Self-loathing, comparison and self doubt are the easiest ways to steal from us the joy and unique blessings in our life. Comparison tells me that it doesn’t matter how much I appreciate something, but rather what someone else would think of it; It tells me to not be content unless I can think of no one else who would be content with my circumstances.
I don’t know about guys, in fact I’ll leave that blog for someone else’s writing, but I know for girls that this isn’t a one-off rare experience. I know so many personal instances and so many of my friends throughout life, when affirmation becomes our oxygen and compliments are clung to like sustenance to keep us going. The need to hear others confirm our purpose, value or beauty, as opposed to that quiet sustaining source inside, is an exhausting pursuit. The need is never satisfied and the thirst never quenched.
Ever since I have been in a relationship I’ve noticed this more in myself. This new level of honesty and vulnerability revealed so much to me about myself (some things I wished were easier to hide). I’d regularly hear myself belittling my ability or skill, even in scenarios where I should’ve been fairly confident. I’m not sure whether it was a fear of sounding boastful, or a genuine belief that what I was good at just wasn’t worth talking about (maybe I wasn’t even good at it at all).
I’ll give you an example. A friend pointed out to me when I first went live with this blog that in my colloquial description of my writing I’d called it my “ramblings”. Before I’d even written my first article, let alone heard any responses, I’d already dismissed my work as unclear, thoughtless, trivial posts, which none would find interesting. She told me she thought that description was inaccurate, so with some consideration I changed it.
I didn’t even give myself a chance, at something I’d never done before, to wait and see if I was any good and to trust the instinct within me that lead me to start the blog in the first place.
Throughout growing up, I have been so afraid of the repulsiveness associated with boasting and pride that my instinct has slipped too far the other way. I had failed to notice that my avoidance of arrogance has lead to an instinctive underestimation of myself. In fact you don’t need to Google too much before you discover that this is a massive trend amongst women; there’s even talk of a “Confidence Gap” where women do less well in achieving positions they’re more than capable of because they lack the confidence to reinforce their competence.
Whilst an inner-confidence is the ultimate goal here, as a Christian I should care about the source of this. The bible mentions time and again about God’s steadfastness and praises an identity strongly rooted in the things which God says about us. Take a glance at these just for a taster:
1 Corinthians 12:27
Yet despite these truths I find myself time and again drifting back into the cycle of receiving affirmation from others; then finding ambition to do more; beginning to doubt my capabilities and finally reaching a dismissal of all I’ve achieved.
I do myself (let alone the young women around me) no favours to live this way. When I live a life ignoring the freeing truth that God has told me, and reject the fullness of life on offer to me when I live life like I believe I’m worthy of it.
This is a lesson I wish I could learn over night, but like many, sometimes it takes a few attempts before it sinks in. I’m sure I’ll find myself re-reading my own blog to remind myself of lesson already walked through. But I ask you:
What would your life look like right now if you were to believe that you were made, loved, capable and worthy of all life has to offer?
How would you face failure, knowing this truth never changes, regardless of how you feel?
How could it impact those around you (perhaps your siblings, children or friends) if you were to exemplify this inner confidence?
Before Jesus had even begun his time of ministry on earth, before there was even one miracle in sight, at his baptism, God said he loved him and was pleased with him (Matthew 3:17). Just like a perfect father, God is pleased with his creation – he is pleased with you; maybe he’s not pleased with the wrong things we do sometimes, but his love is far too powerful to be stopped by that.
As we look around and hear of millions and millions across the generations finding fault in themselves, losing hope in their futures and lacking the confidence to pursue their potential – what a powerful difference it could make for them to know a love that is strong enough to anchor them through the strongest of storms and highest of waves they may feel they find themselves in.