It’s incredible what life can do to your confidence, isn’t it?
How many of you remember the hurtful comments said to you at school as if it was yesterday? I’ll never forget being attention being drawn to my lanky legs, pale complexion, lack of trendy clothes, weird accent or total absence of sporting ability.
As an adult, every time someone laughs or draws attention to a weakness of mine in a group of people, I feel the same twinge inside.
Perhaps like me, although you’ve learned to laugh it off, you still can’t help but feel small and self conscious inwardly.
Sometimes I wish I could be four again, or seven, or even ten.
My mum and dad will tell you that at four years of age I was fearless – the epitome of confidence.
I used to chase wild boars out of our garden with not a thought for dangerous they were. I would collect locusts, frogs and spiders and hide them in my suitcase at boarding school. My poor sister got a toad planted on her pillow one night. I navigated the daily risk of accidentally stepping on a snake with total nonchalance and ease.
I also hadn’t a care for what people thought; sometimes to the utter embarrassment of my parents, who were absolutely mortified when I told a man in the supermarket who had a ponytail that I thought his hair was ‘disgusting’ (Cringe!)
My mind was overflowing with ideas, and always full of faith that I could carry them out. I went on a flight alone at the age of seven, and had no qualms about bussing it all round the country as early as ten years old. I wrote letters of complaint to local officials and was the first person in our family to buy a suitcase with wheels, and to purchase and use a mobile phone.
Zoë reminds me so much of me as a little girl. The first time we took her to the beach, she ran straight into the water. No fear whatsoever. She’s learned how to hold a pencil, write letters, play tunes on the piano, pretty much all by herself. She’s confident in who God made her, and she’ll try anything.
Isn’t it sad though, that by the time we are adults, many of us are better at dwelling on our imperfections than our potential?
One day around a year ago, I got up and looked in the mirror. I did not like what I saw… Dark circles, freckles, wrinkles, jeans too tight. I’m ashamed to say I was feeling sorry for myself. Fast forward to getting Zoë dressed for the day; I told her she looked lovely in her wee outfit, and she beamed and said, ‘Yes, I am beautiful, because God MADE me beautiful.’
Just last week, a similar thing happened. I’d spent the whole day recording and wincing at every dodgy note as I listened to it afterwards, then Zoë watches herself belting out a nursery rhyme on video and says, ‘Wow, I really can sing so well mummy. God has given me a great voice.’
When a four year old says this, it doesn’t sound like conceit or pride. So what happens between the age of four and fourteen? What comes about between the ages of fourteen and forty?
Some people seem to have escaped the confidence hit. My husband has an inspirational amount of it! From tiling floors to fixing cars, he’s tried it all with a can do attitude. Why? He knows that God has made him a certain way, and he embraces it to the nth degree. I learn from him everyday that confidence and arrogance are not the same thing. Confidence is a feeling of trust in someone or something. Arrogance, on the other hand, is being full of self-importance and having a feeling of superiority over others.
How can we teach our kids to keep their confidence into adulthood without them becoming arrogant?
Maybe we should teach them not how to have confidence in themselves, but in the competence of the One who made them. If you know that God himself is your Creator, then you know he has made you well and designed you with a particular purpose in mind.
As Albert Einstein put it, ‘if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’ We so often dwell on what’s missing in us, instead of what God has put into us.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. For a purpose. Never forget it. A squirrel is made to climb trees, and a fish is made to swim. You can’t be and do everything, and neither should you.
So the next time someone points out a weakness in you, if it’s true, acknowledge it. But don’t let it affect your confidence. You were made with a purpose in mind. Trust that the One who made you did a perfect job.
And walk it out like a four year old!