I’m independent. Ask anyone — I always have been. I’m not an in-your-face feminist by any means, and I don’t get offended when men open the door for me or offer to help me carry heavy boxes. I’m independent in that I know I can provide for and take care of myself, if it came down to it. Not that I necessarily want to forever, but I can.
I’m thankful that my parents, my dad especially, took the time to teach me about being independent and resourceful. Even as a kid, he would teach me how to do what might be seen as male-oriented tasks: proper car-washing techniques (including whitewalls), how to rewire electric outlets, how to paint free-throw and 3-point lines on a concrete basketball court, or how to cut, drill, sand and varnish a cabinet or table. I didn’t always enjoy these “learning opportunities,” but I did learn.
More than all that, he taught me that people respect those who respect themselves. He always walked and spoke with confidence, and if he was actually shaking in his boots, it never showed. He told me once, as we were on a “work trip” (homeschooled kids get to have all the fun), if you dress nice, walk quickly and with purpose, and act like you belong in a place – nine times out of 10 – no one will dispute it. Today, as my high heels click-clack down the halls of my workplace, I would have to agree with him. Confidence is the key to getting where you want to go — literally, perhaps more than figuratively.
These thoughts came to me after talking to a dear friend who has been beaten-down emotionally for years by a bully who never respected her as a person or as a spouse. She has allowed him to mentally and physically control her for so long that, once she decided to change her life, she began an even more difficult struggle, one within herself — an internal debate of her own self-worth. Thankfully, she is beginning to break free from the bonds of doubt and fear in which she has lived so long, but it is not going to be easy.
Yesterday, I was painfully reminded that even independent and self-sustaining people are sometimes powerless over things going on around them. My own confidence could do nothing to help my friend. Her new-found confidence in herself was without effect. I sat there in my office, on the phone, and could do nothing but say ineffective, placating words. My mind was racing, grasping for a course in which to direct her, but nothing was there. I was at a loss.
The Bible often refers to boldness. Although similar to confidence, boldness has a deeper meaning. Confidence can be misdirected and placed in ourselves or another person; but boldness, at least in the Biblical sense, is an attitude of confidence in God and His Word. There is no arrogance when our boldness is in Him.
David the Psalmist, who I know was filled with boldness, knew this as well. A powerful, mighty man, he was also humble and continually seeking God.
Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
Psalms 25:1-5, KJV
When God is directing our path and guiding our steps we have nothing to fear. We can go up against lions, bears and giants. We can walk with strength, courage and confidence — with true boldness — even in the darkest night and against the fiercest foe.
According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
Philippians 1:20, KJV