The Root of Insecurity


Last week I wrote a post about body image. It quickly became my most viewed post so far this year (possibly of all-time, but I only installed statistics software in March!). Clearly this is still a hugely sensitive issue for many of you, so I’d like to offer some further encouragement today.

It hurts when people say negative things about our appearance. Most of us have been wounded by the words of another, with regards to how we look. I’ve been called fat, ugly, short (despite being almost 5’7”!), skinny (not as a compliment), etc. But I’ve also been told I am beautiful, tall, have a great figure, etc. Whose assessment is correct? (That’s a rhetorical question – I’m not fishing for compliments!) Clearly other people’s opinions are not a good indicator of the truth, since they often contradict each other.

I think that when our identity is built on Christ alone, we will be set free from the need for others to find us physically attractive. Insecurity is what prompts us to seek validation from other people, and insecurity is essentially a kind of identity crisis. When we build our identity on anything other than Christ, we will feel insecure, and the opinions others will have a massive impact on how we view ourselves.

So how do we find our identity in Christ?

Learn the truth about who God says we are. In Christ, we are saved, we are children of God, we are loved, we are forgiven, we are precious, we are righteous (not because of anything we do, but because God has imparted His righteousness to us as a free gift).

Do what is spiritually beneficial. Having an affair with someone because they tell you you’re beautiful when your husband doesn’t is NOT going to make you feel more secure in the long-run. It is spiritually detrimental and will just feed your desire to be validated without addressing the spiritual deficit at the root of that need. This is just one example of something that would be non-beneficial, but there are many other things that might appear to be helpful but that actually make the problem worse. Doing what IS spiritually beneficial (worshipping and building a relationship with Jesus, praying, getting to know God’s word, practicing forgiveness, exercising love towards others, etc.) will have the opposite effect, and will reaffirm your identity in Christ.

Do the will of God. Jesus said that our new commandment is to love one another. I think that in many cases, God’s will can be ascertained by determining what is the most loving course of action. Doing the will of God will help deepen our relationship with Him, and a deep relationship with God is the best antidote to insecurity. Of course, we should want to build a relationship with Him because of who He is, rather than because it’ll make us feel better about ourselves. But fewer insecurities is an almost-guaranteed side-effect, as the opinions of others seem pretty insignificant in light of God’s love for us.

I’m not saying that those who still struggle with insecurities are spiritually inferior. Learning to walk in absolute freedom is an ongoing process, and I don’t know if anyone has ever reached the point of being 100% secure and immune to the opinions of others! I think it comes down to this: when I realise that I cannot be or do good without Christ, I realise that building an identity around anything other than Him is only going to lead to me being disappointed in myself. That disappointment can manifest in many different areas of life. But physical appearance seems to be a big one for many, many women (and a lot of men, too!).

So, maybe I’m ugly, maybe I’m beautiful. But maybe it doesn’t matter. It has no bearing on who I am, and it absolutely does not change how God views me. He looks at me through the lens of Christ’s sacrifice, and thus nothing I can do could make Him love me less or more. As I’ve said before, His love is complete.


Photo courtesy of KaitlynKalon

Why You Won’t Hear Me Complaining About My Appearance

When I was younger, I was obsessed with my appearance. I know what you’re thinking – ALL teenage girls are obsessed with appearance. But this went beyond the normal teenage preoccupation with looks. I spent almost every waking moment thinking of ways to better myself physically. I struggled to enjoy time spent with friends, as I would constantly compare myself to them, find myself wanting, and thus spend the rest of the day feeling ugly and worthless. Many times I would opt to stay at home, reading trashy magazines and brainstorming ways to become more beautiful, rather than spending time socialising. I grew up in a seaside town, but can only recall two occasions where I actually went to the beach and wore swimwear along with my friends (I felt self-conscious the entire time). I wrote out multiple diet plans every day, was constantly wanting reassurance from everyone that I wasn’t disgusting, and spoke about my body as though it were my worst enemy. I was also sick a lot as a teenager, and am convinced that this was at least partly due to the resentment I held towards my body.

q 018

To pull off the “Mali Pose”, cover as much of the face as possible, whilst maintaining eye-contact. (c. 2007)

I look back and cringe at some of the words I used to describe myself and this amazing body that God created. How awful, to declare that I hate my legs, when there are people who would give anything for a pair of healthy, functioning legs. How sad, to say that I hate my nose, when it enables me to breathe and smell the ocean and the flowers in my garden. What a shame, to complain about a little bit of fat on my stomach, which is there to protect the baby I will one day carry. How ridiculous, to dislike my eyes, when some people aren’t even able to see God’s beautiful creation around them. How ungrateful, to hate my mouth, when it allows me to do the very thing that brings me so much joy (singing). And what an absolute waste of life, to spend so much time thinking about something so completely temporal. This body of mine will (God-willing) get old, and will eventually die. But some things are eternal. Some things will not decay. This body is simply a tool – it should be looked after, nourished and nurtured, but it should not be an idol.

