this week, I woke up this morning with a grateful heart because of the hope that I have in Jesus. By His grace, He made today an extra special day for me because my friends from church (the ladies I’m growing with in a discipleship group) surprised me with a pot of flowers and verses to encourage me. They knew that I was struggling this week, so they made a simple but very encouraging effort to help me focus on Jesus again. I loved it so much because it affirmed my decision last night to dwell on God’s truth and His words in the Bible. Aaaaahhhh. You are amazing, God!

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It is my prayer that I may not only seek Him and His words this week, but, that He may also help me say words to the people around me that will edify and encourage them to remember and pursue God as well.

Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Stick to the Truth

My dad picked me up from work a few days ago and we had an interesting conversation on the way home. For some reason, we started reminiscing about our experiences at our old house in Cainta and I shared to him one of my “Cainta moments” that I will never forget.

Last June 21, 2009, my family and I were on our way home from church and I remember feeling so insecure about my physical appearance, my height, my status in life, academics, and many more. But God somehow encouraged me to sing “Here in My Life” by Hillsong and I was comforted by the lyrics of the song. When we reached the house, we realized that we didn’t have the house keys with us! We were stuck inside our garage!

From my journal. Dated 6/9/2009
From my journal. Dated 6/21/2009

After a few minutes, I was tempted to complain about the situation, but God encouraged me to help my family find a way to get in our house instead. My older brother and I snuck into the side garage and saw a small window in our kitchen which wasn’t locked. We then weighed the pros and cons of me going through it and tried to measure my body to see if I could fit. Kuya ended up giving me a lift and I miraculously squeezed myself into the small window. I think the window was as “big” as a piece of bond paper.

From my journal. Dated 6/9/2009
From my journal. Dated 6/21/2009
I couldn't find a nice shot of our kitchen window. This photo was taken after we experienced Ondoy. :)
I couldn’t find a nice shot of our kitchen window. This photo was taken after we experienced Ondoy. :)

We were both laughing as we tried to get my body inside the kitchen because it was actually crazy and funny, but by God’s grace, I was able to make it through! I then ran to the front door, opened it, and called my other siblings and parents. God knew what was going on in my heart a few minutes before we got home and He definitely knew how to encourage me. I was insecure about my petite body, but that day, God showed me that He had a special purpose for it.

From my journal. Dated 6/9/2009
From my journal. Dated 6/21/2009

Through that experience, I was reminded of God’s goodness and grace. I was reminded of how He made each and every one of us the way we are for our good and for His glory. And it was encouraging because it also showed me how our loving and powerful God chooses to use people like you and me to experience His strength and greatness in our lives in spite of our insecurities and weaknesses.

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To this day, I still praise God whenever I remember that moment because I am encouraged to seek and focus on Him whenever I struggle with insecurities. Moreover, God continues to remind me of His amazing love for me through the Bible. His truth written on it immediately changes my perspective, wipes off the lies and negative thoughts that I have, and strengthens my heart even more.

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I was spending time with God and his word earlier today and I noticed that I unintentionally kept a lot of my sticky nametags (from past events) in my Bible. Interestingly, when I saw this, God used it to remind me of my identity in Christ. In this world, I know that I would probably have and encounter more thoughts and lies about my self-worth and security, but, God’s encouraging me to keep on sticking to the truth — to His words in the Bible.

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Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

“You showed me how much You really loved me,
When You bought me at the highest cost

There’s no greater love than this, There’s no greater love than this,
That a man would give his life for a friend;
There’s no higher sacrifice than a man would give his life,
You have paid a precious price for me.”

[Don Moen’s “No Greater Love”]

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Thank You, Jesus, for reminding me to look to You every time I struggle and remember that You died and rose for me, You chose me, You love me unconditionally, and that I am Yours for eternity. Indeed, I need not be insecure, because You are more than enough for me. Jesus, You are more than enough for me. :)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

So, You’re Insecure?

A few days ago, my mom handed me a bunch of overripe bananas. Instead of throwing them away, she wanted me to do something useful with them. When I saw the bananas, my instant thought was “Eew… Mushy, slimy, almost rotten stuff. -_-” However, as I examined them more, I noticed that they were still edible and slightly firm.  So, I decided to give them a try and make banana muffins.

