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Confidence with Time

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My heart swelled as my sweet twenty-year-old friend sat on my couch one night after Bible study and shared her deep insecurities. As the other women gathered their purses and put on their shoes (we get kind of comfortable during Bible study), she lingered and tried her darnedest to hold back tears. I recognized the look in her eyes.

She shared how she couldn’t help but think everyone else in the room thought she was weird. She shared how she felt different and unaccepted. She shared how she almost didn’t come back to study tonight for fear that she had nothing of value to offer.

This was her perspective. The fog of insecurities and the lens of salty tears lead her to a false reality.

From my perspective, this friend of mine shared deep concerns with the group that others could relate to. Her thoughts added great value to the group and the topic at hand.

From the group’s perspective, she would be greatly missed had she not shown up tonight.

The true reality proved my friend as a beautiful young woman with interesting thoughts and a sweet heart with much to give.

I sat down on the couch and confessed that I too lived in a false reality driven by insecurities when I was her age. Even in my thirties, I still have to fight those insecurities now. All too often I replay things I said in conversation, over-analyzing and torturing myself. There are some days where I pick and prod at my body, comparing and critiquing to no productive end. Though I wish I could completely put to rest my personal insecurities, I’m glad to say that these torturous thought processes have faded. This is why I could share with my girlfriend on the couch that night and encourage her through her very real and honest feelings.

I’m learning that confidence in ourselves and who we are comes over time. These pivotal decades of our twenties and thirties bring an opportunity to explore ourselves and the interesting quirks with which God graces us. Though we carry baggage from our teenage years, this new phase in life offers the excitement of stepping into a new level of maturity and acceptance of who God made us to be. When we immerse ourselves in the Lord and focus on who He is rather than the twisting and turning journey of “finding ourselves,” true confidence and self-acceptance emerge. It is a day-by-day, minute-by-minute kind of thing. We wrap our mind around His power, His love, His greatness, His majesty and slowly our attitudes and perspective change. A sense of self-acceptance bubbles up because we know the only one whose opinion of us really matters.

A very concrete verse in Colossians helps me to refocus my confidence towards a reality that Jesus is the one my life should reflect. All too often I’ve gotten caught up in a journey of self-discovery that I’ve lost direction and focus on one journey –– knowing Christ –– that leads me to true fulfillment and assurance in life.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1-2)

Setting my heart on the Lord keeps me from falling victim to gossip.

Setting my heart on the Lord helps me to develop my character which reflects honor, dignity, peace, and kindness.

Setting my mind on the Lord frees me from obsessing over the opinions of others.

Setting my mind on the Lord gives me direction in my journey through these discovery decades of my thirties –– finding fulfillment and contentment that I am who He made me to be.

The time factor in relation to confidence has come into play as I’ve practiced this discipline of coming before the Lord with my heart and my mind set on Him first. As I’ve developed a habit of throwing out negative thoughts about myself and replacing them with that of Jesus, a sense of assurance has soaked into my heart and mind. This assurance –– this confidence –– reflects my relationship and ultimate trust that the Lord approves of me. He loves my quirks and faults. He desires for me to grow in confidence in Him rather than the flimsy offerings of the world.

I once watched Oprah interview a new age guru who wrote a book about “finding yourself.” Though this interview proved shallow, a little nugget of truth stood out to me. I’ve played this nugget over and over in my head throughout the years and God has used the phrase to bring perspective in my life: “If you truly understood how much people do not think about you, you wouldn’t worry so much about what others think.”

Let that sink in.

Everyone else is so concerned about their own stuff, they aren’t really as concerned with our stuff as we think they are! Everyone else has their own moments when they question if they add value to their group of friends. Everyone else lets their mind travel down paths of self-doubt, insecurity, and fear. Everyone else is worried about their own image they project to the world.

We often tangle up in the idea that our girlfriends or co-workers place every word we speak or magnify every blemish on our face or critique our every wardrobe choice. The reality is, those same girlfriends that we fear their opinions are tangled up, just like us, in their own web of insecurity. They simply aren’t looking at us all the time for they are inward focused themselves. This gives me a since of relief and freedom to express myself and attend coffee dates sans makeup without worry that everyone’s eyes are on me. This gives me all the more reason to set my heart and mind on the Lord every hour of every day, especially when I’m vulnerable to doubt and lack of confidence.

I hope my sweet young friend grasped this life truth I shared with her. You’ll notice that I described earlier that my heart swelled for her. It didn’t break, it didn’t melt, it swelled. She is twenty years old, with her life in front of her. I pray that she will embrace her quirks and realize that those very quirks add a special dynamic to our Bible study group. When we all bring to the table our God-given authentic personalities, a colorful conversation occurs. We learn from each other when we express our struggles and allow even our quirks to show through.

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Sarah Francis Martin has a passion to encourage young adult women to LIVE OUT! the Kingship of Christ in every single area of life. Sarah is a Texas girl at heart but now lives in North Carolina. Her new obsession is anything artsy-crafty. Sarah blogs at www.liveitoutblog.com and is the author of Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties In A Decade of Drama.

4 Comments
  • Julie

    Well said. My confidence has come over time and through a process of brokenness –when all of me has been stripped away. His word and his voice speaking to me about who I really am and Who he is has been light in my darkness.

  • Brea

    I’m guilty!!! Focusing on myself and my “flaws” (real and imagined), going over (way too many times) the things I’ve said and how I should have said such and such differently, beating myself up about doing this or that or inconveniencing someone… and the list goes on and on! In reality, there is only one opinion that matters. I long to live to please Him and only Him… but my flesh wants everyone to understand/like/appreciate ME. This is such a good reminder to set my mind on things above, to choose to listen to His opinion only. Great post.

  • Brea, I’ve been guilty too! And I find that some days are worse than others. I feel like just in the last year or two that I’ve grown leaps and bounds in confidence in who I am in Christ. I’m looking forward to seeing how I continue to grow with time — because I still have a ways to go.

    Julie, I think for me, it’s also come through a process of brokenness. My girls have been learning about Joseph lately and all that God allowed him to go through. It’s interesting to reflect on his story and wonder what he was thinking during his times of brokenness — being sold into slavery and then being falsely imprisoned. Did he have any inkling of what God was about to do? I find this so encouraging as I reflect on seasons of brokenness God has brought us through and that I still feel like we are mending from.

  • Julie

    Ashleigh, I can so relate to that. Such a brutal, raw, doesn’t-make-sense process of allowing God to empty yourself of yourself. So grateful for redemption on the journey, but what a hard one. Great work on this blog and on the redesign!!

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Confidence with Time

by Sarah Martin time to read: 4 min
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