I had just finished speaking to a group of women. Someone from the back of the room walked toward me, “You look so young from the back of the room.”
“How nice,” I thought.
“But now that I’m close to you, I can see you’re pretty old.”
What do you say to that? Thank you?
We’ve all received back-handed compliments, put downs, or criticism. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve had moments of glory.
And moments we’ve fallen on our faces.
Do you struggle confidence?
I do. Maybe I’m not supposed to admit it.
In the world’s eyes, confidence is a basic staple in the pantry of our personality. We spend a great deal of time building confidence, learning skills, improving our looks, and proving we’ve got what it takes.
I can do this is the mantra of this world shouting long and loud for all to hear.
In our personal world, there’s always someone who can tell you what you should have done better. We compare ourselves to others, and there is always someone younger, smarter, thinner, prettier…
You know the drill all to well, right?
How many of us feel shame that we struggle with confidence? As if it is the cosmic no-no on the stage of a successful and fulfilling life.
We are constantly bombarded with the images, standards, an expectations of what we should look like and what we should be able to accomplish. And yet, one of the deep struggles of every soul is this: Am I enough?
Every single soul. Not one of us is exempt from the accusations that whisper in the dark, “You’ll never be ____.”
Remember the commercial for Enjoli perfume? The woman who could bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan… This woman has become an icon of the confident woman who can do it all and never break a sweat.
Confidence doesn’t come just for the asking.
We cannot simply will ourselves to be confident. Unlike Dorothy and her glittery red slippers, we cannot click our heels and repeat, “I am confident” three times and will ourselves to be confident.
We cannot chase inadequacy away with better performance and enhanced looks. For here is the trap–how much is enough? How many affirmations and successes will fill the questions of our souls?
Long ago, the serpent asked the first woman, “did God really say you shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” And thus began our struggle with confidence and adequacy.
You may wonder how I’ve jumped from conversations with the serpent to a basic human struggle with adequacy. The serpent went on to say, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
And there it is, the great lie:
We can be like God.
We can be like God becomes the expectation that we should be like God.
And we’re not.
Why do we struggle with confidence?
As soon as Adam and Eve ate the apple, their eyes were opened to their nakedness. Instead of discovering the wonder of being like God, they found the shame of nakedness exposed. Rather than running with confidence, they cowered and hid their flaws.
The struggle for confidence and adequacy comes from looking to ourselves rather than looking to God. Appearance and performance becomes definitive of who we are. Before the fall, Adam named his mate woman–calling her by her identity, who she was (Genesis 2:23). After the fall, Adam calls her Eve because she is a mother. He names her by what she does, rather than who she is (Genesis 3:20).
The struggle with confidence and adequacy comes when we loose sight of who we are and measure our worth by what we do.
Where do we find true confidence?
“Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).
My adequacy is from God.
Your adequacy is from God.
This is a powerful truth that silences the squabbling our our souls. When our confidence and adequacy come from God, we find freedom to fully become the people God created us to be.
So often we struggle, trying to have confidence in ourselves by seeking the affirmations of others and the successful performance.
It will never work. We might feel good for a time, but true confidence cannot come from the approval of others or good results from your work.
Confidence is a gift from God.
So you can stop inspecting yourself. You can combat the negative thinking that says, “I’m not enough.”
Inspecting ourselves and fixing our flaws cannot satisfy the need of our souls to feel adequate.
“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]” (Ephesians 2:10 AMP).
How has the struggle for confidence impacted you lately?