There was a time, way back when, that I didn’t quite embrace the fact that my life naturally attracted all things weird, embarrassing, different, and “dirty”.

I was a preacher’s kid and I was always so watched that I was rather insecure for much of my growing up. Though it has gotten better, I still tend to want to retreat there in that insecure state of mind.

I lived most of my life so afraid of disappointing people. I learned very early on to reign it in and act the way I knew people expected.

I will never forget the time I went to the skating rink and dropped my skates in front of everyone and OH THE HORROR I said a hearty, “SHIT”, right in front of two Sunday School teachers and 3 other church members. Just recalling this memory makes the guilt rise back up. I seriously needed therapy from that. I just knew they would tell my dad and he would be so disappointed in me.

And is there anything worse in the world than that?

I was just a normal kid, doing normal sinful things though. Does that excuse it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But I wasn’t some hellion that was too far gone from the grace of Jesus like I really thought I was at the time.

I continued my life with the “watched” mentality. There were times I’d test the watched theory and go to a PG13 movie with a boy that my parents probably/most likely/absolutely wouldn’t really like. I would go through stages of sneakiness just to try and see what got back to my parents.

And I didn’t have it half as bad as my sisters did. They were a part of churches that were even more legalistic and judgmental and not as grace-giving as I was.

Then at the wise, old age of 18 I got married. I absolutely was in love with Andy, but I’m pretty sure I was more in love with the idea of being free and away from the life as a pastor’s child.

Marriage = freedom? HA

When Andy and I first got married we “went to church” but we didn’t get involved. We moved a lot because of his internships so when we lived on the coast we barely, if ever attended church. When we lived in Starkville we went to church solely because we LOVED our Sunday School teachers and class. Eventually, though, it became more of a social thing for us than a “let’s actually seek Jesus and grow in Him” thing.

Everytime I would start to really be a part of a church and rise up to lead in some way or another, I would always retreat and run away from that.

Why?

Because I would be watched again. All those insecurities that I had about never being good enough or enough of a proper southern church lady or straight-laced enough…. they would rise back up like fire inside of me. It would literally tear me apart.

Why?

Because I knew, and still know, that I’m never going to be that person. I’m absolutely NOT straight-laced and absolutely NOT a perfect, proper Southern church lady.

I won’t ever be.

Why?

Because that is not who God made me.

Four years ago we moved to Texas and had a precious baby. It scared me to death because I knew from that point on I would be permanently watched by someone. I had no choice but to decide to just be me.

I had to face the fact that I wasn’t going to always measure up. I wasn’t always going to succeed at everything. I was absolutely going to disappoint people and fail.

Because I’m human.

I’m not some overly spiritual, say-the-right-things, legalistic to a T person.

I’ve NEVER been that person. I wasn’t RAISED to be that person. I was letting all of those people who always “watched” me and my family still dictate how my life was turning out.

And those people had judged me and deemed me no good long before they ever took the chance to know me.

So during that time of realizing that I would always be watched by my daughter, I took that as an opportunity to really get to know myself and really get to know God and really get to know what He wanted for my life.

And during that time He slowly showed me that I had something to offer my family, my friends, and my church that a lot of people are afraid to offer: REALNESS.

So over the course of about a year we got really active in a church in Texas and I fell in love with church again. I fell in love with other Christians. I fell in love with Jesus all over again.

The difference was that I went into it saying that if I didn’t get on leadership because I was committed to being real, then so be it. I knew God wanted me to not fake it- he wanted me to always be myself, the person He created in His own image.

My time in Texas was so full of growth and LIFE and loving people (the dirtier the better) and being loved on. I will forever be thankful for that time of spiritual growth for me.

Then we moved to Savannah. And whoa, culture shock of a small town.

Instead of continuing my “calling”, if you will, of being real, I retreated. I hid my true self to select people, started faking it again, and was completely and totally miserable.

Y’all. For me, THAT IS A SIN.

I was showing my children the wrong thing- I was acting one way at church and another at home.

I had gone back to being “watched” and insecure and feeling like a failure AT ALL TIMES.

I knew people simply did not like me when I was real, so I started being quiet and even ashamed of things that I do in my life that ARE NOT SINS (drinking a glass of wine with my husband is a good example of this).

At this point, I actually started sinning more. My thoughts became so negative all the time. My mouth spewed curse words (my biggest struggle in life is my potty mouth). Ugliness was spewing from me…. until I was at church with certain people and then I was the “perfect Southern church lady”.