To the people who want to know if I’ve “let myself go”, I say yes and no. I’ve not stopped caring for my body – I try and stay as fit and healthy as possible, I eat well, I limit my exposure to toxic self-care products, I have good personal hygiene, etc. But in a sense I have let myself go, in that I’ve let myself go from the constant fear and anxiety that comes with being preoccupied with my appearance. Instead of spending my days obsessing about the way I look, I want to spend my days walking with Jesus and storing up treasures in heaven, because those are the things that will matter when my body is in the ground.


To pull off the “Mali Pose 2.0”, relax, smile and enjoy life in the body you’ve been given. (c. 2013)

I’m not claiming to have it all together, but God has brought me a long way. I might not be overjoyed by my cellulite, but I sure do appreciate the body I’ve been given, for it is fearfully and wonderfully made, and it enables me to do all sorts of things that I never want to take for granted.

To those of you who are still struggling with this issue, I pray that you’ll find freedom. I understand the pain that comes with self-hatred, but I know that there is healing to be found in Jesus, whose physical body was marred beyond recognition on the cross. His love is not dependent on how pretty we are. His love is perfect. It is complete.

P.S. The declaration made in the title of this post is more of a goal than a promise. Please feel free to call me on it if you ever catch me going back on my word!

Depression, Mental Illness and Compassion

Earlier this week, I learned of the tragic suicide of Rick Warren‘s 27-year-old son, Matthew, who had reportedly suffered with mental illness for many years. Furthermore, I learned of the compassionless responses of some Christians. I’ve since read a few articles on the issue (linked to at the bottom of this post), and have been pondering the issue of mental illness.

I would like to begin by confessing that I either have struggled or am currently struggling with the following:

(NB: I don’t love labels, and don’t generally identify myself using the terms above. I’m also NOT sharing this to try and garner sympathy. I’m a little embarrassed to be posting it for the whole world to see, but also feel that it’s important to show you where I’m coming from in writing this post.)

In my struggle to overcome the issues listed above, one of the hardest things to deal with has been the sense of spiritual failure. The idea that I’m depressed because I’m just not resting in the joy of the Lord has often made me even more depressed. Hearing (and reading) the thoughts of some other Christians on the issue of mental illness/psychological issues has usually not helped matters. That said, I’ve learnt a lot along the way, and would like to share my thoughts with you.

Frank Viola posted today about the three viewpoints held by Christians on the issue of mental illness. Please go and read the post to get a clearer understanding of the different theories.

When I was a very new believer, I was convinced that all mental illness was due to spiritual oppression of some sort. I no longer hold this few (and haven’t for a few years). I do believe (as Frank does), that the body, soul and spirit are interconnected, and that each can influence the others in profound ways. I also believe that depression (and other mental illnesses) can be caused or exacerbated by a variety of different factors.

For example, I found that when I radically changed my diet and lifestyle, I was less susceptible to major depressive episodes. This led me to believe that depression can be, at least in part, physiological (i.e. related to the body).

Additionally, I found that taking control of my mind, will and emotions decreased my susceptibility to major depressive episodes. This led me to believe that depression can be, at least in part, psychological (i.e. related to the mind, and thus to the soul).

Additionally, I found that spending time worshipping Jesus, praying, focusing on God’s word and fellowshipping with other believers all decreased my susceptibility to major depressive episodes (and were often a powerful antidote in moments of acute despair). This led me to believe that depression can be, at least in part, spiritual.

When I don’t eat well, I find it harder to take control of my emotions. When I choose to dwell on negative thoughts, I feel physically ill. When I feel ill, I often feel less inclined to worship God. When I neglect to worship God, I find it easier to dwell on negative thoughts (and sink into depression). When I’m depressed, I find it harder to take care of myself in basic ways (such as eating well). And so on!

I hope you get my point. I’m trying to illustrate the fact that the body, soul and spirit can all influence each other, and that the cause(s) of depression and mental illness can differ from person to person.

