NOTHING seems more helpless than a newborn baby. When we came into the world our security depended entirely on our parents. When we learned to walk, we met strangers who towered over us like giants. They frightened us unless our parents were close at hand. But we felt safe when we grasped the hand of our mother or father.
During childhood, our well-being depended on the love and encouragement that our parents gave us. When we realized that our parents loved us, it reinforced our sense of security. When they assured us that we were doing well, we felt more confident and we made progress.
As we got a bit older, close friends also provided additional security. We felt comfortable in their presence, and they made the school environment seem less intimidating.
Those thoughts, of course, describe the ideal childhood. Some youngsters find few close friends, and too many children receive scant parental support. “Whenever I see pictures of united families doing things together, I think to myself, ‘I wish I had enjoyed that when I was a young girl,’” confesses Melissa.* Perhaps you feel the same way.
PROBLEMS OF AN INSECURE UPBRINGING
Maybe you lacked confidence during your formative years. Perhaps you received little love and encouragement. Possibly, you remember the constant fights between your parents that led to the breakup of their marriage—a separation you may have mistakenly blamed on yourself. Or even worse, perhaps one of your parents abused you verbally or physically.
How may an insecure child react? Some turn to drugs or binge drinking during their teenage years. Others join gangs in search of a sense of belonging. Insecure teenagers may jump into a romantic relationship, seeking love and affection. But these relationships rarely last long, and the breakup often causes even more insecurity.
Vulnerable teenagers who avoid such major pitfalls may still grow up with little sense of self-worth. “I became convinced that I was useless, since that is what my mother told me time and time again,” explains Ana. “I can’t remember receiving any commendation or affection from her.”
Our upbringing is not the only cause of insecurity. We may feel insecure as a result of a traumatic divorce, the trials of old age, or even concern about our appearance. Whatever the cause, it can rob us of happiness and damage our relationships with others. What can we do to overcome those feelings?
GOD DOES CARE ABOUT US
We need to know that help is available. We all have someone who can help us, someone who wants to help us—God himself.
This is the message God set out through his prophet Isaiah: “Do not be anxious, for I am your God. I will fortify you, yes, I will help you, I will really hold on to you with my right hand of righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10, 13) How comforting to think that God figuratively wants to take us by the hand! We have no need to feel anxious!
The Bible describes worshippers of God who felt anxious but who learned to hold God’s hand. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, felt that she was a failure, since she could not have a baby. She was often ridiculed for her barrenness. As a result, Hannah lost her appetite and often wept. (1 Samuel 1:6, 8) But after she poured out her feelings to God, she no longer felt miserable.—1 Samuel 1:18.
The psalmist David also felt insecure at times. For years, King Saul tried to hunt him down. David survived several attempts on his life, and he sometimes felt he was drowning in his problems. (Psalm 55:3-5; 69:1) Despite this, he wrote: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Jehovah, make me dwell in security.”—Psalm 4:8.
Both Hannah and David threw their emotional burdens on Jehovah, and they found that he did sustain them. (Psalm 55:22) How can we do the same today?
THREE WAYS TO FEEL MORE SECURE
1. Learn to trust in Jehovah as a Father.
Jesus urged us to get to know his Father, “the only true God.” (John 17:3) “He is not far off from each one of us,” the apostle Paul assures us. (Acts 17:27) “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you,” wrote James.—James 4:8.
Knowing that we have a heavenly Father who loves and cares for us is a vital step in overcoming feelings of anxiety. True, it may take time to build this trust, but many have found that doing so really helps. “When Jehovah became my Father, I finally had someone to whom I could express my inner feelings,” says Caroline. “This brought me so much relief!”
“Jehovah is the one who helped me to feel secure when I was left all alone without my parents,” recalls Rachel. “I could talk to him and ask him to help me with my problems. And he did help me.”*
2. Find a spiritual family.
Jesus taught his disciples to think of one another as brothers and sisters. “All of you are brothers,” he told them. (Matthew 23:8) He wanted his true disciples to love one another and become what we could call a large spiritual family.—Matthew 12:48-50; John 13:35.
Congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses sincerely try to provide the warmth and comfort of a true spiritual family. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Many have found that congregation meetings can serve as a soothing ointment that cures their emotional cuts and bruises.
“I had a special friend in my local congregation, who understood the pain I was suffering,” recalls Eva. “She listened to me, read to me, and prayed with me. She made sure I was not alone. She helped me talk things through and unburden myself. Thanks to her support, I began to feel more secure.” “I found a ‘mother and father’ in the congregation,” Rachel adds. “They really made me feel loved and secure.”
3. Show love and kindness to others.
Showing love and kindness to others builds lasting friendships. Jesus said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) And we will doubtless discover that the more love we show, the more we receive. “Practice giving, and people will give to you,” Jesus told his disciples.—Luke 6:38.
By giving and receiving love, we feel much more secure. As the Bible points out, “love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8) “I know that some negative views I have about myself are simply not true,” María admits. “I escape from this frame of mind by helping others and forgetting myself. I always feel satisfied when I do something for others.”
SECURITY FOR EVERYONE
The above steps are not a ‘magic formula’ that provides instant, lasting relief. But they can make a big difference. “I still have feelings of insecurity,” Caroline admits. “But now I have more self-worth. I know God cares for me, and I have many close friends who also make me feel secure.” Rachel feels the same way. “From time to time, sadness overwhelms me,” she says. “But I have spiritual brothers and sisters I can turn to for advice, ones who help me see things positively. And above all, I have a heavenly Father whom I talk to every day. That makes all the difference.”
The Bible describes a coming new world, where each one of us will feel secure
There is also a lasting solution. The Bible describes a coming new world, where each one of us will feel secure. God’s Word promises: “They will sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one will make them afraid.” (Micah 4:4) At that time, nobody will make us feel unprotected, nor will anyone do us harm. Even deep-rooted traumas of the past “will not be called to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17, 25) God and his Son, Christ Jesus, will establish “true righteousness.” The result “will be lasting tranquillity and security.”—Isaiah 32:17.
All names have been changed.
Jehovah’s Witnesses offer free Bible studies to those who would like to draw closer to God.