where does confidence come from?

Where does confidence come from?

A lot of young people ask me that question (via email, DM, comments, etc) and I am always surprised by it, because I don’t necessarily consider myself as an outrightly confident person, but I actually DO think that this entire experience has brought me to a place where I can say I have much more than I started with, or even than I have lived with. So, while I don’t feel fully qualified to answer this question (there, I said it), I can give it my best shot. I don’t have the magical key, but I can tell you what I think will help, because it helped me. I can also tell you that it’s been a lifelong journey trying to figure that out for myself, so you’re not alone if you’re wondering too.

I’ll start at the beginning–which is to explain where my mind goes when I even consider the word itself. I cant help noticing what an interesting concept ‘confidence’ is, to begin with. It is, after all, attractive, engaging, powerful, and desirable. Others can sense it, and gravitate toward it–either conciously or subconciously. However, most of us are averse to or turned off by people who show themselves to be cocky, arrogant, self centered or self indulgent in actions or speech. So, that begs the question, where exactly is the line between being confident and arrogant? Or, better yet, what is the intrinsic difference?

To me, this is the better question, because I find that the difference lies mostly in the source. Confidence, in my opinion, comes from a place of surrender and humility (crazy, I know. Hear me out). Confidence comes from knowing you are enough because God says you are enough, from believing you are loved and lovable, and therefore, ceasing from striving to earn your place in the world or the hearts and minds of those around you. Cockiness or self-centeredness comes from a core belief that you are not enough, which leads to needing that outward validation desperately, which leads to striving: ie. forcing yourself, your opinions, your energy, and your outward displays of self-worth onto those around you. Cockiness, I believe, comes either from a belief that you are not enough (which is not true, but leads people to act out in an attempt to prove it to themselves) or from the misguided belief that you are better than others (which is also not true. God loves us all equally and unconditionally).

The best example I have of the two, side by side, is in Luke 18 (in the Message version). Jesus is talking. It says, “Then he gave this illustration to certain people who were confident of their own goodness and looked down on others: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one was a Pharisee, the other was a tax-collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed like this with himself, ‘O God, I do thank you that I am not like the rest of mankind, greedy, dishonest, impure, or even like that tax-collector over there. I fast twice every week; I give away a tenth-part of all my income.’ But the tax-collector stood in a distant corner, scarcely daring to look up to Heaven, and with a gesture of despair, said, ‘God, have mercy on a sinner like me.’ I assure you that he was the man who went home justified in God’s sight, rather than the other one. For everyone who sets himself up as somebody will become a nobody, and the man who makes himself nobody will become somebody.” Do you see the difference? God made the man who admitted his faults, his needs, his brokenness, and his humanity justified and HE is called somebody in the Kingdom of God. The Pharisee (the cocky one), was so full of himself and so sure that his value was in his works, that He lived his whole life striving and trying, and probably feeling miserable, all to no avail. I personally have found myself in both positions, so I cast no judgment, I simply find it worth noting.

I really do believe that the moment we admit our faults and stop trying to be perfect is the moment that God can step in and fill us up with HIs love (aka, the source of confidence).

Ok, Im already getting ahead of myself, so let me segway (man, I wish I had a Segway, wouldn’t that be fun?) into the crux of what I believe about TRUE confidence: the real-deal, non-pompous, non-annoying confidence that is not any of the negative things mentioned above. I think the pure kind, the good kind, the holy kind, the lasting and the deep kind can only come from knowing that you are loved. By someone (God) who’s love cannot be taken away, will never cease, and is based on NOTHING you do or don’t do.

Yep. That’s it. Sounds simple. Applying this to your life is much easier said than done, of course. I know this from experience.

See, for my whole life, I lived with a family that encouraged me, friends that liked me, and teachers that told me when I did a good job. I also had people that disliked me, teachers who were mean, boyfriends who moved on, etc. I think I had the general mix of positive and negative reinforcements, but for some reason, my self-image was not…for lack of a better word, good. I always thought something was wrong with me. I always thought that even people who liked or loved me would certainly figure out how uncool I was and rescind their affections. I was always, always, always waiting for the day (or even the moment) when I would be seen as the one who didn’t measure up. I was striving to be accepted, striving to be liked, striving to reach a point where I felt safe about the way I felt in my own skin. And yet, this safety (ie. confidence) evaded me in large part.

I have no idea, as far as a psychological starting point, as to where this less-than mentality stemmed from, other than the fact that I am human. I have no horrifying trauma or abusive relationship that I can blame for my lack of confidence or trust in others love for me, yet it was constantly haunting me. I lived with it for years, and considered it normal in many ways, because it was so near and so consistent. Only in my very recent adult life have I fully understood how untrue my feelings were. I feel bad for the girl I have been, who saw herself as broken and unworthy and unlovable, no matter what. No matter how hard she tried, she was never confident in being ‘enough’. On the outside, I think I looked the part, but on the inside I was always afraid of being given up on by those around me.

