True Confidence in Christ
The horse just stood there. Half asleep. Stephanie limply shook the halter grasped in her hand. Her small effort was in vain, for there was no response from the horse, again.
I headed back into the round pen to re-explain the concept of “round-penning”. I kindly asked for the halter from Stephanie and began using my body language along with shaking the halter to encourage the horse to move. Immediately, the horse began trotting circles around us.
“You see,” I explained after a few laps, “you have to use your body language when communicating with a horse. The horse won’t think we mean business if we slouch and look uninterested.” The horse quickly noticed when I stepped back to encourage Stephanie and he quickly returned to a halt.
“But I don’t know how to do round-penning,” Stephanie replied, wearing a bodysuit of defeat. We hadn’t yet spent 10 minutes in the round pen.
“Sometimes, you have to fake it until you make it. Pretend like you know what you’re doing, and we can fix the mistakes along the way. But you have to look like you’re trying if you are going to get anywhere,” I explained. “Let’s try again.” I handed the halter back to Stephanie. She shook the rope a little more firmly this time, enough to get the horse to walk a few steps forward, but then he lazily stopped. “You must give him a reason to move. Right now, he hasn’t been given a good of enough reason to move.”
“I can’t do it.” Stephanie slumped her shoulders even deeper.
“Be confident, even when you don’t know all the answers. Shoot, I don’t know all the answers, but I am here to help you learn. I don’t know everything about round penning and ground work, but I’ve gotten to where I am by years of guessing and trying, along with a lot of guidance.”
Stephanie stood in silence. We had migrated to the edge of the round pen, leaned against the pipe fence, while the horse took a nap on the other side of the round pen.
“What do you say?” I said after a grueling 60 seconds of silence, attempting to be motivational.
“There’s a problem,” Stephanie explained, “I am not good at being confident.”
[This is where the Holy Spirit took over, so the rest of the story is a little fuzzy, but I tried to record it as accurately as I could.]
“Why aren’t you confident?” I asked open-endedly. I knew Stephanie for a few years now, and I knew she was a teenage Christian who struggled with self-esteem, body image, mental health/depression, laziness, and more. However, this was my first time intentionally one-on-one with her, and this was a huge open door. I wanted to tread carefully and intentionally, with my genuine desire to know her.
“I’m just not confident.” She replied. I knew that was a lazy response to get out of the conversation she opened.
“Don’t you know who you are in Christ?”
There was a deafening moment of silence.
Her face dropped, “I haven’t been reading in my bible.” She confessed, her face tried to cover up shame. She probably feared that I may legalistically shame her for neglecting her daily Christian checklist – the checklist that so many believe will save you. (Spoiler alert: We can’t so anything to be saved but accept the gift of Salvation through Jesus. A checklist doesn’t save anyone, Jesus does.)
“Well, not reading our bibles will definitely help us forget who we are in Christ. Is it okay if I remind you?” Stephanie nodded. “We are all broken, but Christ has redeemed us. He has made us new. He has called us beloved, and He created us exactly the way we are for a reason. He calls us beautiful, wonderful, and perfect, all because of His sacrifice on the cross. He took on every mistake, every burden, every sin we have ever committed, past present and future. He took care of it by dying on the cross. It is no longer ours to carry. And He rose again, defeating all sin. We have the ability to live in confidence because of Him.”
She took a moment to respond. “I just… I just don’t know how to be confident. I am an introvert,” Stephanie quietly countered.
“Confidence isn’t about being an extrovert.” I explained, “Being an extrovert or introvert has almost nothing to do with true confidence. Actually ‘extroverted’ confidence, or ‘loud’ confidence, is fake confidence. Being loud, noticed, or even obnoxious is an indication that a person desires true confidence but doesn’t have it. Your goal to have confidence is not to transform into some sort of extrovert. True confidence is quiet. True confidence is kind. True confidence is being okay with failure, because our foundation is the saving grace of Jesus Christ. True confidence has an eternal perspective, resting in God’s faithful promises so that we remain steadfast in every moment and every season of life. True confidence can only be found in Jesus.”
She looked at the ground, tears in her eyes.
“Do you know what 1 Peter 3:3-5 says?” I asked her.
She paused, “No.”
“Do you know what Psalm 139 says?”
“No.” she responded quietly, probably expecting that Christian checklist shame. Little did she know that I couldn’t care less about memorizing scripture or faithfully reading our bibles every day. But I genuinely care about her spiritual health – and spiritual health grows when the inerrant scriptures are living in our hearts and when we spent time with Jesus regularly. Side effects of growing spiritually may result in the memorization of scripture or reading our bibles every day, but that’s not what saves us.
“Would you like to take a break from round-penning and go read some scripture?”
She looked up at me with hope in her eyes, “Yes.” We left the horse right there in the round pen and went inside to read some scriptures. I prayed that God would give her understanding of who He has made her to be.
Twenty minutes later we went back out to the round pen and Stephanie had a whole new demeanor. She had a confident demeanor. It was new. It was fresh. She was clearly motivated by the truth we found in God’s perfect words. You could tell it was like trying on high heels for the first time and trying to run in them, but she had true confidence on. The horse trotted around the round pen perfectly!
“See!” I exclaimed, “you still don’t know exactly what you are doing in the round pen, but your true confidence made all the difference!”
Child’s name was changed for confidentiality.
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands…” –1 Peter 3:3-5
“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.