Strength in the Desert: Embracing Insecurities

“There’s a camel and a horse in every one of us” the priest’s words echoed and the church pews were silent with anticipation of where this message was leading. A few people giggled at the ridiculousness of his statement (myself included), but his face was stern with serious conviction.

“So what comes to mind when you think of a camel or when you consider a horse?” Of all the homilies I’ve encountered never before was I asked such an outrageous question before. I believe I even scoffed, thinking it was a joke.

When I just about concluded that the priest who shared these thoughts had lost his mind, he shared with us these questions: “Which one of these animals will survive the heat of the desert? Is it the camel or the horse that is equipped to go days in unbearable weather before reaching sustenance? Yes, the camel. You throw a horse in the desert and it will start running for miles, exhausting itself to the bone, eventually killing itself from dehydration and starvation. You see, it is the camel that survives the desert and uses its’ humps with stored water to sustain itself. We may see the humps as unconventional, but God seems them as serving a beautiful purpose. What kind of humps or insecurities are you neglecting to allow God transform into a purpose that’s beautiful?”

My visible smirk was immediately wiped off my face. I was stunned. Both at the priest’s message and the truth his last question had resonated with me. My palms grew sweaty and my heart sank knowing there was a lot of pain within that I had been suppressing.

Like a camel, I struggle a lot of days to see my inherent beauty, the fruits of my capabilities or even feeling special. I wonder all the other ways I could have been created and force myself into believing I’m a mistake. I’ve given myself every reason to criticize the way I sound to other people, to prove I’m not some weird freak. Too long I have dwelt on my “humps” or the visible quirks about myself that I wish I could change or take back.

But some days the horse within me comes alive. There are moments when I feel proud when I pitched a creative idea to my team members, or the way I paired certain words together to seem attractive to guys. Although success and eloquence are important to acquire and be proud of, it becomes dangerous to rely on these experiences to define your character. I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted clinging onto a twisted vision of what it means to be “perfect” and “good” in order to please other people and earn attention from Jesus.

On days we feel like horses, we’re fooling ourselves to think we can do it all on our own, but when we embrace our funny looks, our awkwardness, our flaws, we make enough room in our very being to let Jesus sustain us through life — He gives us what we need to make it through the deserts of life if we make room in our hearts the way camels make room for water.

I love being the friend that people can rely on to go deep in conversations. I love that my heart is drawn to hear people’s stories and to be a firm foundation of support for their life. I enjoy that the Lord gave me a brain wired to love all things Theology. My curiosity for the world and the nature of God’s hand in everything is unique to me. I wouldn’t be Kellie if I didn’t have a knack for adventure and exploration.

But instead of owning the parts about myself I know Christ knitted within me, I’ve caught myself playing the comparison game a lot lately. I’ll be surrounded by God-centered and virtuous people and envy the way they have confidence to raise their hands in worship or know what Scripture devotionals to center on. I’ll notice the way my girlfriends can pull off barely wearing makeup as I hide behind many strokes of mascara and think to myself how insecure I must have been in my own skin that morning. In front of boys – forget it! My typical extroverted and bubbly self refrains from speaking too much in fear of embarrassing myself and then I’ll grow bitter that my friends know the right words to say. Scrolling through Instagram doesn’t help either when all you see are classmates posing risque photos of them in their new bathing suits for the summer. It’s difficult to enjoy yourself completely, isn’t it?

Amidst those dry and deserted deserts though, Jesus has always been faithful in luring me into His embrace when I mustered up the courage to be honest about the way I feel about myself and why I feel so ashamed. When I give Jesus permission to speak into my insecurities through prayer, He uses the people who understand my heart the best to bring refreshment and healing to my soul.

Witnessing God’s providence to bring certain people in my life who’ve encountered similar vulnerabilities as me has helped me become more articulate to express why and where such thoughts are coming from. We are built for companionship and the healing medicine it can bring. Every time I felt the powerful work of Satan using my insecurities to keep me in a state of fearfulness, I always invited someone I trusted in those raw corners of my wounds. My deepest desire is that you may do the same. Allow yourself to acknowledge the insecurities that are binding you, but don’t stay in that place. Give yourself permission to let your vulnerabilities be the seeds that will grow you, transform and nourish you in a more personal relationship with Jesus. Trust me, it’s a battle (literally against Satan) worthy of the fight and not always an easy reality to face. But I pray and hope for you a few things:

Name Your Fears

Once I was able to name my fears to speak up in front of guys and my coworkers, it was much easier for me to trust the Lord that He alone has power over my insecurities and no one else has power over me. Acknowledge what sin Satan is tempting you to indulge in. Did you know that God actually gives you permission to attack Satan in these moments?

“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.” -Luke 10:19

In times of spiritual attack, God calls us to respond by denouncing Satan’s name and calling upon His. Heck! We are even given the command to physically crush evil! Unfortunately, Satan will not cease to pull you away from the glory of God. He will continually fight in all his power to abandon you and lie to you. Do not be fooled. Jesus took three days to die on the Cross for us, to descend into Hell to redeem souls and ascend into Heaven. But the devil is still aiming to perfect his craft, 2,000 years later and counting! Spoiler alert: he will never be able perfect his craft as long as you continually call upon Jesus as your Redeemer and Protector.

Don’t Try to Control Them

It became utterly exhausting every time I tried to reshape the mold of who Kellie naturally is into persons and attributes that don’t fit me. Like a camel, you don’t need to chase a spring of water the way a horse does. You’ll get there eventually through the preparation of your heart and your mind. Allow yourself the liberation to give up control and I promise you will be ready to drink that water and those newly discovered attributes about yourself when the time is right.

Invite Jesus Into Them

But Kellie…none of this makes the pain and suffering of my insecurities feel any less! I know. I know. When the weight of my constant awareness of being awkward seemed to linger, I knew that my prayers needed to change.

St. Rose of Lima used to invite Jesus by saying, “Lord, increase my sufferings and with them increase Your love in my heart.” This may sound counter-intuitive, but when you give Jesus permission to enter your heart, especially when it’s the hardest, He ALWAYS proves how much He is in love with you tenfold.

Invite Jesus to reveal to you where His purpose lies. Ask Him if there are people in your life thirsting for understanding too. Allow Christ to use you and your internal disposition to bring truth and the beauty of the Church to those around you.

Walk Through Your Deserts Slowly, Relying on Jesus

In times of thirsting change, I tend to get in a habit of anxiety. Whenever I find myself unsettled – whether in prayer, how I view myself or the woman I want to be to my friends around me – I am typically quick to want to fix things. My mother has reminded me more times than I can count (thanks Mom) that as I am running fast and far, Jesus calls us to slow down and spend time with Him on the journey.

“Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord…and to take good care for one another.” The priest sent us forward and as I dipped my fingers in the holy water, I couldn’t help but beaming with a smile of pure joy on my face knowing that my journey with Jesus to find peace was just beginning.