Birthdays are the best. Especially when you are turning one. We have a granddaughter who lives entirely too many miles away and we just returned from a visit to celebrate her first birthday. We got there early so we could spend the entire day with her and her parents. A special late breakfast in a nearby restaurant began her festivities. Barely breathing the word “birthday” garnered her a trip to the kitchen, an individual birthday cake, and a bouquet of Tootsie pops. Not bad for eleven in the morning. Elevensies rock. But she seemed largely unimpressed.
Next we spent the afternoon gathering supplies for the party. We poofed tissue pom-poms, hung garland and arranged party food. Adults made trips to the store for last-minute punch supplies and ice all while our granddaughter took a well-needed nap, oblivious to the preparations in her honor.
When she woke, she was more interested in being held than the fancy chocolate-covered marshmallows her mother was drizzling. Eventually, guests began to arrive and each one intently squatted down to wish her a happy birthday. She graciously granted most a quick grin, but you could tell she didn’t care much about the meaningless words she was hearing over and over for the first time in her life.
Now, presents were fun. A bevy of older girl cousins were happy to help open gifts, but our granddaughter can hold her own, thank you. For a couple more months she is the only and oldest in my son’s little family. And she is totally secure in her position. She knows exactly who she is. She is neither overly shy nor gregarious. Just learning to walk, she regularly plops to floor when she loses her balance. But undeterred by the inconvenience, she stands back up and plods off again. This well-celebrated little girl carries her toddling self with confidence.
Confidence is something I wish I could bottle and give away with a big bow on it.
If there is anything I wish I could impart to people beyond a relationship with Jesus, it is confidence.
A confidence not rooted in appearance, accomplishment, or approval.
We need a confidence that comes from Christ.
I recently finished a six-week teaching engagement with some women at a local church. Week after week, as I looked out over these ladies, I became overwhelmed by the need for weary women to walk in confidence.
The world has seen this need too. Unfortunately, it has translated it into the women’s movement. A few years back, Betty Friedan determined housewives were inherently unhappy and traditional roles were slowly killing the female spirit. Never mind that Betty wasn’t the happiest lady on the planet herself with her graduate degree and troubled marriage. But she could write and her materials are largely credited with igniting the women’s movement. We somehow bought into the idea that women could be happier if they would only do all the things that men do.
In the last decade, a thirty-five year study from the General Social Survey released some interesting results. Over the years it had asked men and women whether they considered themselves “very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy.” Surprisingly or not, men are relatively the same degree of happy that they were thirty-five years previously. Go figure. Women on the other hand reported decisively less happiness. Sociologists went bonkers interpreting this phenomenon. Yet even Yale scholars suggested the women’s movement bears responsibility. In the last half-century women have gained the opportunity to aspire to nearly everything available to men. But women have merely added new opportunities and responsibility to traditional roles that many still enjoy and now feel increasing pressure to perform in all spheres. Women are doing more than ever before but many lack confidence that they are doing anything well at all.
The confidence I would love to impart to women has nothing to do with competing with men.
That is a dead-end street. When we base our lives on comparisons to others and consistently focus on what we are denied, it rarely leads to an abundant life. I want to see women and men find their confidence in Christ.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
As a royal priesthood, as the temple of the Holy Spirit, as a new creation, we can rest in our position as children of God. But so many of us base our worth and happiness on whether we kept our house clean, raised perfect well-behaved children, earned a good salary, maintained a svelte body or gained public accolade.
We all need a lesson from my granddaughter.
She knows who she is. She understands perfectly how important she is to her family. She doesn’t even require the lavish celebration that was poured out on her. She is content to plod through life, falling and getting up, secure that it will never affect her father’s love. She prefers to be held than to know a party is being prepared for her. She is free to nap in the security of a home and family.
Why can’t we see our heavenly Father in the same way?
He is preparing a place for us, but isn’t it better for now to just be held in His protective arms? Why can’t we realize our failures never reduce His love and our achievements will never increase it? Instead of worrying about tomorrow, why can’t we nap securely in his care, aware that there are legions of angels at His disposal to fight on our behalf? And if anyone can manage a party for us while we sleep, it is God.
When we walk in this kind of confidence, it shows. We need not be painfully shy or overly gregarious. We can appreciate attention, but we don’t need it. We can hold our own in a world that presses in on our space. We are free do follow the dreams God gives us. When we spend time with our Father on a regular basis, we can be sure of what we are doing. We are sure of whom we are.
That type of confidence is attractive.
Let’s walk with the confidence of a child and rest in the Father’s love. Maybe along the way, we’ll have a birthday party.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.