The Complexity of Confidence


Even as a young girl I remember loving The Sound of Music.  I have always thought it was the talent and grace of Julie Andrews that kept drawing my admiration.  It has only been recently that I recognized in Maria, her character, those qualities of authenticity and bravery that beckon me back again and again.  She is humble, honest and unapologetically unfiltered.

Maria is a woman of deep faith who has found herself with an “about face” order from God as she is asked to leave her life at the convent and become a governess to seven children.  She is facing a completely unknown situation, and certainly not one that was of her choosing.  Due to the beauty of the script and lyrics, we get a front row seat to her internal dialogue as she follows a call into the unknown.  Whether by choice or by circumstance, it is so like this God of ours to occasionally kick us out of the stained glass sanctuary into the harsh light of the real world to grow our confidence muscle in Him, and in ourselves.

The complicated nature of confidence is that we often try to shove it into a box where we only see one side of it.  We want our confidence to look (and feel!) strong and polished as we face the challenges ahead.  We tell ourselves if we are truly confident then we will always look forward, never back, and never falter in our forward progress.  The reality is that confidence is a better informed and more sophisticated emotion than that.

The confidence that sees no risk and recognizes no consequence is that of a child.  We have to tell children not to run in the street or sit on the cactus, they have not lived enough life to consider potential outcomes.  Mature confidence is that of an adult, a person of enough experience to know that pain and danger may be ahead but that the call or the goal is worth the risk.  Mature confidence is as much a choice as it is a feeling.

The journey Maria makes from the gates of the abbey to the entrance of the VonTrapp family mansion is a reflection of the internal dance between fear and confidence many of us engage in any time we are unsure about the experience ahead.

What will this day be like?
I wonder.
What will my future be?
I wonder.
It could be so exciting,
To be out in the world,
To be free!
My heart should be wildly rejoicing.
Oh, what’s the matter with me?
I’ve always longed for adventure,
To do the things I’ve never dared.
Now here I’m facing adventure
Then why am I so scared?

These lyrics do a beautiful job recognizing the mutual relationship that exists between confidence and fear.  Sometimes we talk about these as separate entities but often they work in concert to give us the critical level of adrenaline and endorphins we need to move forward.  When we refuse to shame ourselves for being scared but instead accept it as a common part of the process we are more likely to enter the challenges ahead.  God asks us many times not to fear but yet sometimes we do.  It is moving forward with the fear and trusting that He will bring us into confidence that is the goal.

Oh, I must stop these doubts,
All these worries.
If I don’t I just know I’ll turn back!
I must dream of the things I am seeking.
I am seeking the courage I lack.
The courage to serve them with reliance,
Face my mistakes without defiance.
Show them I’m worthy
And while I show them
I’ll show me!
(I Have Confidence lyrics © Concord Music Publishing LLC)

Maria shows a lot of humility in these lines as she acknowledges forthrightly that she is lacking in confidence and has mistakes in her future.  How much more likely might we step into our giftings, our callings, our unknowns if we gave ourselves the grace of a few anticipated mistakes?  Your attempt at anything will not likely be perfect, let that sink in deeply before you even begin.  It is then you may just sing, “I’ll show them I’m worthy, and while I show them, I’ll show me!”

So whether it is a huge life change or the daily confidence you need to face each morning I will leave you here with this video of Maria as she approaches the VonTrapp family home.  She is wearing her only clean outfit, she becomes a bit overwhelmed when she gets the first real view of her future and blessed if she doesn’t trip as she gets going.  My goodness, isn’t that like us so many times over?  Like her I hope you will find a way, amidst the hope and the fear, to run with confidence toward whatever is ahead.

  • BicycleMusicCompany (on behalf of Rodgers and Hammerstein); UBEM, UMPI, ASCAP, Imagem Music (publishing) US, and 10 Music Rights Societies

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