Sometimes, regardless of my age, I still feel as insecure as a teen on the first day of school. It’s difficult to separate what I produce from my identity, so if people don’t comment on my post or like my photo or buy my book, I can easily internalize it as a sign that they don’t like me. Although I know deep down it’s not true, the insecurity is there all the same, and it makes me uncomfortable with myself. Like most of us, I’m not only trying to understand the world and the people around me, but I’m also still struggling to understand myself, my inclinations, and my motivations.
This is why I find the Enneagram so interesting; it gives a glimpse into what makes me tick. I’m particularly fascinated by descriptions of what my number (or personality type) looks like in either a healthy or an unhealthy state. The first time I read a description of how my number often behaves under stress, it felt like someone had followed me around when I was under a deadline or in a place of conflict and took notes.
I’m an Enneagram Three, sometimes called The Achiever (I kind of like that one) and sometimes called The Performer (that one, not so much). We are success-oriented, pragmatic, adaptable, and driven. We’re self-motivated and pride ourselves on exceeding expectations. But we constantly compare ourselves to others, we look at opportunities to succeed also as opportunities to fail, and unfortunately — although we may understand the unconditional nature of God’s love — we believe our value is tied to what we achieve.
Here’s what the Bible says about that:
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Titus 3:5-6 (NKJV)
My heart knows my identity is in Christ. However, sometimes I live like my identity is rooted in what I do or can produce.
This insecurity also causes me to purposefully avoid things I might not be good at. In December, my family moved to a neighborhood with an active tennis community. I’ve met multiple neighbors who never played before moving here, but they joined a beginner league and now tennis is an important part of their life.
The idea of picking up a racket for the first time in years and joining a league sounds absolutely terrifying (and yes, I’m aware it should actually sound fun). If I ever join one, it will be a sign I’m in a really good place emotionally. Occasionally I force myself to do things that will make me look or feel foolish so that I won’t miss out on a fun, group experience.
Sadly, at times I allow my aversion to failure to interfere with my calling. If you’re nodding your head because you’ve been there too, you’ll be glad to know we aren’t alone. According to Bible Promises for the Enneagram, Moses shared this trait. He grew up with power and influence as a member of Pharaoh’s house, but when God asked him to confront Pharaoh and request the release of His people, Moses felt inadequate and insecure. Even after God tells Moses, “Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say,” he replies, “Please, Lord, send someone else” (Exodus 4:12-13 CSB).
Moses was afraid of being embarrassed and failing in a big, public way. I totally get it.
I once jotted this note in the margin of my Bible next to those verses in Exodus: “The Lord will equip us to do what He calls us to do.” I knew I would need to be reminded again and again, like now on the eve of a book release.
You might think book publishing would make someone so goal-oriented feel accomplished, but the fear of failure (Amazon rankings update like an hourly online popularity contest), disappointing people (like your editor or your publisher), and the comparison trap (someone else already said it better) can cripple me from the inside out.
Thankfully, God’s definition of success and mine are very different.
Do you need to be reminded that your value comes from Whose you are and not who you are? That God’s love is given, not earned? That He offers rest to the weary and that His burden is light?
God’s love is bigger than our successes, our failures, our gifts, or our limitations. We may rank ourselves by our achievements or how we measure up compared to the rest of the world, but God loves us unconditionally based on the righteousness of His son Jesus Christ.
So we can say yes to joining a tennis league or making a new friend or doing what feels impossible in our eyes because whether we fail or look foolish to others, we know we are fully loved no matter what.Leave a Comment