Wednesday, March 6, 2013

So Long, Insecurity // Week Seven

If this is your first time here, you can check out all the posts from the "So Long, Insecurity" Bible study series by clicking HERE. Jump in where you can, when you can!


If you are following along in the print materials, this week's post and discussion questions are based on:

Chapter 11: Eating from the Wrong Tree
Chapter 12: Through the Eyes of the Guys

Group Experience
Week Seven: Letting God be God


Last week we discussed how men deal with insecurities and how we are to view them as neither gods nor devils. Now, we will take an honest look at ourselves to determine how we may end up playing god or the devil with men.

Here is how Beth Moore puts it:
"People who are chronically insecure often have an overwhelming tendency to become control freaks.... We feel most secure when our environment is in control, and since no one is able to control it to our satisfaction, we decide we have to do it ourselves.... An insecure person's greatest need for control is directed toward those who have the most potential to either threaten her security or strengthen it. That is why women choose boyfriends or husbands as the primary candidates for control..." (Chapter 11, pg 209).
Playing the Devil
Women will often try to impose control on men by playing the devil, doing what she can to shake her man's convictions. The most obvious example is tempting him with sensuality, but this can apply in any area in which a man has a God-given conviction that just isn't convenient for us: financial decisions, child-rearing, work ethics... Some women want to get their man to crack just for the assurance that she can. Some may be uncomfortable being around such strong convictions, drawing out even more of her insecurity.

I love Beth's insight on the issue:
"I've seen it with my own eyes a number of times. I'll think something like, Girlfriend, I know a hundred women who would beg, borrow, or steal to have a man like yours. Why do you constantly tear him down or make fun of him? And when you've accomplished what you were after, will you be happy with what you have left? Nothing brings out the rebellion in a woman like a man who's trying to be righteous. And vice versa." (Chapter 11, pg 208)

Playing God
On the other hand, women with insecurity may find themselves trying to take on two divine attributes: omnipotence and omniscience. (Omnipotent is "all powerful" and omniscient is "all knowing.")

The desire to be "all powerful" or to control someone may seem far-fetched, especially since playing God can be so subtle, masked by good intentions. We just want the best for them, right? But usually there is something else in it for us that will prompt us to put in more effort than we are called to do.

I think Beth's testimony about she and her husband can resonate with many of us:
"Honestly I just wanted him to be happy, and he seemed to have such unnecessary ups and downs....I knew what worked for me, and I wanted it to work for him...The way I saw it, the man had so much potential if he would just do things God's way. But since he wasn't really listening to God, maybe my way was close enough. If he would just have a regular prayer time or memorize a few Scriptures or listen to Christian music or be more jovial or more compliant or less free with his opinions but more talkative about his feelings or more selective about what he watched and more careful about what he ate, he'd be so much happier. Clearly, I needed to take control of the situation and try to shove Keith to his happy place." (Chapter 11, pg 211)
Of course, we are learning that it is not our job to fix people or change people! God does call upon us to help one another, but the helper better not be doing all the work. We are to love, support and pray for others. It is God's job to pursue, shape and when needed, chastise, a person.

The desire to be "all knowing" is one we can trace back to Eve, when she ate from the wrong tree: the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Too often our curiosity gets the best of us and we beg for more information than we can bear to hear. Have you been there?....

....What was he doing with that other woman? What does he find so interesting on the internet night after night? What is he not telling me?....

It is not just those questions that are the problem, it is what they lead to. We must be discerning and wise, aware of what is going on around us. But often our suspicions can ruin a relationship if they are unfounded. Or if there is real cause for concern, the more we dwell on what we find, the more we open ourselves to torment.

Knowing too Much
Beth shared about a young women who sought counsel after a broken engagement. The woman had suspicions that the guy she was about to marry was not God's best for her. She caught him ogling at other women constantly, but never caught him acting on it. Her suspicions caused the relationship to fall apart, although, God did confirm to her that marry him was not the best thing. The problem worsened, however. Even though she had God's answer, she didn't rest. She had to find out whether her suspicions were true. So she hacked into his email account and found email after email of inappropriate correspondence with other women. She would dwell on the words of these emails day and night, allowing the knowledge to torment her.

There is a line we cross from knowing enough to knowing too much. God knows where that line is for us. Knowing that evil exists is enough for us to counteract it; knowing all the gory details of that evil only drags us further into it. God desires for us to pursue knowledge for the edification of the soul and our community. There is a "tree of life" that sustains us and provides all we need - it is founded in God.

What Men Have to Say
As part of the survey Beth created for men, she asked them, "What is the most common way you notice insecurity in women?"

They see more than we may think!

They know we are insecure about our looks, intelligence, education level, neediness, comparison to others... They feel the consequences of our self-loathing, self-doubt, nagging, approval-seeking need for assurance. And they hate it.
"Men are repelled by open displays of female insecurity. In the long run, it does not make them more tender to us, more careful with us, more loving toward us, or more attached to us. It makes them, in the words of another guy, want to "run for their lives." It may not be fair, but it's a fact. After months of research, I'm convinced that men are indeed more intrigued by a confident woman who carries herself well and knows who she is than a picture-perfect beauty who seems little more than that." (Group Experience, pg 71-72)
This may be hard to accept, and it certainly should not be our only motivation for wanting to change (God must play the primary role in our journey). However, it is important to understand that insecurity does not invite intimacy. Insecurity only repels.

I hope last week and this week has helped those of you who do have men in your lives that either affect or are affected by your insecurity. If you find that more of your insecurity is linked to other women, I believe many of the same principles can apply to those relationships.

The bottom line is, only God can change people. The discussion questions below will help you relinquish that desire to control back over God, so He can continue doing His perfect work in you and those around you.

Bible Verses
Memorize: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Reflect: Psalm 104:24-32
Isaiah 55:8-11
Philippians 1:3-6

Discussion Questions
1. What is your reaction to Beth's summary about how men respond to our insecurity? In what ways has insecurity affected your relationship with men around you?

2. Are there times when you have felt threatened by the convictions of the man in your life? What do you think was behind your fear?

3. Whom do you find yourself most wanting to control? Why?

4. What are some ways we can combat the tendency to play God in others' lives?

5. Have you ever sensed that God was setting limits on your knowledge based on what you can handle? How do you know when you are crossing a boundary?

6. Read Psalm 104:24-32 and Isaiah 55:8-11. How does a bigger, more accurate picture of God help us gain perspective on ourselves and our limitations?

7. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. How is God changing us? What does He promise in this passage?

8. Read Philippians 1:3-6. What is Paul confident about and how can this assurance give us hope (and a cure for our desire to change others)?


Lisa Adele said... Reply to Comment

I totally used to want to control everyone and everything around me! I still do with just my personal nature (being a perfectionist). What I have found helpful in this is Galatians 5:22-23. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and SELF control." The only person GOD wants me to control is ME. Everyone else should do likewise and everything else is outside of my scope and inside of His. I have to remind myself of this a lot, but it does help :)

Valerie said... Reply to Comment

I just realized I haven't commented on this week! But Lisa, I read yours and LOVE your take on self control. What a great reminder! I used attempt to "play God" with my husband, wanting to control how things would go in our relationship and household, wanting to know every detail about everything and keeping tight reigns on plans for the future. Thankfully, God showed me that is not only made me more insecure because I took on the burden of...everything! Letting Him be God is so much easier. There are times now that I ask God about our future or what He is showing my husband and the response I get may simply be, "Trust me. I'm working." I've learned to enjoy the peace that comes with that answer. It really is easier just to trust Him than it is to try to work everything out myself!