I remember being in high school, arms collapsed on top of my chemistry homework and in tears. I couldn’t do it. Then I felt my dad’s gentle touch on my back and heard him say, “you are capable, Kel.” I’ve been on a life long journey of trying to believe those words, and to learn to receive that confidence, not only from an outside authority, but from within. Doubting myself is one of my biggest hurdles in many aspects of my life.
When Mike and I started trying to get pregnant, doubt showed up in new ways. When friends asked me about fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder, and how it would affect a pregnancy, I internalized that to mean that they perceived me to be weak and unwise to pursue this dream. When we dealt with 3.5 years of infertility, friends interpreted the mystery as God protecting me from suffering that my body couldn’t handle. I searched for a voice like my dad’s to tell me the opposite — that I was capable and strong.
This time, the confidence didn’t come from the outside. Confidence arose as Jesus helped me listen to my own body. He reminded me that I was already well acquainted with my strengths and limitations. Because of fibromyalgia, I had spent over a decade learning how to listen to my body’s pain signals, knowing when I needed to slow down or provide some extra comfort. Often throughout pregnancy, as I have stopped to pay attention to what’s happening inside of me, that confident voice within me that is most connected to the Holy Spirit, has whispered, “You can trust me. Your body can do far more than you think.”
When we are young, having authoritative or parental figures in our lives assuring us of our capabilities can be really helpful. But when we mature, we learn to find that authority from within. The more we allow God to teach us about ourselves and make us self-aware, the more that internal confidence can grow. Sometimes it is that very familiarity with our limitations that makes us strong. I know I will never be a famous chemist, nor will I ever run marathons. And that is just fine. But I know how to trust my body to tell me what it can and can’t do. I have learned from Jesus how to be attentive to myself and to listen for where I may need some more love or grace. And it is this attentiveness that makes me strong.
How do you deal with internal doubts? How might Jesus want to help you shift your focus from looking for external affirmation to finding that confidence from within? How has your own self-awareness of your strengths and limitations helped you become more confident?
Note to reader: I took a long break from blogging because all my creative energy went into writing a book about attentiveness. I’m excited to have that book out soon and will keep you posted when it’s available!