Why do your emotions matter?
We all respond to our emotions differently, some of us will dive deep into our emotions and that is the only thing that matters, while others can deny, ignore, and even suppress their emotions.
What we do with our emotions can effect whether we are secure in ourselves, or insecure. Insecurity is a normal experience, though it is not one that we all like to discuss. Even the topic of insecurity can breed more insecurity.
But what does insecurity mean to you? Is it your confidence level? Your appearance? How others rank you? Insecurity is about the internal conversation that you have and how you think about yourself.
 Samuel brought each tribe, one after the other, to the altar, and the LORD chose the Benjamin tribe.  Next, Samuel brought each clan of Benjamin there, and the LORD chose the Matri clan. Finally, Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they looked for him, he was nowhere to be found.  The people prayed, “Our LORD, is Saul here?” “Yes,” the LORD answered, “he is hiding behind the baggage.”1 Samuel 10:20-22 CEV
Russ, Nick, Ray and Brian discuss King Saul while sharing their own insights and stories on their internal insecurities. Saul was someone who had all the outward attributes of a confident and capable person, but he lacked the internal security and relationship with God to be unshakeable.
In a recent Washington Post article, We have an epidemic of loneliness. How can we fix it?, and the book Them: Why We Hate Each Other–and How to Heal by Ben Sasse, there is an pervasive problem of loneliness despite being in an age of a highly connected world.
A lot of that loneliness that people can experience comes from our own internal insecurity. Until we work out the anxieties inside with God, we will not be able to find that lasting security we all desire.
Episodes in this series
- Why Emotions Matter, Part One
- Why Emotions Matter, Part Two
- Why Emotions Matter, Part Three
Russ Ewell: Welcome to Deep Spirituality. My name is Russ Ewell. I’m here today with Ray Kim, Brian Nita, and Nick Straw. We’re going to have the special, Deep Spirituality today that we hope to be able to send to you and two or three parts, depending upon how much we can cover today, we’ll have more episodes coming up because what we’re about to do is launch a series called why emotions matter.
In my own personal experience of Christianity, it became obvious to me that I understood Christianity from a behavioral point of view long before I understood it from a relational point of view. And as I’ve just talked with and worked with a lot of people over almost three decades of being in the ministry, one thing has been obvious to me and that is that most of us don’t have an opportunity to be able to take a look and see what does it mean to combine both our spiritual life and our emotional life.
In fact, one could argue that our capacity for emotional awareness and strength is completely dependent on the depth of our spirituality. And one of the key components of moving from shallow, superficiality to deep spirituality, moving from shallow emotion to deep emotion, moving from behavior to relationship all begins with dealing with our insecurity. And so that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
want to tell you a story before we get into it. I was working with a young man not too long ago and actually prepared a study for him called rise from the ashes. And it’s someone who grown up, in and around churches for a long time and had hit the wall as a lot of us do. And as I had spiritually. A quote I read to him was from a book by Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow. The quote reads, “But I have also seen another way to deal with a fearful change or a painful loss. I call this other way The Phoenix process. Name for the mythical Phoenix Birdie remains awake through the fires of change rises from the ashes of death and as reborn into his most vibrant and enlightened self. For someone who’s been focused on behavior and those around them. Deep change is needed. And for a lot of us, the deepest part of our change begins by recognizing and overcoming our insecurities. And so today you could, you could sub theme or even primarily theme our discussion today about why insecurity matters rising from the ashes. Cause for a lot of us, the damage and dysfunction, the damage of disturbances, the damage of disillusionment has meant a direct result of the insecurity we carry. And so that’s what we’re going to try to deal with today.
And to focus on today and the article that a lot of the guys read begins this way and I’ll ask them to weigh in now and we’ll get our discussion going by starting off with just what does insecurity mean to them? And the scripture for Samuel 9:19 says, in whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line Saul answered. His answer to Samuel was, but I’m not a Benjamite from the smallest tribe of Israel and is not my clan. The least of all the clans in the tribe of Benjamin. Why do you say such things to me?
The amazing part about this is that Saul, though he was extraordinarily talented based on the scriptural descriptions that was on the outside, on the inside. He was incredibly insecure. And that’s going to be our discussion today. So we’re going to bring in our guests and let the discussion begin.
