Saturday Self-Confidence Boost

Posted By on June 12, 2010

"Self-Portrait" Giclee Print

My favorite uncle growing up was my Uncle Kid.

He is my grandmother’s older brother, a Vietnam vet who was always super sweet about letting me talk his ear off on Grandmother’s front porch while he twirled his cigarette around in his slender fingers, wizened eyes lighting up with real interest while he listened to me. He calls me “Little J” and to this day, I can be sure that when he walks into a room and he knows that I’m in town, he’ll say a polite hello to everyone standing, but will open his arms and ooze warmth when he croons, “There’s my Little J -how are you, baby girl?” And I’m ten years old again, talking to someone who is going to hang on every word I say.

He never laughed so hard as when I told him the story of winning runner up in my school’s art competition the summer of my ninth year. He asked if I was disappointed that I hadn’t gotten first place, but I just shrugged one shoulder. “I was really upset that I didn’t get second place -that’s what I usually get. I’m a  second place kind of girl. There’s always someone just a little bit smarter than I am -a little bit funnier -a little bit better at whatever we’re doing. But I’m pretty okay with second place.”

Now, that’s the kind of talk this retired Marine -who helped my grandmother to raise my dad through his hardest teen years -usually would have berated you for -we always shoot for first place! But all he could do just then was laugh. “Little J, I think you’re more special than you think you are, ’cause sometimes I’m not sure you’re only nine years old when you’re talking to me.”

Here’s the thing about me: I’m really not that special.

No, I mean, seriously. I know it can sound like false modesty when a person says something like that, but you should honestly hear me out: there is always someone who is smarter, funnier, prettier, faster, more well-read, kinder, gentler, better educated, and humbler than I am. Always.

I don’t have self-esteem issues: I have self-knowledge issues. You can compliment me from here to June, 2020, and while I won’t doubt your sincerity, I’ll doubt the fact that you really know what you’re talking about: after all, who knows me better than me? And who knows my unworthiness of praise better than I do?

My worst nightmare sometimes is sitting across the table talking to my future husband the first time he tells me he loves me… and knowing deep down that someday, I’m going to mess up -he’s going to be disappointed with me -the warm fuzzies will dissipate and I’ll be standing before him better-known: just un-special me, no longer veiled in the perfect armor of sweet nothings.

A big topic of conversation out there today is filing young women with self-esteem -you are beautiful -you are talented -you are worth it! Douse those insecurities, girlfriend -your imperfections are what make you perfect!

Here’s my heart for introspective young ladies like nine-year-old “Little J” -even if, as it’s true sometimes of me, that insecure nine-year-old is lurking in a twenty-year-old’s body -you’re not perfect, girlfriend.

And get rid of the pride that causes you to beat yourself up over it.

I know: self-esteem issues are usually tied to a lack of personal pride, are they not? Self-conscious Susie doesn’t think she’s all that special -she’s the opposite of Prideful Patsy because Patsy thinks she’s more special than she is!

But pride works in two ways. I’m going to have to show my secret affinity for Jane Austen by relying on a quote from Mary Bennet to illustrate it for me:

“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.

(And as an aside, raise your hand if you identify with Mary, that poor, passed-over sister without the happy ending?) I would say that there are two sorts of prideful people: arrogant, preening people… and people who mourn loudly over how they aren’t as special as everyone else. Both have an issue of thinking more of themselves than they ought: the first person thinks they have arrived at perfection -the second thinks they ought to be perfect.

You see, I happen to believe we are truly humble, we spend much less time bemoaning the fact that there are “better” people out there than we are and more time in awestruck humility at the grace of God, who -if he can use a talking donkey to proclaim truth (Number 22:1-35) -can certainly use us fallible human beings to walk in his ways (Matthew 29:19ff)!

I am special because I am a vessel to be used by God. Ladies, that’s all the distinction I need. Winning a contest, making someone laugh, getting a compliment on your looks or your brains? That’s just icing on the cake -those are just peripheral issues. You are special because you were ransomed -and I am special for the very same reason. My talents are only special insofar as I can use them to glorify God -and the very same can be said of everyone else who professes faith in Christ Jesus. When we truly realize who we are in Jesus… those mournful, moping self-esteem issues should fade into hope and joy! And they should transform, not only how we look at ourselves, but how we look at others.

The key to self-confidence is to let the myth of it slide through your fingertips and to embrace humility:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being  of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,even death on a cross.  Therefore  God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~Philippains 2:1-11

Trying to love yourself more is the least of your worries -love God -love others (Matthew 22:37-29): those are the chief commandments… and just to show us how easy it is to love ourselves, Jesus tells us that we should lavish that same level of love on our neighbors.

Here’s the truth about you and me: we all want to be that little girl, sitting next to our uncle on that front porch, his eyes and heart focused on us. Listen, I’m not knocking it: being in the presence of my grandmother’s seven siblings -who each in turn have treated me like I hung the moon -were some of my favorite childhood memories -I hope you’re a daddy’s girl or a mama’s girl who has known what it’s like to have someone love you -not because you’re the best or brightest -but just because you’re you: imperfections and all. I want to marry a man who loves me with the unconditional love that only the Lord can give… despite the fact that I don’t deserve it -and since my husband will not be perfect, I’m praying for that love to give him as well.

But I also hope that that little girl is able to grow out of that need for constant affirmation and praise -from others and from an inward sense of empowerment -and to grow into a gracious young woman who is able to turn her focus towards others. May we be women who find our confidence, not in proclaiming that, “We’re every woman -it’s all in us!” but in serving and seeking the best interest of those around us -may we be humbled by our unworthiness in the face of the love of Christ, which surrounds us in his grace, and in his people -and may we lavish that love on others before seeking self-love.

How’s that for a “self-esteem” boost?
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About The Author

Jasmine is the oldest of Voddie and Bridget Baucham's seven children. She is a homeschool graduate who enjoys studying and writing about areas as varied as theology, philosophy, political science, art, film and culture. She is also an aspiring author who currently lives at home where she continues to assist her father in his research, is completing a degree in English literature, has written a book called, Joyfully at Home based on her old blog by the same title and is blessed to assist her mother with the care of her younger siblings. You can now find her rambling occasionally at All She Has to Say

Comments

2 Responses to “Saturday Self-Confidence Boost”

  1. Amen and amen, Jasmine! You are wise beyond your years. If I had understood this when I was 19, I would have saved myself many years of grief. Praise God that He gently and lovingly humbles us as He recreates us in the Image of His servant-hearted Son!

  2. Joy says:

    This is just what I need to hear! Thank you for the writing this article!

    Doing this would save us a lot of heartache and pain.