Is confidence seeing yourself as others do? Or is it seeing yourself as you would like to be seen? Is it being fierce and fabulous or quiet and sure? Or is it just being content with the way you are?
The point may be moot since I’ve never met a woman who was completely confident in herself. We may be confident in some areas of our lives and looks but not with our whole body and life, and not all the time. There’s always something we’d like to change. There’s always something we’d like to do better, or more of, or less of.
Some of these insecurities run deep. Some of us take prescription meds to function. Some of us self-medicate in other ways. Some of us try and hide what we don’t want people to see. Some of us just can’t bring ourselves to believe what others tell us. Why? Because it’s arrogant to believe we’re great? Because its vulgar to brazenly accept compliments? Because we can’t, in the deepest darkest places of our hearts, believe that kind of thing is true?
Not me, we think. Not me. And we laugh a little too hard, or shrug it away, or blush and change the subject. All the while we live our lives in clothes that are a bit too big, so we can cover the lumps and bumps, and not saying things because we might show ourselves up, or saying things we don’t mean so people don’t find out what we really think.
It’s all about hiding. As though if people saw or knew the real us, they wouldn’t like it.
As Christians, there is an extra anxiety. In the book of Romans, it says “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. Not me, we think. It’s a knee-jerk reaction in our brains. Not me. God couldn’t love me. Christ didn’t die for me.
We know in our brains that God loves us. But believing it is something else.
Why? When God has shown his love by sacrificing his own son to bring us to him, why would we doubt for a second his love for us?
You know, I think its because our faith is in ourselves rather than in him. That sounds wrong because surely with low self-esteem, we have no faith in ourselves! But actually, if we believe our self-talk rather than God’s, what does that say? Our faith is in what we think about ourselves, rather than what God has explicitly said about us.
I have been learning a lot lately about life and faith and courage. I feel stronger in spirit and closer to God than ever before. And yet, in my head, I am a lumpy old potato. That is not how God sees me.
A friend recently bought me a make-over and photo session. I would never normally do something like that I have to admit I was terrified and cried a bit too – I knew I wanted to look fabulous, but there is the whole potato-truth thing. There is no photo that can cover that up.
Well, I did it. And it was hard. But it was so worth it. It really made me question where self-image comes from, and why I find it so hard to believe God over myself.
So how do we believe it? Here’s my thinking:
Give it time. You can’t believe something overnight. Especially something as intensely personal as this. Allow it to percolate through your thinking over time. Which leads to my second marker;
Think about it. Don’t avoid thinking about it. Actually make a point of ruminating on it. Thinking about it repeatedly makes it normal, and it needs to be normal.
Take the focus off yourself and put it on God. Let’s stop thinking in terms of what I think about myself and instead think about what God thinks. Write it down. Writing it down makes it concrete. You can go back and look at it in black and white. It’s real.
What would you write? Try thinking about all the amazing things that you do and are. Here’s some starters – God sees me as:
- His child
- His chosen one
- A mum
- A woman who can make my kids feel better just by hugging them
- A woman who strives to learn about God
- A woman of enormous curiosity
Try it. Keep adding to it. If you’re so inclined, scrapbook it. Add pictures. Draw on it. Do it with friends if you find it too hard to start. Do what you like. But on those days when you need it, go and review it and know that the list is written in your hand, and be inspired by how God sees you and your ability to see it too.
Finally, know that having confidence is a quiet thing and its not a forever thing. It is quiet because it is a calm knowledge of how God sees you, which will always be better than we see ourselves. And its not a forever thing because it’s not like we can “get confidence” and then keep it forevs. It rises and falls, it ebbs and flows. There will be good days and bad days. But not for God. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Ephesians 1:4
In the meantime, here’s what a lumpy old potato looks like when you put make-up on it.