Nick Straw: My Names Nick and why insecurity matters to me. As long as I can remember, I’ve been insecure. I’ve been, I’ve been afraid of what people think.
Russ Ewell: What does insecurity mean to you? Yeah. That’s where you want to start. We want to start with first, cause a lot of people hear the word insecurity and they’re like, oh, do I even know what that is?
Nick Straw: Well, it means it’s what I see in myself or more importantly, what I believe about myself. Just like the scripture like Saul thought he was less. So when I look at myself and I’m insecure, I think I’m not good enough. I’m not talented enough. I don’t have what it takes.
Russ Ewell: So the question would be this, did Saul actually lack talent or did he think he lacked talent and where does insecurity come in?
Nick Straw: I think it’s what he believed about himself. I don’t think he lacked talent. I think it’s what he saw and what he believed about himself.
Russ Ewell:So his internal conversation.
Nick Straw: Yes, exactly.
Russ Ewell: So you would say that insecurity is about a conflict between who you are on the outside and what you believe you are on the inside and therefore you become insecure because you think people are seeing what you feel inside on the outside and that produces insecurity. Go ahead, Brian.
Brian Nitta: Well I absolutely relate to Saul and I think it is a conflict on the outside. The difference I think about insecurity is on the outside you might look a certain way, but on the inside you feel differently. And so it’s not that I perceive people to see me as lesser. It’s, I feel lesser on the inside even though I portray something differently, if that makes any sense to you.
Russ Ewell: And say that is, this isn’t even a question of talent, this is just, this is just about how I feel on the inside of,
Brian Nitta: Absolutely. Cause I think Saul, I mean by the size of who he was, what he had accomplished, he had all the gifts on the outside but I think internally, he felt something completely different and that’s what made him so insecure.
Russ Ewell: So you would say that it’s not based on talent because whether you have a little bit of talent or a lot of talent. In fact, you could have a little bit of talent, but feel real good on the inside and therefore you’re more confident than someone who has a lot of talent. Insecurity is about your internal conversation, your internal life, your internal relationship with God. You guys got any examples of that? Can you think of anything in your life.
Brian Nitta: I think for me in high school, right. Did well in school, achieved athletically. Had a lot of friends, popular, was rarely ever alone. But I remember this one moment when we had our senior graduation senior party. Everyone was having a good time. Everyone’s hugging each other, time of our lives. And I sat there for a moment thinking I’m around all these people I’ve always been around people, but I feel so lonely because no one really knows who I am on the inside. I think externally you ask anyone at that time, and they would not think I was an insecure person but I absolutely was an insecure person because no one knew certain things about me that I felt on the inside that never expressed or let people know. And so in that regard, I really relate to Saul.
Russ Ewell: So why do you think we don’t share with people what’s going on in the inside?
Brian Nitta: You know, personally, I think for me it was a fear of rejection, a fear, of failure, a fear of not measuring up to people’s expectations. And probably also a fear of being hurt, you know, cause I think insecurity, not only do you hide the things that you’re ashamed of, but also you hide the good things about you.
Russ Ewell: So you were like at this party, right? And you described it, but like if you had all those things you were doing, you know, the grades, the sports and all that. Why wouldn’t you talk about what was going on in the inside? I mean you had it going on.
Brian Nitta: Well ya, but I didn’t talk about home. I didn’t talk about family. I mean externally I had those things, but I had things going on in the home that created instability.
Russ Ewell: What kind of things do you think happened in our homes or your home or whatever you want to talk about? What are you describing? Cause some people out there will be like, hey, I can really relate to Brian, but I can’t connect yet because I haven’t heard that, compelling story that makes me go, oh yeah, that’s exactly what I felt.
Brian Nitta: I would say, you know, relationships, that was probably the big thing. There was conflict in my parent’s marriage, where there wasn’t closeness where they separated for a time. I hid that. I didn’t talk about that.
Russ Ewell: How does that create insecurity?
