Self-confidence is a weird thing. If you’re like me, it’s been kind of elusive. In elementary school…middle school (ugh)…high school…college….post-college…I never had that confidence factor. I was never fully comfortable in my own skin, and I was never able to feign that confident poise I saw in the other girls. Some girls have it and, well, some girls don’t.
Friends used to tell me to just feel better about myself. Just, you know….do it. Just make the choice and then *boom* feel confident.
They would tell me all kinds of wonderful things they saw in me. They’d compliment my wit…how smart I was…how well I could do this or that or the other thing. While I appreciated their efforts, it didn’t work.
Family members tried the same approach. So did teachers. I even had my college advisor give me the “buck up and believe in yourself” talk. Again: nice effort. I appreciated that they all cared so much and saw such wonderful things in me, the truth remained that when I looked at myself in the mirror or in my mind’s eye, I did not like what I saw. I saw no reason for confidence; I saw only reasons to hide.
I never was able to conjure up the whatever-it-took to feel good about myself. And do you know what? I still haven’t.
Even now, where I am in life and with all that I’ve seen and done and experienced and learned, I have very little self-confidence. And the truth is, I want even less than what I have now.
This idea of confidence in myself….it’s something I’ve never understood. I’ve never been able to do it. And I think there, in my inability to “do” or “find” self-confidence, I might have found what makes self-confidence so mysterious.
Confidence – real confidence that permeates heart and soul and spirit – is not something I, or anyone else, can conjure. It’s not something I can will myself to feel. I can’t force it. I can’t even fake it.
Real confidence, in my experience and I believe by God’s plan, can only come when we stop looking at ourselves and begin looking at the One who made us. We have to stop looking at the wonderful things about ourselves – those things our friends and loved ones point out as reasons to feel good about ourselves. We have to take that focus off ourselves and begin looking at the One who placed any and all good things within us in the first place.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)
Those gifts…the things that others see in us as praiseworthy…are not meant to be what inspire confidence in ourselves. Those gifts are all meant to point our attention to the One who gave them. Any attempt, therefore, to summon confidence in ourselves from deep within ourselves will fail. It may appear to work…but it is a shifting shadow. An unmet goal…a foolish decision…a poorly chosen word…they all have the ability to crush confidence that rests on temporal, earthly things.
Confidence that rests elsewhere, though, will never fall. Confidence that looks upward will not slip.
So this lifelong pursuit of self-confidence has, hopefully, ended. What I know now is that if I’m going to feel good about who I am, I cannot do so by looking at myself. I have to look to the Author of truth for the truth about who I am, and there – only there – will I find reason to be confident.
That purpose for life that we talked about? I feel more confident since finding mine…but it has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with seeing good things inside myself. It has to do with God – who placed that purpose and all of the gifts related to it within me. Looking at myself, I’ll never be secure and confident. Looking at him…I always will be.