My IRL friends and my family may disagree, but my problem is that I suffer from a lack of confidence. When it comes to offering advice, sharing ideas, and mixing in certain circles, I sometimes tend to be more silent than loud. I do wonder if it's because I come from a family of people that cherish their alone (defragging) time, or if it's from too much 'foot in mouth' disease. I do wonder if it's a learned thing, this tendency to be shy and not speak up. Or is it something that has been ingrained into me from being around outspoken people too much? One thing I do know, however, is that I have had to learn to speak up.
I was not always inwardly shy and insecure. I say "inwardly shy" because I have taught myself to overcome this shyness and be the opposite. Prior to moving to Brisbane and separating from my ex-husband, I had confidence in myself, my abilities and my life. I asked a lot of questions and never shied away from being around people I didn't know. But after relocating to Brisbane in 1996, coupled with working as a receptionist to a very flamboyant and somewhat narcissistic man, and also not knowing anyone, my self esteem was significantly affected. The nail in the proverbial confidence coffin was when my ex-husband decided that he no longer wanted to be married. Separated, lonely and living a long way from my family ... well, you can guess how I felt.
While contemplating what I'd write in this post and how I would expand on my confidence issue, a thought crossed my mind on how I've literally had to start my adult life three times. (Yes, it was God, I know!) Now, by starting life again, I am referring to the fact that while I am 41 years of age, I don't feel it. My body knows that I'm forty-one, but my heart, mind and soul don't. Let me explain.
My 'first adult life' started at 20 when I married my ex-husband. My 'second adult life' started at 28 after we had separated and were waiting to get divorced, which is when I met my daughter's father. My 'third adult life' started at 36 after my daughter was born and I decided that I could no longer live with her dad. Hence, I'm now five years into my 'third adult life'.
I feel that this explanation is the most apt for how I feel about being a 41 year old single parent of a seven year old daughter. I don't feel old enough to be forty-one! It's crazy. But it's also an apt explanation as to why I see other women my age and wonder why I don't have it "all together" like they do. Ha! Realistically though, I do know that behind the scenes they surely don't! That's the reassurance that God has given me over the last few years; that every woman - no matter what their life has been like - has issues and hasn't always seemed like she's had it "all together".
And that's the beauty of a life with God; that He knows that, He wants us to know that, and most importantly, He wants us to know that it's OK. We don't have to have it "all together". It's OK to feel like you're not forty-one. It's OK. Period.
But where do we get our confidence from if it's OK to not have it "all together"?
Our confidence comes from God.
One of the more significant lessons I've learned over the last year is that I cannot do life without God. I did try once or twice, and from reading my relationship history above you can tell that I did a fine job of it too! Not! But there was a purpose in all this. God knew what He was doing by letting me do my own thing and mess up my life. He was strengthening me and preparing me for today. For being a 41 year old single parent of a seven year old daughter.
He allowed me to go to rock bottom in my relationships, in my mental state and in my spiritual well-being. He was there watching me - I knew as I could always feel Him - but He let me make my own choices. He let me get to the point where I had no other choice but to call out to Him and ask Him to take me back. He allowed me to ask His forgiveness, and to ask Him - most humbly - to give me another chance.
And He did. He offered me grace. He taught me, slowly, that it's OK to admit you were wrong and start over.
I read a quote by Priscilla Shirer the other day that says, "Sometimes your greatest message is the mess of your life." God needed me to lose confidence in the person I was so that I could become confident in the person I am now - the real me. The woman He pre-destined me to be. When I look at my life - the relationship problems, being a single parent, the nervous breakdowns I've suffered in the last two years, and more - I'm just amazed.
I am amazed by His goodness, grace, mercy and love. And most of all, I’m amazed by His confidence in me! Thank You Lord.