Ray Kim: I’m still stuck on the first question about what does insecurity mean. I mean, I kept thinking, when I lack confidence. Any moment, any relationship, any place I’m in, and I have no confidence, I equated that as that’s what insecurity meant to me in my life. And it’s the confidence of knowing, similar to what Brian was saying, am I accepted? Am I doing well enough? And growing up everything that I thought was supposed to make me secure had to do with everything on my status. I think status was a big thing for me. Status in school, status from my peers. But most importantly, I think, especially younger. It was a status that was rooted in being really competitive.
Russ Ewell: You’re saying that you think insecurity has to do with confidence? Am I hearing you right?
Ray Kim: Yes.
Russ Ewell: And then you’re talking about status help us understand better. Do you pursue status for confidence? What Brian and Nick are saying is it’s an internal thing and then you mentioned confidence, which in a sense is not an internal thing per se. Because for instance, Muhammad Ali, right? The sixties, the seventies. Float like a butterfly Sting like a bee, right? Heard that Sunny Liston wanted to go to heaven so I took him in seven. Boasting is a form of confidence, but it’s not internal. So help us tease out what you’re talking about there and feel free any of you to use the Bible and get scriptures out there that you’ve been thinking about because people would love to have some biblical application, toward what you’re saying.
Ray Kim: Yeah. I think for me, I ignored the inside. Earlier we were talking about emotions. The only emotions I knew was I was either really angry or I was really happy. That was as deep as my emotional awareness was,. And so I completely ignored what was going on the inside. Everything was about. Did I get into Berkeley? Uh, did I? Did you? Uh, yeah I got into Berkeley and that was a big quote unquote confidence booster.
Russ Ewell: You wanted to get that in there. Michigan is the only school that can wear those colors. Ok go on.
Ray Kim: What I thought was security was confidence. Okay. I’m now confident cause this school now defines, I must have done a certain amount of effort or achievement. And so it should garner more respect. And so that’s how it worked in my mind when I was 17.
Russ Ewell: Okay I have a question for you. It’s a biblical question. I’m just going to push back a little bit Biblically to get you to thinking about a couple of things. So in 1Samuel 10:20. This is an awesome passage of scripture. I love it because it helps me a lot and hope it helps those out there listening. “So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before the Lord.” Everybody in Israel comes before God. “And the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot.” So they’re trying to figure out. They’re going to appoint the king. The whole revealing moment comes. Nobody really knows who’s been chosen except a smaller subset of people. So now you’re going to find out. So Samuel brought all the tribes of Isreal before the Lord. All these people are coming in. It’s like the University of Michigan 102 thousand people stadium, all these people are in. “And the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot, then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the Lord.
So once they got the tribe, they started picking out the families, you know, a, then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the Lord and the family of Matri’s was chosen. So they get one particular family. And finally the great unveiling, right? It’s like the playoffs are coming up with college football. The great unveiling of who it’s going to be. Right. And finally, Saul, son of Kish was chosen from among them. Now let me ask this question before we read on. Were any of you guys, I wasn’t, were any of you guys Valedictorian of your class?
Brian Nitta: Nope.
Nick Straw: No.
Russ Ewell: Okay. So imagine your chosen Valedictorian of your class. Ray. We’ll take you back to high school down there in southern California. Are you feeling confident about yourself or not confident?
Ray Kim: At that moment. Yeah I am.
Russ Ewell: Okay. So watch this. “But finally Saul son of kish was chosen from among them, but when they look for him, he had disappeared. So they asked the Lord, where is he? And the Lord replied. He’s hiding among the baggage. So they found him and brought him out and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.” When you’re confident, you don’t hide. So he had a reason to be confident. He had validation that he was the man, but he’s still in my view, wasn’t secure. So you can be confident without being secure. And people in my opinion who are confident without security tend to abuse power. I lived this way especially a young spiritual leader. I had an outward confidence, but an internal insecurity. And so it was much easier for me to be harsh, insensitive, thoughtless, careless, entitled all these things. And the reason I think this is such a great discussion is on two levels.
