Self-Confidence

If you post nothing but positivity and perfection on social media, you make everyone else feel bad.  While everyone also believes that there is absolutely no way your life is that perfect.

You’re just faking it.

You shouldn’t brag about your accomplishments.

But you shouldn’t have low self-esteem.

Do this.

Don’t do that.

Act this way.

Don’t be absurd.

Why are you being like that?

Just be real.

Oh, but not that real.

Share your feelings.

But only if they’re positive.

But be real.

Admit your struggles.

But don’t talk bad about yourself.

Have self-confidence.

But be humble about it.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Because it certainly does to me.  There is such a fine line between self-confidence and self-deprecation that it’s truly a wonder if any of us have a small measure of mental health.

After a lifetime of never feeling like I was good enough, or smart enough, or just plain enough…I finally feel like I’m maybe, almost making a little bit of progress.  Not to say that this isn’t a daily struggle.  Because it is.

But…

I know that I do not need to settle for anything less that I deserve.  And when I say that, I mean…I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m strong, I’m stubborn, I’m funny, I’m kind, I’m a million different things.

And when I say that I shouldn’t settle for anything less than what I deserve, I will not settle for anything less than someone or something that sees who I truly am, and isn’t fearful of that.  I will not surround myself with people who choose to put me down instead of lift me up.

We often get so focused on what other people think of us, and how other people make us feel about ourselves that we lose sight of what is truly important.

God.

Not only who God is to us…Father, Creator, Friend, Strength…but also who we are to God…loved child.

We.  Are.  Loved.

Daily, we are surrounded by so much love, it can be overwhelming, it can seem false, but it is never unfailing.

Never.

Do you need to read that again?

Because God’s love for you never fails.

No matter what you’ve done.  No matter how unloving you have acted.  God’s love for you has never failed.

It seems incredible, doesn’t it?  That someone loves us without any type of condition laid upon us.

Yet, it’s the truth.

So…

How can that truth help us navigate the tricky path that I laid out above?

Let’s talk about the word humble.  The act of “being humble” does not mean self-deprecating.

To be self-deprecating means to put yourself down.  To say that you are less valuable that you actually are.

But to be humble means to have knowledge and confidence in who you are, and knowing that all you are, all you have, is because of God.

Does that solve a lot of problems?

Well, yes.

I will.  Maybe not instantly.  But it will definitely solve a lot of problems.  And it will help you build a more firm foundation to navigate the rest of the challenges that life throws your way.

So now that we have the easy answer out of the way…what does this really look like?  How do we begin to implement this in our lives?

It isn’t easy.

It isn’t fast.

But it is so worth it.

God didn’t create worthless pieces of junk.

So maybe one of the things that you need to do is take some time to really look at yourself, and who you are, and the things that you offer to the world around you.  Write out a list of all of the good things that you are if you need to.  Turn it into a poster and hang it on your wall if you need to.  Whatever you need to do to remind yourself of your value.

Read your Bible.  I cannot stress this enough.  You must spend time reading, studying and understanding God’s words to truly understand who He is.  I can sit here and type until my fingers bleed about who God is.  But until you actually get into a relationship with Him, you won’t really know Him.

Now…can the Bible be complex, and overwhelming?  Absolutely.  It can be terrifying.

But it’s ok to be afraid, and still move forward and do it.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

Maybe take it slow if you need to.  Get help when you need it.  Ask questions.  Just, please, make sure you’re asking for help from people who have some understanding of the Bible.

Once you have taken those 2 steps, something will naturally happen.  You start to take a look at what you’re doing, who you’re surrounding yourself with, and you really start to take a look inward about whether you need to make any changes in your life.

And guess what?

Those negative voices that have surrounded you in the past, the voices that have tried to bring you down…once you stand up for yourself, and have confidence in yourself, those negative voices tend to weed themselves out.

Not always (unfortunately) so you may need to make some drastic changes to your social scene.

But you won’t be sorry for it.

My friend, you are loved.  You are amazing.  Now go have an amazing day!!!

I’m Not OK…

…but I will be.

This has basically been my theme for the past couple of days.

At the moment, I feel a great deal of stress, because there is just a lot on my plate right now.

Ok, and some of that stress is because I’m worrying about something that I just absolutely cannot do one thing to change the situation.  And though I am working to let go of the worry there, stuff is still happening.  A crisis point is coming.  And I know I will have to help pick up the pieces.

Do you ever get to the point when you just have a lot going on, and it seems like all of the stress and weight that you have been managing to carry, suddenly weighs twice as much?

I hit that point yesterday morning.

I feel like the burden that I’m carrying is all my own.  I have no one else to share this with.  Not really.

And with that stress, I went down the rabbit hole of feeling like I am terribly alone in the world.  I have wonderful parents.  And I have wonderful friends.

