How to Grow in Confidence

Many single parents struggle with feeling confident. Whether rooted in messages we received in childhood, or the experiences we’ve had in past relationships, confidence can elude us. Sometimes we just don’t feel like we are enough.
Single mom, Marissa, joins Robert and Kimberley as they talk about how to grow in confidence. Staring down the road of so many unknowns as a single parent can leave us wondering if we have what it takes. When Marissa became a single mom, she cried out to God and said, “I can’t do this and here’s why”, and God said, “Let me show you that we can. Let me show you that it’s going to be okay, but you’re right, you can’t, but I can.” Recently, she had shoulder surgery and while once she might have thought, “How will I ever do this on my own?”, she’s found that it’s been remarkable to discover that now she is confident God will show up with what she needs.

Being thrust into single parenthood, often unexpectedly, we don’t always go into our new circumstances with full confidence. Sometimes we enter, like Marissa did, with eroded confidence already. She shares what it was like to take those first steps. The first thing was simply to wake up the next day and then do it again the day after that. When we are wounded, our heads are still spinning and we can’t see clearly. We need to focus on just waking up, but as time passes, and weeks become months and then years, we find out we are making progress.

When Marissa was 17 years old, she went rock climbing with her youth group. She was a few feet from the top when she ran out of strength. She was dangling there, not ready to give up so close to the top, but too weak to go the last few feet and ring the bell. Everyone was waiting as she tried to recover so she could make it the rest of the way. But minutes kept ticking by. Finally, her friends all banded together, grabbed the rope, and just heaved her up to the top. She realized at that moment that sometimes God sends his strength inside of us, and sometimes he sends it through those who He surrounds us with.  

As single parents, oftentimes we want to find the strength within ourselves. We think that’s where we will find confidence. But, more important than that is knowing that when push comes to shove, our kids will eat and we will make it through to tomorrow, not because of our own strength but because of the people who will come around us.

During her surgery recovery, Marissa’s neighbors showed up in amazing ways with meals and help when she needed it. Having people to lean on and being willing to be vulnerable enough to say, “This is hard for me” and to let them help you is so important. We think, “I will become more confident when I can do this” but whenever we make it all about “I” the only thing we will find is weakness.  

Often when we think of self-confidence, we think it means self-reliance. That’s not what we are talking about here. The challenge of having to parent alone can become a strength because we realize we can’t do it on our own. It leads us to turn to God as our greatest source of confidence and strength. When we don’t know what to do, when our circumstances seem too big for us, we find ourselves having to turn to God and admit our need for Him and for other people.
Sometimes we try to prop ourselves up and find confidence in what we’ve done, our accomplishments, and our own efforts. Kimberley remembers feeling like she needed to work hard to prove that “We’re okay” so she didn’t have to wear a label as a ‘broken’ single parent family. Although she tried to rely only on herself, she realized she needed the people around her, and Jesus! She also found she needed to stop and rest in the confidence of God. It’s so important to slow down and listen so we can hear His quiet voice.

The apostle Paul boasted in his weakness. Robert shares that this is a big part of his story. As a single parent, he felt like he had failed. Some of us are embarrassed as our broken relationships erode what we once might have been so proud of. As solo parents, we must surrender our perception of what we think our lives should look like. Instead, we need to embrace our weakness, this impairment, and find out that our confidence doesn’t come from our accomplishments or what we do but rather is found in God and how He shows up for us.
Even after four years as a single mom, Marissa shares some things she does when she feels self-doubt. She reminds herself that she’s not alone in her fears. In her career, she recognizes those around her feel doubt and insecurity at times too wondering if they might walk in one day and no longer be valued. When those feelings arise, Marissa reminds herself she will never stop being valuable to God. Mary’s experience with Jesus when He rose from the dead was to have two angels approach her after He was no longer in the tomb. They reminded her, saying, “Don’t you remember Jesus said he was going to rise again?” Later, Jesus appears to her and she thinks He’s a gardener.

When God stands before us, ready to show us who He is, will we see Him as a gardener or as our Savior?

When we put our confidence in God and choose to believe Him, we change what we rely on. When we trust him to be who He says He is and to do what He says He will do, that is where we find true confidence. We need to be able to look at God and embrace the Truth of who He is.
In “My Utmost for His Highest”, Oswald Chambers says, “We look for God to manifest Himself to his children, but God only manifests Himself in His children.” If we want to start seeing God, we have to start reflecting Him through our own heart because that’s where we will sense and hear Him. From that place, we can step out in confidence, putting God first and trusting Him to be sufficient. Even as we do this, we need to be patient. This kind of confidence in Him doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. God teaches us gently and lovingly as we take one step at a time. The goal isn’t self-confidence or feeling like everything is squared away. The goal is walking with God and having faith and confidence that He will show up and that He will be enough.

In considering further how to grow in confidence, these five tips may help:
1. Be proactive. Get support for your kids and yourself. This could be counseling, social connections, and asking for help.
2. Create a positive vision. Develop a clear picture of where you are heading.
3. Prioritize. Don’t sweat the small stuff. There are things that don’t have to get done every day.
4. Make your bed. William McRaven says “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of your day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and then another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never be able to do the big things right. And ,if by chance, you’re having a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that you made, and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
5. Take on some tasks that you can complete. There are lots of things we have to leave undone and there are loose ends we can’t finish as single parents but it’s important to find something you can complete. The full circle of completion gives a sense of accomplishment and builds confidence.
Finally, take some time for yourself. Breathe. Sit quietly. Be still. It’s so important to care for yourself as you are healing and growing.

Growing in confidence isn’t always easy to see in the moment, but when you zoom out later, you will see how far you’ve come. Take it one step at a time as you seek God and learn to trust Him. Be patient! It’s the little changes we make that add up and show us that we can do this. And remember, confidence is not self-reliance. It’s believing that God goes before us, that He is faithful, and that He is with us in every moment. There are practical things we can do too. Build in some intentional habits, like those mentioned here, and take deliberate steps toward them so you can grow in confidence. One day you will look back and see how far you’ve come and how capable you are.
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