Monday, February 10, 2014

The Goal of Confidence

I have been wanting to write a blog post for a couple of weeks now and it's not that I didn't have the time. I have had nothing but time these days, unfortunately. Ugh. Sigh.

I know, I know. I should be grateful for this extra time because some of you are busy moms or students or have a job that requires 60+ hours a week! But  I have never been good at just sitting. It comes from my immigrant, hard working, Eastern European farmer ancestors or something. I constantly need to have a plan or some kind of goal that I'm working diligently on. Without those things, I often can feel lost and without any worth or purpose. And that a sad Julia makes.

Confidence is something that I have had an interesting relationship with. I feel like my parents did instill it in me and I was blessed to excel at many things that gave me confidence growing up. But man, if I ever did one of those things a little bit less than perfectly, or even worse- did them WRONG- I was crushed.

This has, apparently, carried into my adult life. I have been told that what has gotten me many gigs or jobs in the past was my confidence (even if it was total ruse! Ha! Fooled them!) and that I seem to carry myself with confidence. But since I have been sitting around with lots of time on my hands, I've started to doubt myself and God's plan and lose my confident identity along with all of that.

Enter the feast of the Presentation and a number of books that I have been reading.

Okay, so like I said, I've been wanting to blog ever since the time around the Feast of the Presentation, Feb. 2. This has always been a fun feast for me. It's no Conversion of St. Paul in my book (man, I am SUCH a nerd! Who has favorite fan feast days like this?!) but I LOVE the Gospel reading for the feast and the event itself.

If you aren't familiar with the story, it goes like this (and I'm paraphrasing Luke's Gospel, of course):

It is Jewish custom to present a newborn in the temple before a priest after it is born (similar to our idea of Baptism, but not really). Mary and Joseph show up and this ooollllllddddddddd man Simeon is there. He has been waiting for the Messiah for FOREVER and has been really patient and faithful about it. Anna, an old widow is also there praying as she has done this ever since her husband died like decades ago. Jesus is brought into the temple and both of them just KNOW that this is the Messiah and they tell Mary and Joseph so. They also are super grateful to God for allowing them to be in the presence of the Messiah before they die.

I have always loved the characters of Simeon and Anna. Maybe because they are old and I have a soft spot in my cold, stoney heart for old people (some women love babies or small dogs...I love geriatric people, particularly men. What can I say). But today when I was praying, it hit me: their faithfulness was rewarded. Their years of praying and waiting- fulfilled and totally worth it. And this makes me happy and hopeful for myself.

So many things can shake our confidence and make us want to give up hope because that is almost easier. We go through a break up, so we obviously are going to be single forever and never get to date again. We don't get a job, so we are obviously going to be unemployed and/or in a miserable soul crushing job for the rest of our lives. I mean, it's possible. We can become that self-fulfilling prophecy, if we choose to let those things truly shake our confidence. OR we can be positive and take our destinies in our hands (with the help of the Lord, of course).

The last time I met with my spiritual director, I was mentioning St. Paul (naturally) and the experience that I had with St. John's feast day as well as reading the St. Hildegard book (all of which I blogged about here). He encouraged me to look at the connections I had with each of them and see if they had anything in common. I also decided to throw St. Therese in the mix 'cause she's been my girl in the past and my resurrected women's group is going to be reading and discussing THIS:

I was praying about it and I discovered that all of these saints had complete confidence in God. St. John and St. Therese my students often see as even bordering arrogant with the way they write about themselves: St. John calling himself the "beloved disciple" in his Gospel and Therese often gushing about being God's little flower or little girl.

Paul and Hildegard are a little more humble on the surface, flat out acknowledging that they are weak in their writings but that they have been given a gift from God that they have to share. Both of them also had visions and were preachers and writers.

So, confidence. After a month or so of floundering around questioning my identity and worth, I finally just kicked myself in the butt and told myself STOP IT. DO STUFF YOU LIKE AND QUIT WORRYING.

I was reading yet another book, but this one a very secular self-helpy type. It suggested making lists of things you've always wanted to do and then set goals of things you will do each week, every other week, or once a month.

And so, I have set goals such as calling friends (like actually calling, not just texting) and setting up get togethers more often, TRAVELING more 'cause that made my heart so happy two years ago, re-committing to my women's prayer group, COOKING at LEAST once a week, playing my piano more, reading a book for fun a week, AND ART CLASS:

 Fingerpainting with acrylics part 1 and is clearly a town in Ireland at night reflected off of water and bottom is Barcelona with the Gaudi bridge in the forefront...I think I'm a natural!
I've already found much peace and reward in my faithfulness to these commitments...banking on the confidence coming back as well :)


1 comment:

LPatter said...

Love this one! (And your awesome paintings!!!) Count me in the crew that has pegged you as one confident lady for the last, oh, 15 years or so! :) (I know, way to make us feel old, right?!) But that insight into the thing on which our confidence rests - it is key. I think it's good for it to get shaken every so often, because we all need opportunities to deepen that total trust and give God permission to access allllll of us. (Can I count this as my vicarious women's group commentary?!) I was thinking about doing enjoyable things recently, especially things of beauty like art or music, and I think in college or sometime along the line I made the mistake of relegating them to lower than the "spiritual" things I was doing, maybe because I thought they were extras or just for pleasure. The thing is, that while they ARE pleasurable, they also express the truth about who we are, and there is a reason humanity has been doing them for years and years!!! We know ourselves better and God too through all of those human expressions. Anyway, I have a sense you get that, but I needed to see how important being a balanced person was and that I'd underestimated how much of me needed to find expression in them. I know you know I will also join you in Catholic Dork-dom anyday - love reading your posts! Lots of love! :)