I think a lot of us as Christians, we don’t dig into this ground and ask ourselves, what are the dysfunctions? What are the wrong definitions? What are the disillusionments? What are the hurts that have created some of the behaviors that we used to hide or not acknowledge our insecurity? So my sort of hopefully gentle push back is, I just think there’s a difference between being confident and being secure. Someone who is secure doesn’t care if they have status because their confidence, that you’re talking about, comes from inside, which is really about. I’m totally secure. Now I know I’m doing some semantic nuances here, but I think they’re important because a lot of people out there will think, yeah man, I just gotta be more secure. You know what? Security is an elusive thing. You can be secure the day you’re the Valedictorian and then you’re insecure the day you get rejected from the University of Michigan. But if you’re secure inside, whether Berkeley accepts you or doesn’t accept you, you feel pretty much the same. So I know you’re thinking about that. I see your wheels turning. So fix that up for me cause I know you’re headed in that direction. And I could be wrong, so you can feel free to destroy that point.
Ray Kim: I think thing that caught me off guard later on. So once I thought my confidence on the outside, I thought, oh, I should be secure. Then I realize there was a lot of these other emotions, the fear of rejection as Brian talked about, but also, that sense of I don’t know who I am. Okay. I’ve accomplished all these things. But once I got there, and even now I feel this, whether it’s being a dad of two kids now. Am I the Dad I’m supposed to be or not? I’m confident I have a great family. But now it’s more of, was I a good parent here when I got upset or when I overreacted to my daughter. Being a parent has less to do for me now of How does it look on the outside? But now of am I being the kind of father that my kids need me to be. And that question mark brings up just on an internal level the insecurity that I have.
Russ Ewell: What kind of, what kind of emotional impact do you think insecurity has on us? What kind of negative emotions. Because some of us out there go. How do I know if I’m insecure? Do you guys have any ideas?
Brian Nitta: I would say anxiety and stress. I mean, those are huge things that have been in my life. To me the initial question you asked was what’s the impact of loneliness or why does insecurity matter? And to me the biggest thing is loneliness. It creates us to be lonely. And you can be in a church of hundreds of people, a big family, but still be completely lonely.
Russ Ewell: You were big high school, right?
Brian Nitta: Yeah.
Russ Ewell: And you were fairly popular, right? Yet you felt alone.
Brian Nitta: Yes. I recently read an article in the Washington Post called, We Have an Epidemic of Loneliness. And it’s really interesting cause there’s a consensus that it’s not obesity, it’s not cancer or heart disease as our nation’s number one crisis but it’s actually this persistent loneliness. And it quotes the Senator Ben Sasse, who just came out with a book called Them, Why We Hate Each Other and How We Heal. And his whole premise is as he looks at statistics, and one things that was shocking to me was that in the last quarter of the 20th century, the average number of Americans entertaining in their homes have declined by 50%. And he’s talking about that there’s an erosion Rojan of the family closeness that you’re supposed to have. Little leagues are disappearing. Rotary clubs are disappearing, Where you have job stability and you have lifelong coworkers. You no longer have that. And so even though we’re way more hyperconnected, everybody’s lonely. And that’s the biggest issue that we’re facing in America. And he goes on, he gets into political realms. He goes on because people don’t feel that sense of closeness. Now people are uniting over a common enemy to feel a part of a team, which now polarizes political tribalism and different things like that. And so I feel like the biggest thing that I had been in my life, the insecurity causes loneliness. And it wasn’t a matter of how many friends I had, how much my parents love me, how much I achieved. That loneliness was an internal thing. And I can only get that from God. And that’s where I think studying the Bible, learning how to develop a relationship with God has helped me and continues to help me and I need more help with that.
Russ Ewell: So I love what you’re saying. I’d love to hear a story or two because you know, one of the things that I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on the podcast is people love it when we tell a story. That article is fantastic. That’s in the New York Times, or Washington Post. Do you remember the title of that?
Brian Nitta: That title is, is We Have an Epidemic of Loneliness and How Do We Fix It?
Russ Ewell: That’s great. So you can look that up and we’ll try to include that on the description of the of the podcast when we we’re done.
Ray Kim: Well, Halloween is around the corner, right? And I’m senior year in high school. It was me and my friends. We were the cool group, we had the basketball players, the cheerleaders, the soccer players and, and we thought, hey wouldn’t it be fun to, for this, the last “hurah” as seniors, let’s all go trick or treating in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the area. So all my friends got together and they said, you know what? Let’s do a science fiction theme. Everybody’s a sci-fi Character, right? So they said, Ray, you should do star Trek, you know, you like star Trek. So we’re going to take you to Universal Studios, get you a, a Star Trek uniform. All my friends were Luke, Han, the whole ensemble, Yoda. They said wouldn’t it’d be so cool if we showed up to school already in costume. Like we would be the coolest crew, the coolest athletes. This would be great. Oh are you guys serious? And they’re like, yeah. I’m like, okay.
So I got the little uniform thing on. I’m going in there and thinking, man, I’m feeling quote unquote confident cause I’ve got my friends my crew. I show up to first period and I see my friends, I see the girls and the guys and we were all together planning this out. They’re all in their normal clothes. And I’m the only one in a costume in first period government class. I’m sitting there. So the emotions, we’re talking about insecurity, angry. I felt angry because you made me feel this way. Completely petrified of going to my second and third period class cause I’m thinking all the glares.
Russ Ewell: And these are your friends?
Ray Kim: These were my friends.
Russ Ewell: Okay, remind me not to send my children to your school.
Ray Kim: So long story short, I go the whole day. But then by the time that I got to six or seven period after lunch, then our friends were like, a change of emotions happened. We’re like, man, we should have followed Ray. Cause now people were complimenting me. They’re like, man, that is so cool man, you’re bold and all that stuff. And so a whole plethora of emotions goes on. And I again, I was bitter. I was angry, jealous.
Russ Ewell: Now you said you were bitter, angry, jealous. Were you insecure?
Ray Kim: 100%.
Russ Ewell: I don’t understand that. Tell me how, because I didn’t hear that. I don’t know that waas in there somewhere. I’m a little slow.
Ray Kim: I was insecure because even though everybody knew me, I mean, I’d been in a school for over a decade. Everyone knew me. Everyone knew my issues, my family. I couldn’t just be myself. I couldn’t relax. Every period was like a traumatic moment of do I want to walk into my class and, and what’s the reaction going to be.
Russ Ewell: Yeah, I can see the anxiety. It’s like you’re reliving it right now. Those listening can’t see it.
Brian Nitta: I’m trying to figure out who were you, what was your character?
Ray Kim: They put me as a science officer.
Russ Ewell: Oh Wow. You should have seen it coming then Ray. First of all, what was it Lando Calrissian? Where was he? Who played him?
Ray Kim: No, actually my friend Miles was going to be him, but then he just dropped out.
Russ Ewell: That’s a total Lando move by the way. To drop out . You should’ve seen it coming. So the thing I’m sort of wrestling with as I’m sitting here is one, I’ve got sort of two things and I’m probably going to forget them. Brian said God is the way he found the answer to the insecurity. Me personally, it took me a lot longer than that.
I think when I became a Christian, developed a relationship with God, I do not think it changed my level of insecurity at all because I was totally unaware of the fact that I was insecure. Like when I became a Christian and I was like. I knew I was sinful. If anything, it made me feel more insecure.
Brian Nitta: No, I got you. And I’m not trying to say that Insecurity has been eradicated from me.
Russ Ewell: Oh, that wasn’t my point. I was trying to share from my point of view, I didn’t even make that connection.
Brian Nitta: Yeah. Well I think awareness is huge as well. Cause like you, when I think I first became a Christian. I remember feeling deeply insecure and I walked around and I thought, wow. I think Christianity messed me up. I was never this insecure before. Now I’m really insecure. And really what it was is I’ve been insecure my whole life. I just was never aware of it.
Nick Straw: Was there any scripture that helped you see that?
Brian Nitta: Yes. There was. Not one on the top of my head. I’ll have to find one for you and come back.
Russ Ewell: That’s cool. So I have a question. Well, lets let Nick get in here. He’s the Star Wars friend who didn’t dress up. H’es been pretty quiet.Or he’s for the people in the rich neighborhood. The one you were going to do trick or treating in. One of them,
Brian Nitta: The ones that give full candy bars. That’s the spot to be.
Russ Ewell: A dream unrequited.
Nick Straw: I was trying to think of a specific story, but I think I got just a whole childhood of trying to find security in different places. I grew up insecure. I was insecure about being chubby.
Russ Ewell: Chubby?
