When G was 5, we had her in gymnastics. A favorite treat after class was playing at the nearby park before we went home.
The monkey bars totally freaked her out. Until one day she hitched herself up and literally yelled to the entire neighborhood I BELIEVE IN MYSELF! As she swooped across those bars like it was nothing and dropped down at the end, she stood about 6 inches taller than she was when she started. I snapped a photo after she made her claim – this has always been one of my favorite pictures of her. I love the look of determination and solid belief on her face.
If only we could remember to claim our belief with that much confidence into adulthood.
I know what I believe when things are good. But when life gets “lifey” as my friend Michelle says, it’s harder to claim belief and find solid ground.
So what’s the one belief you hold onto?
Through tough business cycles, I remind myself that my leadership matters.
When ministry feels hard, I step back to admit I am really doing it all for an audience of One.
When friendships fade or fray, I continue to believe that the right people will stick no matter what.
On days where I’ve been more Evil Stepmother than Mary Poppins, I am grateful that despite my imperfections, God made me the perfect mother for my children.
As our marriage hits bumps in the road, I find solid footing on my tried-by-fire knowledge that we’ve already made it through the worst of the worst.
I did not always have this confidence or these beliefs, in any of these areas.
As I reflect on all I’ve learned (and am continuing to learn) in business, ministry, relationships, parenting, and marriage, I realize any confidence I’ve gained has grown out of the pain of disappointment. But before I had confident footing on solid ground, all I had was shaky balance on a tiny stone.
You see, in times of new beginning or struggle or disappointment, sure footing is hard to find.
When you don’t have much belief of your own, just grab onto what’s right within your reach.
As a baby business owner, all I had to hold onto was the training I was given.
When I was a new ministry leader, all I knew to tell myself was that someone was counting on me to show up.
When my first adult friendships broke, I had to repeat to myself over and over that seasons – and sometimes people – come and go, and that the right people will love me for me. Even the ugly parts.
When I blew it big time as a mother of young children, I had to trust the veterans who said the kids won’t even remember what happened and I can try again better tomorrow.
And when my marriage was falling apart, all I could do was pray and hold on one more day.
Change starts with you
When even one of these important areas of my life feels shaky, my whole life feels off-kilter. Imagine what happens when more than one area is out of whack? What happens when they’re all out of whack?
I know it’s not pretty because that’s exactly what happened. When the most important area to me (my marriage) got sideways, it threw off every single other area too. It warped my whole life because it threw me off.
When everything around you is going wrong, what’s the common denominator?
When nothing changes, nothing changes. And change starts with you. What are you telling yourself?
Your beliefs become your thoughts,
your thoughts become your words,
your words become your actions,
your actions become your habits,
your habits become your values,
your values become your destiny.— Gandhi
Even the tiniest belief will do
Can I tell you what tiny bit of solid ground actually held our whole marriage mess together? My unwavering belief that our little family is something special, even when the parents didn’t like each other much.
That was the only sure thing I knew, and all I had. Since I knew that to be true, my mind and heart could go to work finding more evidence to support that fact. I could watch my husband talk and play with our children and build respect for him, one baseball practice at a time. I could listen to him read to them at night and begin to hope and trust that he could offer me that kind of tenderness, too. I could be vulnerable with small things and when he treated them with care, offer bigger pieces of my heart.
Those little spots of solid ground slowly started to connect and form a pathway I could trust moving forward. One tiny, and sometimes very scary, step at a time. (All of this applied to me too, because he didn’t trust me an inch either. I had to earn back his trust and confidence piece by piece just like he had to earn mine. His tiny unwavering belief? Well, I asked him. And though the belief he clung to was similar to mine, it had a slightly different angle and included a lot of very colorful words I should not type here. The point is, it doesn’t matter what you hold onto as long as it keeps you in the game and hopeful for the future.)
Claim belief, no matter how small, in every area that matters
Wherever you are in these areas of your life that matter most to you, find some footing – even if it’s one tiny toe on one tiny rock. Choose to believe a new idea, or invest in it with better words and actions. Try it. It might hold weight after all. And as you learn to trust your shaky foot on that tiny surface, you’ll find bigger and stronger footing as you go.
You’ll learn to trust people. You’ll learn to trust yourself. You might even grow to believe better and stronger things about each situation (and person) as they prove themselves to be true. It’s a slow build but when you stay faithful to the process, you’ll establish strength you never imagined possible. Mental strength. Emotional strength. Spiritual strength (the best strength of all).
What belief can you claim? Let it bring you solid footing in all the ways that matter most.
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This I Believe (the Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women) by Jay Allison
This I Believe II (More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women) by Jay Allison
I know I keep sending you to these specific books and I am sure I will continue to do so. There’s something really game-changing about connecting yourself with people who know what they stand for. Want to shape your own beliefs into more solid ground? Wrestle with them. Ask yourself hard questions. Challenge what you took at face value as a child and test it out in real life. Read biographies of people you admire and want to learn from. Because stretching yourself is the best work you’ll ever do.