Back in college, I was a high maintenance friend.
As I’ve described in my article, “Facing Insecurity, Finding Friendship,” “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.”
With the help of God and some good friends who stuck around despite my clinginess, I eventually outgrew a lot of my insecurities — at least the more overt ones. These days, if someone doesn’t call or text back, I assume they’ve gotten distracted. If someone declines my invitation, big deal — there are other people in the world to invite. If someone doesn’t want to hang out, I’ve got other friends. But there are still insecurities, they’re just harder to detect.
Just like the old days, my insecurities are rooted in expectation, fear, and disappointment. But it’s not related to expectations over who will (or won’t) hang out with me, fear of not having a date to the Homecoming Dance, or disappointment that the cool kids didn’t invite me to Taco Bell. My grown-up expectations, fears, and disappointments seem more legitimate now. They’re not.
Whenever we get that fearful feeling of disappointment that someone isn’t going to meet our expectations like they’re supposed to, there’s probably some good, old-fashioned insecurity kicking in. And if we’re unsure whether that’s what’s going on, all we have to do is look at the fruit of those feelings. If they grow into a bitter sense of entitlement that makes us resentful of others for not meeting our needs, we’re back in the land of adolescent insecurity — our neediness is just wearing a different mask.
Places like that are ripe for the Lord to do some of His deepest work. As 19th Century artist Lilias Trotter once said, “Take the very hardest thing in your life – the place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph gloriously in that very spot. Just there He can bring your soul into blossom.”
Let’s allow our insecurities to help us recognize the hard and difficult things in our lives. Naturally, those areas will provoke needs, fears, and expectations of others — imagine the growth that can happen inside if we take those feelings to the Holy Spirit first.