Saturday, February 23, 2013

Confidence and Grace

I was reading my Patriarchal Blessing recently, and there are a couple of parts that, no matter how many times I read them, make me kind of think, "Well, that can't be right."  The statements seem to conflict with my own self-perception.

But I've decided that if earthly behavior and decisions are any indication of who we were or how we functioned in our premortal existence, those statements that give me pause are probably more true than I often want to think that they are.

I do not have any great self-confidence, and I never have.  I have always hesitated to speak boldly, much less act boldly, and have often hesitated to pursue opportunities (at least initially) because of fear of the unknown, or the difficulty of the known.  I would watch people do or accomplish certain things, and logically I would understand that I was just as intelligent or capable or disciplined, or whatever necessary combination, as those who were pursuing the same opportunities, but I would hesitate, as though they possessed some magic quality that allowed them to succeed where I could not.  This was not necessarily a fully-conscious or articulated idea, but it was very much the psycho-emotional process I would go through in approaching nearly anything new, unknown or difficult.  Something that I had to very consciously remind myself as I got older was that, though I would usually hesitate, I almost never avoided.  When push came to shove, I was usually willing to do the unknown and/or difficult thing, and in the long run, it was never as challenging as getting over the mental hurdle of just taking the first step.  In the long run, I always enjoyed those experiences or relationships and was grateful for them.

I imagine that's similar to how I reacted to Heavenly Father's plan for us when it was presented in the pre-mortal sphere:  fear, nervousness, hesitation--stepping into an entirely unknown realm.  Realizing it would be hard, and doubting myself, my ability to make it worth it.  But then, realizing also that it was the best possible option, that it would be well-worth it in the long run and that, though there was no guarantee of personal success, there was a guarantee of grace to all who would sincerely seek it.  Grace for insufficiencies would give me the courage to attempt.

That's the only thing that has given me the courage necessary to make most of the decisions in my life: grace.  A powerful faith in the unconditional love and indescribable grace of One who gave all for my success.  The three biggest, scariest, nerve-wracking decision in my life--what to do with my life after leaving the shelter of my parents' home, who and when to get married, and when to become a mother (granted that is one decision that was made multiple times, each time a new nervousness, though less)--were only made well because the confidence I had in that grace let me focus on the right things, and gave me the peace to make it possible to listen for that still, small, and wonderfully soothing voice.

From the biggest decisions to the smallest, it is faith in the powerful grace of the Savior--faith in him, and not in myself--that gives me confidence, that helps me to succeed.  It is grace that quashes fear and self-doubt.  And as I rely on that grace to move forward, my confidence in myself also increases, as I achieve more successes in endeavors large and small.  As I rely on grace, my ability to do increases, and then it is by grace that I am saved, after all I can do.

No comments: