In writing a book on confidence, it never really occurred to me how unpopular a message this might be. I think it’s because in writing it, I was learning that my value isn’t in what I’d thought. It wasn’t in my honor or intellect or in working hard. It wasn’t in friendships or title or relationship status. And considering how stressed all of these made me, I was ready to cast them aside.
Or so I thought…
And therein lies the problem: It’s difficult to get rid of parts of yourself, even parts that you hate or are hurting you. Until the message of my new value started sinking in, I was doomed to be lost, trying to deny the things that I thought gave me value while at the same time not really believing that God’s love for me made me so valuable. People need to be valued. Maybe it’s a twisting of our original need for love, but we crave it, as Jack Nicholson might say, “deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties.” There is no need stronger; it is the oxygen for our souls, a constant requirement that we don’t talk about much unless we’re not getting any.
Then there’s some guy nobody’s really heard of telling them they don’t have to breathe in the same foul air they have been for years, that they can leave behind their source for their strongest need. I mean, imagine telling someone they don’t have to breathe anymore. I’m not the only one sharing this message, I know, but this is hardly a movement, at least, not yet. And why should it be? It sounds crazy.
Except for one thing: what most people are breathing in for their value isn’t really working for them. It makes them work only harder, gets them only more stressed, and robs them of the life, both literally and figuratively, that Jesus gave His life for them to enjoy.
I remember learning how to swim. I had the floaties on my arms that were as big as my head, yet I still clung to the side of the pool as though a kraken would drag me down to the depths of YMCA’s pool the moment I let go. Then I started letting go, slowly and very cautiously at first, often grabbing the side again, yet those times became fewer with longer times between as I started learning how to swim and as my trust in my floaties grew. Eventually, I didn’t even need the floaties, and then I was free.
Your journey toward self-confidence, if you haven’t already started it, will probably be a lot like this. Mine certainly was, though it can take much longer to change a heart than it can to learn to swim. If it is like mine, don’t give up. Keep letting go of what you have been clinging to. It gets better. And better still, when you get scared or feel that you’re not valuable, start clutching onto what God says about you rather than your old go-tos. That will take a while, but that’s when you’ll really be free.