I do not think I am the only one who feels or has felt this way, either. There is a war being waged on our souls, and maintaining our self-worth and confidence is not easy at all! I think that one of the most prevailing lies that the devil uses is to tell us that we are not cherished or special or worthy of the love of God. If he can keep us down, we will not live our lives to the fullest capacity and he wins. My heart was so full of doubt about who I was, that even good things didn’t seem good. It was hard to be grateful, hard to be present and hard to be myself. This was never who God intended me to be–and I could feel it, but I didn’t know how to gain that inner strength and confidence.

That’s because I was always looking inside of myself for something that i wasn’t finding. I was also (like the Pharisees) trying to live perfectly, act rightly, be cool enough, interesting enough, church-y enough, “good” enough to finally feel confident and accepted for who I was. I wanted to wake up one day and feel different or look different or have a different life or even just outlook on life. I thought maybe if my body was different, or I had a boyfriend who loved me better, treated me better, complimented me more, or made me feel more whole…maybe if I had more money, if I had better clothes or grades or was taller. Obviously this wouldnt have helped, and It seems silly now to say it out loud… but I actually believe that adults look for solace in almost the exactly the same things, only in different wrappers. Maybe if I worked harder, if my marriage was better, my husband was more successful, my kids were more respectful or intelligent or athletic, or our house was bigger, or, or, or… and, again, this is obviously not the solution.

Even if we know this, how do we get past it? How do we move from exterior to interior motivation?

For me, and I can’t speak for anyone else, it actually took one of the hardest seasons of my entire life to teach me where real confidence comes from. I had gone my whole life without really, truly understanding what it meant to accept the love of God as being enough. I knew it on paper and I believed it, but I never had to cling to it and really let it into every part of my soul until I did the Bachelor. The pain of being misunderstood and misjudged and defamed on national television was absolutely gutwrenching. I remember watching the show (we don’t see it until the world sees it, mind you) and being heartbroken. I felt misinterpreted and hated and it brought me to my knees. I was unable to defend myself, and I felt anger and frustration, loneliness, shame, and massive amounts of confusion. I asked God how this could possibly be happening. I cried every day, throughout the day. I would see scathing articles about me in magazines at the grocery store, they would pop up when I was online, and social media tore me apart. I have never been called fake, or a liar , or been shamed by such incessant and hateful comments by anyone in my life before…let alone in front of millions of people.

And yet, the strangest thing was happening. In the depths of my despair and pain, I was reaching out to God in a way I had never had to before. I felt like the man in the parable, who knew exactly how weak he was. I had no way of defending my honor (contractually, we cant talk about the show as it is playing out), and so I had to accept that this was a season where I would have to resign to being berated and made fun of and misjudged by hundreds and thousands, even millions of people. I was so low that I didn’t know how I could make it through the day without God’s mercy and support. I was so painfully aware that my confidence was out of my control at that point in my life–I knew I couldnt ‘fix’ anything with working hard or striving. It was well beyond that, and the illusion of my ability to do it alone was completely swept away. I was so downcast, so desperate for answers, so alone in all of it, that I found myself praying harder and more earnestly than ever before in my life.

I read psalms and resonated with David’s questioning and lamenting. I sang worship songs, because nothing else brought me peace. Everywhere I went I was confronted with pain, so I ran back to God. I dove so deep into His Presence that i found a place where I was finally released. I literally was in a ‘gesture of despair’ like it said in Luke. I cried out to God to be merciful and heal my hurting, in the deepest parts, because no one else in my life (including me) could do that, and I finally had to face it. I found a place where I was so broken that I knew where my only source of life was coming from when I experienced the peace He gave me. I actually believed when the Holy Spirit spoke to me that it was going to be ok. I found a place where I started truly believing that God loved me…and I could begin feeling that that was enough.

I knew I wasn’t building myself up, and the safety I felt could only be coming from God. I had no choice but to believe–I KNEW couldn’t work my way into feeling better, so I began to let it sink in that it was, indeed, only God’s love moving me into healing. I had to accept that His love was whole and all-encompassing, and unending. His love was unconditional, and the polar opposite of the fickle and temperate love that strangers (even millions of strangers) had for me. Even if they misunderstood me, God never had. He told me He knew my heart and He made me to be His. I felt peace like I never had before. I was finally ready to accept the love that has been there all along–the love I had always read about but never tasted. I could feel my heart softening, my view of my value shifting.

My confidence has nothing to do with who I am, what I had done or hadn’t done, or even what others think of me. It had everything to do with the simple fact that I am made by my creator who loves me. It has everything to do with the surety of His promise that He adores me, forever and without condition.

This knowledge changes everything. Now I know that my confidence is not bound to anything earthly at all. No accomplishment or program or success or failure can touch it, because it’s rooted in Gods love for me and the fact that I have simply accepted His promise as being true. The burden of needing to be liked or approved of by other people is lifted when I come into His Presence, and the fear of failure has no more place.