Nick Straw: I was chubby back then. I put on a little bit now, but in the primetime in middle school.
Russ Ewell: This is not diet confessions, This is a podcast about insecurity. You’re insecure about your weight. By the way Nick looks fine.
Nick Straw: But I remember sprouting up in middle school particularly, I remember it seemed like I grew five inches in the summer. All of a sudden I was like a star basketball player. I Was getting straight A’s and I remember getting all this praise from friends, from family and grandparents and I found security, if only for an hour or 30 minutes or maybe a couple of days.
As I got older, there were plenty of things I did and more and more as years went on that weren’t quote unquote good. Even just basketball, I would have a great basketball game. I’d score 20 points, then the next game I’d score six. And my security was dependent on my performance or what I could do or not do. And that would go with selfishness. It would go with using people. It would go with going to women. So I would hide all the bad stuff I did my parents wouldn’ let me listen to explicit lyrics.
Russ Ewell: So you grew up religious?
Nick Straw: Yes.
Russ Ewell: Because my with my parents, never stopped me from listening explicitly,
Nick Straw: But I would go to get the latest Snoop Dog album, which was very explicit. But I would hide all that. Right. So my security was dependent completely on actually what was on the outside. And what I could do. So the more my outside did not match up with all the other stuff that was going on on the inside. Weather, I got a bad grade and I tried to hide it from my parents, just all these things. The more I hid, the more insecure I got.
Russ Ewell: You know, what I like about your story is because I really think I want to keep this thing biblically rooted because I don’t think it’s very helpful for people if we’re just telling stories and talking and they don’t have Bible. But the thing that comes to my mind is 1 Samuel, and when you were talking about sprouting up, it made me think about something. Remember how Samuel, and I know some of you out there may not be major Bible readers. That’s totally fine.
You can go back and read 1 Samuel if you want. And probably if you just don’t wanna read the whole book, pick up in chapter three, because that’s when Samuel comes onto the scene. And not long after that you’ll see Saul. But when we first see Saul, who’s the subject of our discussion in a lot of ways about insecurity, he’s looking for I think a lost donkey. Right. So he’s just this guy, and he’s with a servant and he’s basically a farmer’s kid who’s big job of the day is going out and finding a lost donkey. That was his big job. Not King, not warrior, wasn’t killing people, wasn’t winning battles. He was a donkey guy. You guys ever play, you’re probably too young for this. But did you ever play Donkey Kong.
Brian Nitta: Oh yeah.
Nick Straw: Little bit.
Russ Ewell: Donkey Kong. So he was looking for a donkey. Think about that for a minute. That’s his job. And then he goes from being a donkey seeker to being king. What can we probably guess, I’m just guessing when he was younger and doing donkey searches, he was a smaller guy. Not as buff, not a javelin wielding, shield holding, helmet wearing dude, he was a guy. Cause you don’t need a javelin and you don’t need a shield and you don’t need a sword to find a donkey. In fact, he’s with the servant and the servant he’s with knows way more about how to find the donkeys and how to find the profits than he does.
So he’s like a kid. When you look at him, he goes from being this kid to all of a sudden this king. Hey, I like that phrase. He goes from kid to king. And then what happens is, and I’m listening to your story, Nick and it’s just perfect, right? What happens is all of a sudden this kid who still probably a kid on the inside is taller than anybody else, bigger than anybody else. But inside he’s still a kid. So what you’re talking about is even when the outside is set up perfectly, the inside requires a totally different set of things to be able to be secure.
You might be sitting out there going, I’ve got a 4.0 and I’m going to get into Harvard or Yale or Stanford or the University of Michigan or wherever it is you want to go. I got all that set. But as Brian said, he said, lonely. I would go, I just don’t feel satisfied. I don’t feel happy. I still feel like something’s missing. Like that Bono U2 Song, you know, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. And if you’re out there and you’re younger, you got to go look up that song because that band is probably better than the band you’re listening to. But then he’s called out in the middle of the crowd. Come on out of here man. You’re the king. Lebron James. Get out here. And he runs and he hides because what’s going on inside of him. It’s way different than what’s going on outside of him. We hope to talk to you more about this subject of insecurity in part two.