Standing Taller

The playground was more crowded than usual but my daughter ran directly to the “bumpy slide”, a favorite of many. Constructed of steel rollers, every kid loved to vocalize on their way down like we did going down stairs on our bottoms.
 
She was standing patiently in line when a group of boisterous boys jostled her out of her place. They were older and bigger than she was, but that didn’t faze her. Incensed, my daughter put her hands on her hips, raised her chin, and in no uncertain terms, called them out for their behavior. They looked shocked, stopped their roughhousing and let her back in line in front of them.
 
She was three years old.
 
I stood in awe. It was the first of many realizations I’d have over the years that she and I were different in fundamental ways.
 
I recalled this memory after finishing a recent post about confidence. If you missed that one you can read it here.
 
Certainly the word “assertive” also aptly describes my daughter’s response. But it’s an assertiveness born of confidence.
 
Where does confidence come from?
 
Are some children just born with more confidence than others? Working with children and having one of my own makes me inclined to say yes.
 
But if confidence isn’t wrapped in the double helix of DNA, skilled parenting and sensitive teachers can certainly help it develop. In short, our upbringing plays a role in whether we enter adulthood with confidence to face the challenges of life, or with trepidation that we’re not up for the task.
 
But once we become adults, with whatever reserve of confidence we were afforded by genetics, parenting and experience, what else builds confidence?
 
Having a skill builds confidence. When one my students makes rapid progress, I feel confident in my skills as a speech and language therapist. And confidence in one area has a way of seeping into seemingly unrelated territory. When I’ve had a good day at work with my students, I feel energized and ready to tackle other challenges, no matter how daunting they seemed the day before.
 
Giving and receiving love and support builds confidence. It’s easier to face whatever the day may bring when you know there are people who will listen, give a hug, or provide valuable advice. Being able to provide love and support to another person also feeds our soul and sense of self.
 
Facing and overcoming a challenge can develop confidence. Patsy Clairmont, the funny and self-assured speaker who has spent the past thirty-five years traveling the United States inspiring women of faith, used to be agoraphobic. Overcoming such a limiting and debilitating condition helped her reach millions of women with her compassion and message of hope.
 
I’m sure there are more sources of confidence, but they all have an inherent flaw. The very circumstance that bolstered confidence can also destroy it if, and often when, the pendulum swings in the opposite direction. The job can be taken away, sometimes challenges cannot be overcome, and a person you love can also hurt you terribly.
 
My confidence has certainly been derailed many times through failure, disappointment, and betrayal. Circumstances are undoubtedly not reliable sources of confidence.
 
So if we didn’t grow into adulthood with a deep and resilient well of confidence, and if events in our lives have compromised what we had, what do we do? How do we regain what we were born with or worked hard to acquire?
 
For me, my faith gives me the only true source of confidence, because I know that God tells us repeatedly that we are loved. We are accepted. We are not alone. Our mistakes and shortcomings are forgivable.
 
And I know God can be trusted to keep His many promises. He promises He’ll never leave our side on this journey. He promises to uphold us in times of trouble. He promises that His love is never ending and we cannot lose our place in His kingdom. Our job is to obey, repent, forgive others, and trust Him.
 
I don’t know about you, but those promises give my confidence a boost. I return to them again and again whenever my confidence wavers, which is more often than I care to admit.
 
But reminding myself of God’s promises gives me confidence to face my fears. To persevere through hardships. To go after dreams. To try new things.
 
And to speak up when necessary.
 
Maybe my daughter and I aren’t so different after all. It just took me longer to get there.
 
 
How about you? Do you consider yourself a confident person? Where does your confidence come from?
 
Scripture for Reflection
 
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
 
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
 
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10
 
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
 
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
 
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16
 
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Psalm 46:5
 
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

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