You’ve heard it before: It’s the journey, not the destination. I first learned this concept at age 22, 7 months pregnant and living in a women’s shelter. Mary Lee Lord (I’ll never forget her) was the director of the center for women helping me get through a rough time after a bad relationship. Mary Lee kept hearing me say…”I just need to be that…. or I just get there.” She stopped me and said, “Sylvia, life is a process, not an event.” Well, “duh,” I thought…but I really did NOT want to think about the hard work that was before me — getting myself out of a tangled relationship mess, going through childbirth alone, continuing with college with a young infant, living the life of a single mom. It’s not like I felt all that confident to be able to handle what was ahead. Instead, I just wanted to think about the end result, “When I finish my degree, then,” “When my son is old enough, then,” When I meet the right guy, then.”
But the truth is, the good part is in the middle, like in a custard doughnut. Between “here” and “there” is the substance, the delight and the growth. True, the pain, the challenge and the fear of the unknown also awaits us on the journey to our destination, like in childbirth (or during the teen years). But it’s so worth it. Wouldn’t you agree?
The same is true in all aspects of our lives — spiritual, financial, relational or in our businesses. Maybe you’ve been struggling in one of those areas. I’ve struggled in all four. When my confidence is shaken, I want to take myself out of the situation that is causing me discomfort. I want to take myself out of the fire. I want to stay comfortable, instead of take on the challenge. This is why people don’t finish a marathon; it’s why others won’t even start the training.
The challenges I face in my business, for example, sometimes cause me to simply want to drop out of the race. I’m like a caterpillar who started building a cocoon. “Gee, it’s kind of taking a long time and I actually feel a bit claustrophobic. I know I am destined to become an outrageously beautiful flying creature. But it’s really more discouraging work than I had in mind. So, maybe I’ll just stay a caterpillar and stick to what I know — the ground.” That kind of thinking is simply not acceptable. I don’t tolerate it from my son when he’s struggling with his math homework. I don’t tolerate it from my husband when he questions his abilities or worth. And I certainly can’t tolerate it from myself when it comes to my growth as a Christian, a wife and mother or a professional business woman.
So what do we do when our confidence is shaken? When we can’t find the strength to finish the race? We need to regain our confidence God’s way. According to author Carol Kent in her Bible study “Six Secrets of a Confident Woman,” we need to get the focus off our pain, our problem and our insecurity. She lists five ways to regain our confidence:
1) Realize that in our trial, there’s a purpose we cannot see until we get to the other side. In my business, I sometimes feel discouraged by a small set back, paralyzing me to inaction. But I must learn how to overcome discouragement and master my skills. If I can’t do it, how will I be able to teach others to be successful? Success isn’t easy, it’s earned!
2) Learn from past experiences. I need to look back once in a while and reflect on how far I’ve come — in my business, in my relationships, in my parenting and in my maturity. I need to see how God has taken me through a dark valley before and know I can trust Him in the present.
3) Take a risk. My business isn’t brain surgery, I can give myself permission to fail. Parenting isn’t about perfection, I can pick myself up and love my son and myself despite my inadequacies. Even when a dream seems dead and gone, it can be revived with a little tender loving care and a new-found faith.
4) Internalize the truth. God loves me! He’s on my side! No matter what my trial, my challenge, my lost dream…God is for me! He goes ahead of me and makes a way for me. He will even carry me when the road gets too difficult, but I have to meet him half way.
5) Tell the enemy to get lost! “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) Shaken confidence = spirit of fear from the enemy.
As for me, I’m taking my power back, thank you very much.
- 14 Tips to Help You Build More Confidence (lifehack.org)
- Entrepreneurs Optimistic About 2012, According to Kauffman/LegalZoom Startup Confidence Index (kauffman.org)
- Daily Verse: 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (faithfulprovisions.com)