It seems like yesterday we celebrated my daughter Quinn’s first birthday. She’s now almost 16 months old (where did the time go?!) and her development over the last few months astounds me. Quinn has gone from crawling to walking, from grunting to saying ‘Dada’ and ‘Mama’, from four teeth to 12 teeth, from chewing her books to sitting down and paying close attention to each page during storytime. Okay, she occasionally tries to tear the pages of her books, but at least now she’s attentive!
My baby girl is learning so much, and her curious mind and adventurous spirit are becoming more and more prominent with each new day. With every new achievement, whether it be climbing on that Amazon box or locating her favorite blue block in a pile of toys, I am amazed at the confidence she exudes.
She grins. She giggles. She applauds herself. She looks around to see who just saw her latest feat and expects to hear an enthusiastic “Yay, Quinn!” She’s proud of herself. She celebrates her successes unapologetically. And when she tries something new and initially fails, she doesn’t wallow in self-pity. She may momentarily fuss in frustration (and don’t we all from time to time), but she keeps trying. In Quinn’s mind, her multiple attempts at a new skill before being able to achieve her desired outcome is not a mark against her, it’s simply play.
I can’t help but watch my daughter walking in this effortless confidence and wonder how my life would change if I owned her level of healthy self-esteem. How would I walk into new spaces? How would I positively influence those around me? What could I accomplish if I ceased to see failures as deductions on my worth and instead saw them as important steps in my development?
When I see my baby girl filled with joy over her successes, I see an innocent picture of confidence. It’s one not buried in false humility, nor is it one suffocated by plaguing insecurities. It’s a pure confidence void of pride and fear– one grounded in love and joy. I want more of that in my life, and I have a hunch you do, too. Here are a few practices to walk in your own God-given and grace-filled confidence:
- Believe that God is celebrating with you.
I must say “Yay, Quinn!”, “Good job, baby girl” and “Mama is so proud of you” at least a dozen times a day. I celebrate how much of her lunch she ate, the tiny tower she tried to build with her blocks, and her decision to stop kicking her legs while I change her diaper. I love seeing her learning and all the tiny ways she is developing everything from her motor skills to her people skills. Her wins genuinely bring me great joy. If I feel that way as an imperfect mama trying her best but often missing the mark, how much more does our Heavenly Father take great joy in all the ways- big and little- that you trust Him, seek Him, and honor Him?
- Pause for the applause.
As Christians, we tend to deflect applause, even when we secretly yearn for more of it. We don’t want to appear prideful, and we certainly don’t want to hijack glory intended for Jesus. I get it. But creating space in your day to celebrate your wins is not a sign of pride, but rather a practice of praise. Pause to applaud, not merely yourself, but the Lord. Thank Him for the growth you are seeing, the breakthrough you are experiencing, the perseverance you are demonstrating, the grace you are receiving knowing that these please God and come from Him.
- Keep trying without self-judgment.
What is it that Aaliyah once sang? “If at first you don’t succeed, then dust yourself off and try again, try again.” I’m not sure if she had spiritual growth, following Jesus and fulfilling calling in mind when she belted out these lyrics, but she made a solid point. The best things in life are usually not all that easy to master. In fact, many of them are impossible to become an expert in. There will always be room for me to become more like Jesus, to add more strength to my marriage, to practice greater selflessness and wisdom in motherhood, to develop my leadership abilities, to steward my finances more strategically, to take better care of myself, etc.
There are a lot of times in life, and I mean a lot, that we will try and it won’t work out the way we had hoped it would. And that’s OKAY. Normal even. Healthy even. Dust yourself and try again. And deny Satan the opportunity to kick you while you are down. Don’t let the lies of the wicked one tell you that a momentary failure or setback defines your worth. It doesn’t. It never will. Your worth has forever been determined on the cross. You are a child of God, loved by God. No success increases your worth, and no failure diminishes it.
- Cheer on those around you.
When Quinn starts applauding, her joy is contagious. I have witnessed complete strangers at restaurants (I’m talking grown men who give off the don’t-mess-with-me-vibes) join in her applause. They start smiling and clapping with this adorable 1-year-old, and entire atmospheres in spaces change. People pause, they grin, they chuckle. There’s a lightness and celebration that takes over for a few moments, and I believe these are the very moments where an aroma of Heaven seeps into the room.
You are not a ridiculously cute 1-year-old anymore, and neither am I. (I’m sure you are still ridiculously cute though.) Just because we’ve grown up doesn’t mean we can’t bring joy wherever we go. We hold the same power. We can cheer for those around us, and be a voice of encouragement to others. One of the greatest signs of someone operating in healthy confidence is their eagerness to celebrate both the potential and the victories of those around them… without envy and without fear.
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
-2 Timothy 1:7 NLT