The greater point I’m trying to make is that we should not treat our brothers and sisters as spiritually inferior when they are struggling with depression and/or mental illness (nor should we cast blame on parents who have just lost a beloved son to suicide). We need to extend compassion and withhold judgement, so that people can feel safe in being open and honest about their struggles. Let’s treat each other the way Jesus commanded us to: with unconditional love.

Have you struggled with depression or mental illness? What are your thoughts on the origin(s) of such issues? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Further reading:

Broken Hand Blues

Ever wondered who did most of the complicated guitar work on my album (I say most because my dad also contributed some)? That was my husband, Cuan, who specialises in the slide guitar (pictured below), but is also a master of acoustic and lead guitar.


Since we live on a farm, we “foster” dogs. That is, we look after the pups of some friends and family members who don’t have  as much outdoor space as we do. We currently look after three labradors (all of whom are related), and love them dearly. In October of last year, we started looking after a beautiful Siberian husky. He was a sweet thing, but sadly he and the male lab could not get along – they kept fighting for dominance. One day, they got in a particularly nasty fight. Cuan bravely intervened, and his hand got caught in the middle of the brawl. The labrador accidentally bit him (we know it was an accident, as he let go as soon as Cuan cried out in pain) and snapped his third metacarpal clean in two.


Since it was a displaced fracture, he had to have an operation to insert a metal plate and some screw, in order to keep the bone in place. But because we waited so long to be seen to at A&E, that the bite became extremely infected, and they couldn’t operate until the infection cleared. The result was that Cuan was walking around with a broken hand for three weeks! Eventually they decided it was safe to go ahead and slice.


Sleepy boy, having just awoken from the first operation



Titanium, keeping it all together

Initially, the doctors said that the plate and screws could stay in for good. But after a couple of months, it became apparent that the tendon was getting caught on the plate, and there was risk of it fraying and snapping (exactly what you DON’T want if you play guitar for a living!). So, Cuan had to go under the knife for a second time.


Battle scar 2.0

Thankfully, it was his right hand that got bitten – that means he is still able to play guitar (although finger-picking is a challenge). We’re hoping that he will regain full mobility in his middle finger. There have been definite improvements since the latest operation, so hopefully once the scar tissue disperses, he will make a full recovery! In the meantime, I can’t think of a better physiotherapy than this:


Thanks to everyone who has prayed for Cuan and his hand in the past few months – we really appreciate it!


Photos courtesy of Cuan Korsten

It’s All About You, Jesus


I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You, it’s all about You
, Jesus.

The Heart of Worship – Matt Redman

I’ve sung the song quoted above many, many times. I love the words. Yet, until earlier this week, I don’t think I fully comprehended their meaning. Sure, on a theoretical level I knew that following Jesus is not about getting a free pass to heaven, not about being relieved of hardship, not about trying not to sin, but rather about knowing and glorifying Jesus. I “knew” these things, but I didn’t know them.

Earlier in the week I read this article, entitled, “Jesus Never Said That”. By the time I had finished reading it, I felt like a miracle had occurred in my heart. A real and tangible change happened, and my perspective completely shifted.

For so long I have been striving. Striving to overcome strongholds that still remain in my life, striving to be successful, striving to be good. My prayers have consistently been along the lines of, “God, help me not to sin,” or, “Lord, please provide me with XYZ…” or, “Please heal me.” I’ve read the Bible out of a sense of duty, rather than out of a desire to know Jesus better. That’s not to say that I didn’t love Jesus, but that perhaps I loved Him more for what He did for me, rather than for who He is. But Jesus is not the means to some other end. He is the end (and the beginning).

I’ve tried to be a perfect wife – I failed. I’ve tried to be a perfect daughter – I failed at that too. In my pursuit of perfection, I have achieved nothing but failure. Yet, the grace of God frees me from the obligation of being perfect, so that I can instead rejoice in the perfection of Christ.

It goes without saying that I don’t want to sin, and that I want to do the will of God. But I find that the more I strive to do these things, the more I fail. Instead of praying for help not to sin, I want to dwell in the presence of Jesus. Instead of asking God to alleviate my suffering, I want to draw near to Him and let everything else evaporate in the light of Christ. He will work everything else out in me. He is faithful to bring the good work he has begun in me to completion. In my weakness, He is strong. In my failings, He is victorious. I want to love Him with all that I am, for all that He is. He is the goal.


Photo courtesy of Diorama Sky