But then I also got to thinking about something else.  The last time I hugged someone was when I hugged my parents as I was leaving Florida.  On December 27.

Ok, I have students (one in particular) that want to hug me.  But, uh, no thank you.

I struggle, sometimes (often), with sharing some of these feelings with my friends.  Not that I’m ashamed of those feelings.  But I worry that their response will be one of pity.  That they would hug me, just because I’m feeling sorry for myself.  And not just, well, because.

Maybe the reason that happens shouldn’t matter.  But to me, it does.

Though, I don’t have any life altering insight at this point, I know one thing for certain.  No matter how difficult it is for me to wait, to experience the waiting, the impatience, the fear, the grief – all of it – no matter how difficult that is, I’m not giving up on God.

I may want to sometimes.

I may (definitely do) struggle with having a decent attitude while I’m waiting.

But I trust God to have a perfect plan for all of this.

I have hope that God will answer all of this in His own perfect timing.

And I have faith that all of this truly is for a purpose.

Until then, I keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I keep adding one more prayer on top of another.

It’s all I can do.

I Am Positive…

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I survived.  

Barely.

But I survived.

There were definitely tears.  

But I survived.

Sometimes, people suck.  I honestly don’t believe it is intentional.  But just the reality of life. People suck.  

Let me give you an example:

Last night was youth group.  And one of the other leaders and I had previously agreed that we would swap birthday nights to bring snacks.  She brings snacks on my birthday, I bring snacks on her birthday. Yesterday morning at 6am, I get a text, asking what kind of snacks I like.  And any type of sweets that my high maintenance digestive system could handle was out. Ok, that isn’t exactly what was said.  But that was the gist.  So I do give options.  

But then, she brought birthday cake.

And made an announcement that there was birthday cake.

That I couldn’t eat.

She announced that.

No birthday cake for me.

Maybe (definitely) I was already in a slightly emotional state of mind.  Because I just hate this day so much. And as my dad sympathetically told me last night, it always will.  Because nothing about my birthday being difficult will go away. Because the root cause just can’t be changed.

So I was already in an emotional state of mind.  

And then I don’t get birthday cake. 

And I have to watch everyone else eating birthday cake.  

Yes, there was chips and salsa.  Very delicious chips and salsa.  

But it isn’t birthday cake.

If your digestive system isn’t high maintenance, you probably don’t understand.  This is torture. Absolute torture. This isn’t the “oh, I’m on a diet and I shouldn’t eat that.”  This is the “my digestive system is going to try to kill me if I try to eat that” kind of a thing.  

Tor.  Ture.

Beyond that, I have a lot of friends and family with small kids, where life just gets in the way sometimes.  I get it. So sometimes it’s difficult to remember birthdays and other important dates. I get it.  

I really do.

Most of the time, I try to make sure important dates and things get recognized.  I’m a cheerleader for life for everyone. I try to send birthday cards to people close to me.  An actual through the mail paper birthday card. I want to see other people succeed. I want good things to happen to other people.  I’m genuinely happy for everyone else when these amazing things happen to them.

But over the past 24 hours, I had a pity party.  A selfish, downtrodden, pity party. I’m even going to be selfish enough to say that it was warranted.  

Because life gets in the way and people suck sometimes.

Do I think that any of this was intentional?  Absolutely not. My friend honestly was trying to do something for me when she asked what kind of snacks I like.  Not thinking about how I might take it without getting to have cake. And within this same group of friends, another friend keeps telling me that we need to have a night where they all have to eat a “Johanna friendly” meal.  So there is understanding there. It just went a little sideways for a bit. 

And do I think my friends and family purposely didn’t wish me a happy birthday?  

No. 

I don’t.

So I understand that it wasn’t a personal attack.

But the pity party still happened anyway.

I started to question why I do some of the things that I do.  Why I’m always the smiling, friendly, outgoing, happy person that I am.  Why I’m the life cheerleader. Why I go out of my way to do the things that I do.

Is it even worth it?

Not that I do the things that I do in hopes that people will return the favor.  That isn’t why I do these things.

But, sometimes it would be nice.

I honestly started wondering who would even notice is I stopped doing the things that I do.

And then God chuckled, and answered my question.

A coworker, and one that I’m not extraordinarily close to, emailed me this morning, and apologized for not realizing that it was my birthday.  And then thanked me for always sharing my smile with her.  

Ok, God.  I get it.  

I don’t want to give you the impression that I had ever intended on not doing those things.  I might whine and complain about it a little.  But that’s all.

In one belated birthday wish this morning, a friend told me that he hopes today is the start of my best year yet.  My friends, I cannot tell you how much I hope and pray that is the truth.