Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. -Proverbs 29:25
I had three parent-teacher conferences this week that went great. But of course, before they occurred, I was extremely nervous because of how I thought they could go. I was worried about the information I had to tell the parents and how it would be received, what the parents would think of me as a 23-year-old teacher, and even if my clothes that day would say "professional" or "slacker." I wish I could say that this is a rare state of mind for me, but it's not.
And the ironic thing is, in posting today, I'm worried about how crazy people will think about all my weird insecurities. But I have this sneaking suspicion that I'm not the only one. I doubt I'm the only one that hopes no one will comment about how every pair of pants I own is from Target, or how although I've lost 20 pounds, I'm still 20 pounds heavier than anyone I teach with, or that the new idea I want to try out with my kids is really going to bomb. It's this obsession with wanting to seem "normal" in the eyes of people around me. And the only way I can describe it is as a trap.
Enter Proverbs 29:25 that showed up as the daily verse on biblegateway.com Thursday, right before a conference. It seems like I'm not so odd if it's a proverb in the Bible...that author hit the nail on the head. Being fearful of what man thinks or can do is a straight up snare. And not only that, the "antidote" isn't to "be yourself" or "make yourself happy."
Did anyone watch the pilot episode of Community? The "jock" in the study group, Troy, wears a high school letter jacket all the way to college, which earns him a fair amount of slack. He asks Jeff Winger if he should stop wearing the jacket so that people will stop making fun of him, or keep wearing it to not look weak. And Jeff tells him, "Either way, it's for them." The world tells us to do things for ourselves, not for other people.
But that's not what Proverbs 29:25 says. It says to trust in the Lord, to take the focus off of me and concern myself with Him.
This message has been said to me about three ways in the past couple of weeks, from various people, and I think that means that I need to listen. A very insightful friend said to me the other day, "The way you're looking at all of this is very egocentric." Ouch, but so true. When I'm so concerned about what everyone thinks of me, it's not really about making them happy, it's about making sure I look ok. It's not about insecurities. It's about being selfish, when I really get down to it. And being confident in myself will create a whole new slew of problems.
This friend challenged me to stop worrying about myself and focus that energy on the Lord and on other people. That's how I stop this crazy cycle. Remember, "If nothing changes, nothing changes," and this is one thing that has to change.