That’s the thing about sin, it sneaks up on you and transforms you before you even know what is happening.

A few weeks ago, I was given an agreement to sign if I wanted to be on leadership. It stated that I could never consume alcohol.

And that is when it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I had gone completely back to the person I hated, the person who felt insecure and watched. The person who was never going to be good enough, never going to measure up. Never going to be able to reach unbelievers because I just wasn’t capable if I didn’t live a “picture perfect” life.

What hit me so hard that night- the thing that caused me to cry for literally two weeks straight, the thing that made me physically nauseous- was the realization that me, a sinner saved by the Grace of God and 100% certain that I am going to Heaven because Jesus died on the Cross for me, felt this way…

so how much more does someone searching for that same Savior feel about ever stepping foot in a church?

If I feel that way, can you even imagine how a non-believer feels?

Just typing this is making me cry.

So here I am. Slapped in the face with the realization that God wants more from me.

He wants me to get dirty.

He desperately wants me (and you) to be real.

He wants me to tell how I’ve been married for ten years to a man I adore but that is has been HARD at times.

He wants me to tell that being a mom is gut wrenchingly difficult no matter what stage of life you are in with your children and no matter if you stay home or go to work.

He wants me to NEVER portray perfection because that is A LIE that the DEVIL is using to win people. Perfection was something saved only for Jesus. We are not called to be perfect- we are called to strive towards it and we are called to confess when we do wrong and pick ourselves up and TRY EVEN HARDER THE NEXT TIME.

So here is the truth, y’all.

I am a messy failure sometimes. I sometimes cuss and I’m trying hard to reign that sin in. I have tattoos. I drink wine on occasion. Andy and I fight and make up more times than I can count- but man are we always trying to have a better marriage. I yell at my kids and feel terrible about it. Sometimes I just wish I could work full time because my kids are STINKERS and whew mercy, HARD to deal with some days.

More importantly though, I am a child of God who desperately wants what HE wants for my life.

I don’t want to be insecure because he holds my security on the Cross.

If you are struggling like me, let me know. We can encourage each other in this marathon of life. We can build each other up in a world where Christians can be the WORST at tearing each other down.

I just want what God has revealed over time He wants for me- realness. Even if that means I’m not accepted in some “Christian circles”. If I’m obeying God, I don’t care if I’m accepted or not.

Related posts:

Taking care of yourself as a SAHM (some tips). #write31days
Christmas Letter 2014
Rory's heart.

5 comments on “watched : rising above insecurities in the church”

  1. Girl, you just perfectly described the struggles I had as a teenager and young adult. I’m not a “p.k.” but I grew up in churches where most everyone had 2 personalities, one for in the church and another everywhere else. It confused me. Why were they looking at me with extremely judgmental eyes and telling me all of these rules you have to follow to be a christian when I knew that God never intended for me to be perfect? I always felt so much shame. I’m so grateful that we found a church home that embraced us, sins & all! It really helped me to put those feelings of shame away & I became so much closer to God in the process. I think b/c of the shame I was made to feel, that it caused me to put a wall up b/w me and God. I didn’t feel like I was worthy enough for his love. Thank you so much for being so real! It’s amazing and comforting to know that I’m not the only weirdo out there! 😉

  2. Thank you so much for being so honest. I also grew up in a very legalistic Baptist church where you didn’t drink (EVER!), smoke, dance, cuss. Of course we all make mistakes and slip up, but the guilt and feeling like you wouldn’t make it to heaven if you didn’t ask for forgiveness right then and there was horrible! (I actually had a Sunday school teacher tell us that once.) I still struggle with feeling like I’m not good enough, but that’s what grace is for! None of us are “good enough” to earn God’s love. At this point in my life I am just trying to be the best example that I can for my girls and show them that no matter what, God will always love them. Can you please keep me in your prayers? I am going through another bout of major, crippling anxiety and the feeling that if I just prayed harder or trusted God more with the situation I wouldn’t feel so anxious, but that only seems to breed more guilt and anxiety. I can tell myself over and over that I have nothing to fear, but the physical symptoms of anxiety (like you mentioned- crying for weeks and feeling absolutely nauseous) just won’t dissipate. Thanks so much for being such an open book and sharing your joys and struggles with all of us.

  3. Tiffany, you were probably not watched nearly so much as you thought. Most of us who knew you as a little girl just loved the little girl we saw. I certainly had no more expectation of you than any other little girl.

I love hearing from y'all! Leave a comment below!