I can live with freedom, because failure (or success) has nothing to do with how I am viewed by the only One who matters. I am loved because I am His–perfect or not. In fact, He knows that I can’t be perfect, and that no one can. He knows I will never be the most beautiful, the most successful, the most talented or better than anyone. I don’t have to be. All I have to be is myself, as God made me. All I have to do is remember that there is never a moment where I am alone or seen through anything but my Fathers loving eyes. That filter changed my entire life.

So, that’s the only answer I have. That’s how I can have all of these doubts about my body or insecurities about this or that or money problems or any and every other stressful thing that comes with living this life but STILL find joy, peace, hope, and supreme confidence that I am ok and that its all going to be ok. I have to intentionally seek His truth, and let go of the lies that come up (all the time, trust me). It’s not always easy, but it works because its based on something bigger, better, stronger, and more loving than I could ever be. It’s got nothing to do with me and everything to do with who loves me. I can’t base my confidence on anything but God, and that, in itself is the biggest burden that has ever been lifted off of my shoulders. This truth is just as true for everyone (its actually the truest thing in the world).

He loves you, He made you, He sees you, and He’s inviting you to just accept that His love is HUGE–and its more real than your fears, more present than your problems, and more powerful than your doubts and insecurities.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

I love you guys.

Be blessed.
LOVE,
BKN

Ps. As you may know already, immediately after all of these revelations, I was rejected on national television for a second time. Woohoo!! So, that was fun! (Just kidding. It sucked). But, the beauty of it is, that the first ordeal had taught me so much about leaving on God, that I was ok. I was able to see the beauty that God sees in me, even if the men in the house didn’t. I was able to see the value that i have because I am a beloved child of God, even if the world didn’t. I was able to feel sad and cry and experience pain and not think the world was ending or that I was a failure. I was able to thank God for the experience and remember that His opinion counts more than anyone in the worlds ever could, because His is eternal and His is full of grace and mercy and…you guessed it, unconditional love. Anyway, I hope that helps you, in some small way. :) Keep shining! YOU ARE LOVED!

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Showing 13 comments
  • Randi Lynn
    Reply

    I appreciate your raw honesty, openness, and transparency always. I can relate to everything you write and your words bless my heart more than you will ever know. Thank you.

  • Ali
    Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your truth with the world. God is so good. He knew that I needed to read this blog post. Thank you for the reminder of where true confidence comes from.

  • Elizabeth
    Reply

    Thanks for posting. :) Your messages truly will help spread the gospel to many young girls and you are such a great example. It truly is amazing how God works all good in our trials and suffering when we give it to him. He is so good and your blogs reflect that. I look forward to reading all of your blogs ^_^ God Bless.

  • Penelope
    Reply

    Beautiful! And such truths. Thank you Britt

  • Anna
    Reply

    Hey Britt,
    I’m an IG follower and saw your latest post this morning so I came here to read your blog. I think you’re great and it’s wonderful to see how open you are about your faith, sharing your experiences with us!! You are an inspiration and expression of God’s love. I have no doubt that God is touching people’s hearts through your testimonies, and I have no doubt that God is changing those hearts.
    I also think that God has someone for you. Someone special, who will understand your heart, and you will understand his. Someone whoes confidence comes from God, who will see you and treat you as the precious daughter of God. God bless you and your walk with Him 😊❤️

  • Faith Drew
    Reply

    Britt thanks so much for writing this blog! This post particularly helped me a lot – I similarly have dealt with confidence issues, but for no particular traumatic reason in my past. I had parents who loved me and taught me the truth about God. This made me feel guilty about my lack of confidence. I have a body that works, I even have a body that a lot of people would envy. But I still was uncomfortable with my height and lack of curves.

    I was like a pendulum, swinging from very confident to lacking all confidence. When I was confident, I would feel wrong, as if I was cocky. And when I lacked confidence, I felt a guilt because I felt worthless, but knew God wanted me to feel loved. I still deal with this today, but thankfully not as much. I found my husband who loves me unconditionally, and pray you find yours soon! He has certainly helped me in my journey.

    I look forward to continuing to read this blog and being inspired by you!

    -Faith

  • Casey Brock
    Reply

    Britt,

    THANK YOUUU. You are a such a light to this broken world. I pray that many women of all ages are impacted by your heart! I admire your vulnerability and having nothing but positive vibes from you and watching you on the Bachelor. :) Keep it up girlll!

    Xoxoxo
    -Casey

  • Sarah Ghabrial
    Reply

    I needed to read this :)

  • Megan
    Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this! I was having a horrible day! I think another reason for you being on the bachelor and bachelorette was for you to have this platform where you could spread Gods love and his truths to people hurting! And I am grateful to God he picked you! God bless!

  • irene
    Reply

    This is exactly what I needed to read, Brit! Thanks so much.

  • Elise
    Reply

    How did you become so connected with God?

  • N.
    Reply

    Thanks for much for posting these. I don’t think anyone knows what it’s like to endure social media bullying on that level unless you live through it. Your faith is beautiful. Thanks for being so honest here.

  • Maria
    Reply

    This is absolute perfection. I can’t get over how well written, spot-on this is. Made me tear up because it’s so true/relatable!! Thank you Britt for yet another AMAZING post. God Bless XXOO

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