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As I was searching for a nice recipe online, I saw photos about muffins. And to my surprise, it was the first time that I encountered this statement in my life:

“Muffins are just ugly cupcakes.”

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In the photo, we can see how some find cupcakes to be more desirable than muffins, maybe because of the texture or the frosting. But, even in this simple idea, we can see how natural it is for us to compare things, ourselves, or even the people around us.

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Even though it seemed like it was more fun to bake cupcakes, I still proceeded to make a batch of muffins that day. While I was making banana muffins, God reminded me of three things:

1. INSECURITIES & LIES

I first removed the banana peels and other dark spots on the bananas before mashing them in a bowl. The bananas did not look appealing, but, they were the PERFECT ones to use for the recipe because of their natural sweetness and soft texture.

It was so easy for me to look at the appearance of the overripe bananas and show disgust when I first saw them. In the same way, God reminded me of how I’m easily concerned with how I look, what my status/lifestyle is, how much money I have, and other things that last only for a moment. He also reminded me of those times when I’d be insecure. Sadly, I would tend to compare myself to others and choose not to be grateful and satisfied with how He made me and with what He has given me.

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However, I thank God for His encouragement through His word:

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.””

-1 Samuel 16:7

“Anytime we look for fulfillment or happiness in anyone or anything other than God, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.” –Nancy deMoss

2. HUMILITY & THE ULTIMATE SECURITY

While I was baking the banana muffin batter, I began to appreciate the overripe bananas even more. The sweet smell of the vanilla extract and bananas filled the air and I found myself enjoying it.  Once the banana muffins were done in the oven, I immediately placed them in a wire rack to cool down.

But then, I remembered a tip that Alton Brown shared in one of his Good Eats episodes. He suggested that the muffins must be cooled upside down on a thin towel for better volume. I tried doing it and was amazed by what I saw. The muffins looked like they were bowing down. They didn’t look “insecure”. They looked humble.

Humble Muffins

God spoke to my heart and reminded me that being insecure and being proud are inseparable.  I’ve had (and still have) my share of insecurities. But, by His grace, He continues to encourage me to see myself and my situations through His eyes. In the process of doing so, I realize that I shouldn’t be insecure because I know that God loves me and He would only want what’s best for me.

Our security is none other than God Himself. –Pastor Peter Tan-Chi

“Rest in what God thinks about you. He loves you. How do you know He loves you? Remember what Christ did for you on the cross.” –Pastor Vince Burke

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

-Romans 8:28

God works for the good. God loves us. God made us the way we are because He loves us. He is our Ultimate Security. :)

 

3. PURPOSE & DESIGN

After cooling the muffins, I decided to put the finishing touches. :) I invited my eldest sister to help out and we started working on one muffin at a time. It was fun! We ended up using different toppings on half of the batch of baked banana muffins.

By God’s grace, they all looked so nice and yummy. And I thought to myself, “These muffins aren’t ugly. Haha.” :)

Some say that the difference between a cupcake and a muffin is the frosting that cupcakes have. But, according to Alton Brown, the difference is in the mixing method. In making cakes, the butter and sugar are creamed first until fluffy; eggs are added; and finally, the dry ingredients are incorporated. On the other hand, in making muffins, the dry ingredients are combined; the wet ingredients are combined; and then both wet and dry ingredients are mixed together.

In the same way, God showed me that He also uses different methods in our lives. He had a purpose in mind when He made each of us and we just have to continue trusting in His goodness and faithfulness in our lives.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

-Jeremiah 29:11

“You Were Meant To Be Touching
The Lives That You Touch
And Meant To Be Here
Making This World So Much More
Than It Would Be Without You In It”

-Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Meant To Be”

The day before I made banana muffins, I was struggling with insecurities again. But, God knows exactly how and when to encourage us. Thank You, Lord!

I pray that we may continue to find our security in Him all the days of our lives. God bless you, guys!

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

 

RECIPE: By Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar (I used 3/4 brown and 3/4 white sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
  • 1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
  • 1 cup small-diced almond nuts

Steps:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Line 18 large muffin cups with paper liners.

3. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

4. Combine the butter, eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Combine well, but don’t overmix.

5. Fold the diced bananas and nuts into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each 1 to the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

6. Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve.

 

*By the way, if you want to read more about cupcakes, you can go to this link: http://encouragingtreats.com/free-cupcakes/ :)