When I was really young and reckless, and I mean really young and really reckless, I believed that I was quite invincible. If someone beat me in a race, or received a higher grade than me in a test… they had simply been lucky. But even when I was so young I was bothered by the confidence, or the lack thereof in my mother’s friends. In fact I didn’t think they were lacking in confidence, because they did the most amazing things – had incredible gardens, created beautiful handwork, took their kids on amazing trips… I thought they were just really bad at receiving compliments.
You know a typical conversation: “You look great in that outfit!!!” Followed by, “Oh, this old thing… I dragged it from the back of the donate pile and haven’t worn it in twenty years…” I know for myself that if someone says that I am looking fab on a particular day, I will wonder in my head if they actually need to refresh their spectacle prescription… You have to know what I mean… I am hopeless at receiving compliments and I think women in general are pretty good at deflecting a compliment rather than accepting them graciously. The point is, my mom’s friends not only lacked confidence, but they were hopeless compliments.
I have come to realise that the lack of confidence is really something that grows on you. Now that I am older, I realise that I am a lot less invincible!!! It might begin with a nasty comment in the playground, and maybe a teacher telling you that your best effort was a pathetic effort. You only need two or three comments like that a year and my goodness the older you get the more your confidence has been chipped at – literally. It is human nature for us to remember all the negative things people say to us, and dare I say, blissfully forget all the lovely things folk say. These negative comments do indeed become our inner critics. And I can clearly see why my mum’s friends had little confidence.
And I have been thinking about this a little bit – who are we to lack confidence… take a look at 2 Timothy 1:7…
Nowadays, there is perpetual pressure to be someone else, to look like someone else, to achieve like somebody else, to study like somebody else. I think the media has a lot to answer for as through the ages the “ultimate media mother” has on the one hand become quite daunting to live up to. And then again, moms of little ones are often presented as “just bleh” about everything… the dishes aren’t done, the kids are late for bed night after night, the laundry pile is – well let’s not mention it. The truth is, there will always be folk doing things somewhat better than we are and others who are not doing as well as we are. Either way… pondering upon what other folks are up to can really turn our inner critics into a multitude of voices.
Not to mention, very often as a mom your outer critics can become your inner critics… those little faces sitting around the kitchen table are not going to think you are the most awesome person on earth forever… I know it is a bit of a shocker but you try serving spinach three nights in a row, because the vegi-garden crop has arrived!!! There comes a time when you will say “to-mae-toe” and they will say “to-ma-to…” And consequently, you may not always find a picture of yourself with fairly wings and a crown, gently placed on your keyboard in the morning. It can happen, and there will be times when you were right and you need to hold your ground and there will be as many, if not more times, when you may have been a little quick to react and you need to apologise. And those little outer critics can quickly add to your growing collection of inner critics… Just saying!!!
For me it is reassuring to know that my confidence, my belief that I can get stuff done – despite the media saying that mom’s have so many reasons not to cope, is that it isn’t up to me at all… Philippians 1:6
The thing about confidence is that it is an inner strength that radiates from somebody… an attitude. The confident person knows what they ought to be doing, they know how to do it and they are doing it. It doesn’t matter if their clothes are off the cover of a magazine or not, it doesn’t matter if their hair-do is trendy. God provides us each with unique gifts and we must use them. But, how often we turn away, in the name of “lack of confidence.” How about not worrying if our hospitality is good enough… honestly it is time to stop worrying about other people think, about what other folk are doing and to claim our gifts and use them to make the difference they are meant to make. There will always be someone who can serve five hundred guests with dinner on silver platters, while all you can rustle up is mis-matched mugs and a cup of coffee… think about it: How often do you need a cup of coffee and a friend to talk to rather than dinner on a silver platter.
In fact, being confident doesn’t necessarily mean doing something wildly dramatic. Often living a life true to what you believe shouts out confidence to those around us – including those ever watchful children of ours. I think the biggest chips to our self-confidence may well be our own: Doing just one more thing when we really need a rest, fatigue is not the best confidence builder; Comparing ourselves to others; Not getting enough exercise or fresh air; Dwelling on what isn’t working right now… instead of noticing what is getting done. Just not making sure that we have enough fun, can drag us down so low and make us feel so unable to cope… how quickly we become the great domestic martyr, the antithesis of the person God wants us to be.
Lacking in confidence can cause us to be silent when we should speak out… and can prevent us from fulfilling our God-given destiny, it is a case of know your stuff, train for the event and dare to be different. Right now my children are the champions of the world, it is not something they have to be told… they know it. They own it, they claim it… they know they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14.) Long may that confidence last. And because they are watching… more than ever I need to be confident, to live my daily life according to what I believe… being disciplined enough to turn off this inner critics and do what I know needs to be done. Not huge projects, not seeking out massive plots and plans that make me look like I am achieving great stuff… just a faithful, daily walk with the Lord. I am relieved to say that it is not up to me to achieve this, but God does say: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)