I am still thinking about the concept of confidence (see previous blog), and I think that defining oneself is inevitable to eventually be confident. This includes finding answers to: what makes you you, what are you made off, and what do you think of yourself? Many aspects that currently seem important when it comes to defining yourself are appearances, looks, weight, and clothing. Sometimes I get angry with the number of ads that pop up with empty promises of thirty pounds weight loss in a month, or women of all ages discussing their ‘urgent need’ for botox and fillers. And then, as an aspiring academic there are self defining aspects such as intelligence, number of publications, and impact factors, which are annually reviewed and actions are taken accordingly. As a nurse there are things like empathy, multi-tasking, and communication, which are constantly reviewed by colleagues and the public. So all in all there are a lot of qualities that seem to add to my definition of myself, and in a search for confidence I often aim to be as perfect as possible.
But even though I aim for perfection I also know I will never reach it. My skin does not look as smooth as those adds on my screen, I still don’t fit in a size 0, and my supervisors always have a list of comments on the work I hand in. So that leads to the question: how can I ever be confident if I try to reach perfection in order to get it? That is where ‘defined by grace’ comes in. It gave me a sense of perspective, closely linked to being perfect as you are, made in God’s image and by being His beloved child. Everything I am is in Jesus, and everything I will be is through Jesus. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t work hard, and aim to improve, but it means that I no longer need perfection to feel confident. It doesn't mean I can walk into a job interview and say that I am not really concerned with the number of publications. It also doesn’t mean I can eat as much as I want, without any concern for my weight and subsequently my health.
But it takes off the weight of carrying the enormous list of ‘must-be’s’ and must-do’s’ that seem to be put on us by the society we have created. It means that a kilogram more or less doesn't change my worth, it means that a mistake more or less doesn't change my worth, it means that the number of publications do not change my worth, and so on. In a world of constant merciless judgement I can keep my head held high, sit straight and speak up, because I am 'defined by grace'.
When my insecurity shows,
dear Jesus, hold me close.
When I am feeling at a loss,
please open my eyes to the cross.
When I try to do it on my own
please remind me to kneel at Your Throne
Whisper softly in my ear,
the words that take away all my fear:
“Your worth is not measured by earthly praise,
dear child, you are defined by Holy grace”.