Last week, Annara left this question in the comment section:
How can we give our children the confidence they need to survive on Earth and still encourage the humility that I believe is pleasing to God?
For the past week, my little brain’s been flipping this question over and over like a pancake that won’t quite cook through. I think it’s one of the most important questions anyone’s ever asked me. I haven’t been thinking about it in terms of parenting, though. Usually, when someone asks me a parenting question, I switch it into a grown-up question. How do I encourage my child to be kinder to others? becomes…How do I become kinder to others? A few years ago, after reading the sixteenth parenting book that contradicted the first fifteen, I quit trying to become a better parent and decided to just become a better person.
We usually think of confidence and humility as character traits, right? She’s so confident…he’s so humble. But here’s my problem . . . these character traits are easy to fake. Sometimes it seems like people who are quite insecure hide it by boasting, and others call them confident. And other people hide their pride behind false humility. It’s like the more insecure a person is, the more likely she is to behave confidently. And vice versa. Tricky.
And some people, like me, just get the two constantly mixed up. Like when I write an essay about humility and then spend the rest of the day wondering whether it might actually be the best humility essay ever written by anyone in the history of the world. I will tell you right now that the character trait I am most proud of is my humility. It’s true. I am so humble, it’s not even funny. Seriously, just don’t try to out-humble me, okay? I will wreck your teeny little humility with my HUGE HUMILITY.
So – yeah.
Even though I feel like a lost cause sometimes in regard to this confidence/humility issue, I do think it’s an important thing to figure out. Maybe the most important thing to figure out. Because if we are humble without confidence, we miss the opportunity to become what we want to be when we grow up. And if we are confident without being humble, we miss out on becoming who we want to be when we grow up.
I think about it all the time as a writer. Spilling myself like this…is it an act of humility or confidence? I share my faults and flaws with you, which seems humble . . .but isn’t the fact that I assume you will care enough to read and maybe even find my flaws charming betray the confidence behind my humility? So writing in itself . . . living out loud . . . is it an act of humility or confidence?
Yes. It’s both. That’s what I’ve decided. To me, confidence and humility are two sides of the same coin. They are character traits that stem from the two beliefs I hold most dear. I think most of our character traits are simply manifestations of what we believe to be true.
I am confident because I believe that I am a child of God. I am humble because I believe that everyone else is, too.
They go Hand in Hand. They’ve got to.
If I am humble but lack confidence, it is because I haven’t accepted that there is a divine spark inside of me. If I am humble but not confident, it’s because I don’t believe in the miracle that I was made by God for a purpose all my own, and so I am worthy of the space that I occupy on this Earth. And that as a Child of God, no one deserves more respect, joy, or peace than I. As a child of God, I have the right to speak, to feel, to think, and to believe what I believe. Those dreams in my heart, those ideas in my head, they are real and they have a divine origin and so they are worth exploring. Just because I am a child of God. And thankfully, there is nothing I can add to that title to make it more impressive. There is also nothing I can do to lose that title. I am confident not because I am pretty or smart or athletic or talented or kind. Those things change and can be given and taken. I am confident simply because I am a child of God.
That is why I am confident enough to write so honestly to you. Not because I am a good writer. There will always be somebody better. So instead of relying on my writing abilities, I rely on the belief that I am a child of God, and as such, I have right to speak my mind with love. This writing thing, it’s one of my dreams. And I act upon my dreams because I believe that God is not just with me, but in me. I believe that He is the creator of my dreams. So it follows that when I act on them, magical things will happen. How could they not? Being a child of God is a free pass to be brave and bold and take great risks and spin around in circles with joy. If and when I fall, who cares? He will always be there to pick me back up. That’s his job. He’s my Father. So if I seem non-competitive, if I seem like I don’t care if I’m the “best” parent or housekeeper or dresser or whathaveyou . . . it’s not because I don’t care about being important. It’s because I believe I am the most important thing on Earth. Why would I care about competing in any other category when I am already a child of God? Why would I argue over a penny when I have already won the lottery?
If I am confident but not humble, it is because I have not fully accepted that everyone has won the lottery. Because everyone has the same amount of God in her that I do. If I am in the habit of turning my back on others, it is because I haven’t learned that God approaches us in the disguise of other people. If I am confident but not humble, my mind is closed. If my mind if closed, my heart is closed. A closed heart is so sad. It is the end. A heart cannot grow any larger if it decides to let no more God in. There is always room for more. A heart expands exactly as much as we allow it to.
Humility is how I survive praise and criticism of my writing, ideas, and beliefs. Because I remember that neither praise nor criticism is really about me. We are all just trying to find the truth. And so I try to remember that I am on no one’s side. Not even on my own. I am just on Love’s side. And so I try to see different points of view not as reasons to step back further into my corner, but as reasons to take baby steps toward the middle of the ring – if for no other reason than to see my opponent a little closer. That perspective change is usually all it takes to remember that I have no opponents, other than my pride. I am child of God, and so is everyone else. Which means we are all on the same side. And so in each new person I see an invitation to know a new side of God. There are as many sides of Him as there are people walking the Earth. I think that’s why He keeps making people. He’s not done telling us about Himself yet. And so I remember that each person I meet or hear from, even if she’s not yet treating me the way I’d like to be treated, is the most important thing on Earth. There is no hierarchy of importance, of brilliance. We are each infinity important. Brilliant the last number. Because each of us is A Child of God. So we better recognize.
Those are the two sides of the Golden Coin I’d like each of my children to keep in her pocket forever.
Be confident because you are A Child of God. Be humble because everyone else is, too.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest