"Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV)
"Are you sure you're ready to have a tiger by the tail?" mom asked with a big grin. That was her first response when my then-boyfriend Barry asked my parents if he could marry me.
It still makes me laugh, because I was certainly a strange mix of rule-following, first-child with a wide streak of sassiness and fierce independence. I'm still not sure Barry had any idea what he was getting into when he said, "I do."
That was over twenty years ago, so when Barry asked an unexpected question during our family vacation, it opened my eyes to some of God's difficult work in my life. Barry and I sat on the deck overlooking the ocean talking in low voices about the topics that concern many of us-finances, parenting, plans for the future. Suddenly, he asked his startling question.
"If you could change one thing about me, what would it be?"
My mind went blank except for the thought, Whew! This is a really loaded question. At first I didn't want to answer (why ruin a great evening?), but I finally answered, braced myself and re-asked the question, "What would you change about me?"
I had a pretty good list going in my mind of what I thought he'd say-I wish you weren't so critical. I wish you wouldn't talk so much. I wish you would cook dinner more often.
What he actually said surprised me. "I want you to get your confidence back. When I married you, your favorite phrase was, 'I'll do it myself!' I've watched you lose your confidence over the years, and I want you to have it back," he replied.
A move, a couple of friendships with bad endings and struggling to find a place in my new home town had knocked the stuffing right out of me. I had fought and lost against my own tendency toward comparison, perfectionism and an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. Little by little, I became convinced that I couldn't and that I wasn't. My confidence had been shaken and finally crumbled.
But sometimes things have to be torn down before they can be rebuilt.
Was it God's plan that I would move, fail in some friendships and beat myself up trying to be somebody else? No! He did, however, use this bad place to bring me to a better place. God began rebuilding confidence in me a few years ago, and He capped it off when I got home from Proverbs 31 Ministries' She Speaks conference that year.
There He spoke to me over and over again about trusting my life to His control. The scripture in my Sunday school class the following Sunday was our key verse today, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6: "Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant-not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (NIV)
For years I walked in my own strength of "I can do it," but God brought me to His strength and the knowledge that "He can do it in me."
He has brought me out of my own power, which is so limited and flawed, to being dependent on the infilling power of His Spirit. Confidence in myself has very limited power, whereas confidence in Him brings limitless possibilities.
I know that I'll still have days of struggle with confidence, but my rebuilt and renewed sense of confidence is now firmly in Christ. It's a beautiful place to be.
Dear Lord, I have depended on myself so many times and fallen short. My confidence has been shaken. Rebuild me by helping me to put my full confidence in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.