Back in college, I struggled to maintain healthy, close relationships. I was eaten alive with insecurity, which made it hard to have friendships without operating on a relational barter system that left people feeling used.
As I’ve described in a previous article for Boundless,
“If I called you, I figured you should call me back. If I invited you to my party, I wanted to be invited to yours. And if you didn’t, then we just weren’t friends.
“In a word, friendship was conditional.
“The problem with conditional friendship was that it gave others the power to make me more or less friendly, depending on how well they responded to me. And it didn’t take much for me to deem someone’s response as inadequately friendly.
“I always needed a prompt reply to my phone call or email, an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to my invitations. I needed to be coddled and comforted and assured that I was liked. If someone neglected to call back, it couldn’t be because they forgot — no way, it had to be because they were ignoring me and my all-important need for affirmation.”
You Might be an Insecure Person if . . .
Insecure people are always clinging, trying to hold onto what little love they believe they have. They can’t afford to overlook offenses; they grasp too desperately for more affection; they live in a world in which they’re always evaluating others to see if they’re giving just the right kind of affirmation they need.
They’re like the guy in Jesus’ parable who was forgiven a debt of $25 million or so by the king. Instead of becoming more merciful in response, the former debtor goes out and finds a fellow servant who owes him a few thousand bucks. Jesus says, “He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full” (Matthew 18:28-30).
What an absurd story – unless you think like an insecure person.
Choking Others for Love
The unconditional love of God is never enough for the insecure person – they need everyone else around them to prove their worth as well. And if you don’t, they exile you, cut you off, and push you away until you pay your debt to them.
The insecure person’s world is one of relational poverty – one where they’re always begging for or demanding love, depending on how powerful they’re feeling that day. It’s a sad, twisted mentality that is rooted in an unbelief in the only love that will ever satisfy them. And, going back to the parable, when someone operates out of that kind of insecurity and disbelief, they have no choice: they will end up in a prison where their soul is tortured (Matthew 18:34).
If you’re an insecure person who’s constantly keeping records of who loves you enough, the godliest thing you can do right now is set the world free – your coworker who barely acknowledges you, your boss that cursed at you back in the late 1990s, your cousin that embarrassed you on Facebook, your dad who abused you, your wife who got an attitude with you today (this should include future offenders as well, by the way). Recognize how incredibly offensive, unbearable, and sinful you’ve been towards other people over the years; and then celebrate God’s forgiveness of that debt by writing off everyone else’s.
And if you’re in a relationship with an insecure person who’s always demanding your affection, keep forgiving that offense in the light of how much you’ve been forgiven. Otherwise, you’ll end up living the same, tortured existence as the insecure person God has entrusted you to love.