I’m part of a panel at a women’s event and those of us on stage are asked, “Do you ever struggle with confidence? It looks like all of you have it all together.” I’ve been asked this before, told this before, and it still surprises and startles me. Because I can see my insides. I know my messes and my crazy, mistakes and stumbles, how I’ve wrestled with depression and anxiety like wild alligators, how my heart has the scars to prove it.
The woman who gets the microphone first is lovely and confident, outgoing and articulate. By the time it’s my turn my heart is pounding, I’m sweating and I feel like I have something in my nose (which always happens when I’m speaking in public). I tell the audience all this and they laugh with me, thankfully.
Then I also say what God has been putting on my heart, what has been saving me from myself, what has been making me stronger and bolder in ways that are catching me by surprise. I declare to this group of women and to my imperfect self, “What I’ve been realizing lately is this:
The world tells us we need to have self-esteem but what we really need is holy confidence.”
I’ve especially needed to learn this as an introvert. I battled self-doubt over my ability to make small talk or feel comfortable in groups. But slowly God began to show me I’m created as an introvert, that what I saw as flaws were actually strengths. I listened well, had deep empathy, knew how to champion one person at a time. Research also now shows we’re created as introverts and extroverts with differences in our brains and nervous systems.
Before I spent years studying what it meant to be an introvert, before I became comfortable in my God-given skin, I tried to prove I was enough. Perfect enough. Good enough. Experienced enough. Smart enough. Pretty enough. But it’s only when we come to the place where we can finally say,
‘I’m not enough but Jesus is’ that our hearts get free.
The reality is in spite of our strengths and being wonderfully made, we will still sometimes fall short of the expectations of others and ourselves. But it doesn’t matter because our scandalous God, our gracious Savior, declares we are beloved and chosen and empowered anyway.
Self-esteem says we can do it.
Holy confidence says, in spite of us, God will.
ts when I’m still sometimes insecure and afraid, when my heart is pounding, my hands are sweating and it feels like there’s something in my nose, that’s the Truth that I really need to know. Maybe, just maybe, I’m not the only one.
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Holley Gerth is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author, counselor, and life coach whose latest release is The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to Be You. She’s also cofounder of (in)courage and a partner with DaySpring. Holley lives with her husband, Mark in the South.
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