Thursday, March 11, 2010

Book Club Thursday- The Confident Woman Chapter Ten

This week in The Confident Woman, Joyce gave 10 steps towards independence. This independence is more of an independence from people and realizing our dependence on God. I will be sharing these 10 steps with you and also my take on the steps, personal examples, or ways to apply them. As always, check out Kristi's blog to see her insights on this chapter.

1. Break away from other people's expectations. This was a huge one for me. My father used to have a saying for us growing up. "Others can. You cannot." Because my father was in full time ministry for a time, there were certain realistic (behavior becoming a follower of Christ) and unrealistic expectations put on us by those around us. I distinctly remember talking in the lobby with one of the young men from my high school Sunday school class- nothing serious, just as Sunday school/youth group friends. There were two women standing nearby who obviously thought I couldn't hear them say, "Suzette is talking to a boy!" I wanted to cry and laugh because they were making something that their daughters did all the time into something that was taboo for me. I can tell you, for a while, I didn't talk to any of my guy Sunday School friends in the lobby.

Even with Addie, although I am blessed to have family that generally understand what and how we are trying to teach her, there are still times when a rule or conviction of ours may not be understood by someone. We need to remember that we ultimately do not answer to people in the raising of our children, but to God. We need to stop trying to be people pleasers (which usually leads to stress and frustration because it is impossible to please everyone) and become pleasers of God.

I also believe that breaking away from the expectations of others must be done with humility. Having an attitude of pride can be just as harmful to our spirits as living up to the expectations of others.

2. Learn to cope with criticism. Criticism is all around us. For some, it is the only way they know how to have a conversation. They may not mean to criticize you, but the very tone of the words drips with criticism. We need to develop thick skin in order to hear criticism and not have it affect our confidence. Criticism can be very useful to us if we are willing to apply it as a tool. It can help us to make those necessary changes in our lives that we have been putting off.

3. Do something outrageous. Okay, I am very happy to stay at home and do my thing here with my little family around me. Yes, I like to go out with my family, but outrageous! Doing the outrageous means that I have to take a step out of my comfort zone and that is very uncomfortable. Yes, talking about stepping out of the comfort zone sounds exciting when we talk about it, but actually doing it! I am the teenager who waited until the week before I began college to get my license because I had to commute an hour each way! I am the young married woman who was thrilled to marry the love of her life, and was also happy that Mom and Dad temporarily moved a few blocks down the road from us while their house was being built! For me, right now, outrageous is getting about three inches cut off of the length of my hair! However, if we never do anything outrageous, we become stagnant as people and that is a recipe for a disastrous life.

4. Have your own opinion. Not the opinion of your friends and family, but your very own opinions that you have thought out and processed for yourself. Long ago and far away, it was outrageous for women to have opinions on religion, politics, society, personal beliefs, finances, etc. However, we no longer live in those times. It is crucial for us to form our own opinions. Do not just rely on what a commentator says the interpretation of Scripture is. Read it for yourself, pray and ask God to open your eyes to the insights he wants to show you, and let God form the opinion in your heart and mind. Yes, gather as much input as you can, but don't allow your opinion to be a copycat version of someone else's opinion. Especially in the world and country we live in today. It is important to view all sides of the arguments being presented and form your own opinion, not just taking what is being said and going along with it.

Two of my favorite female TV personalities are Judge Judy and Megyn Kelly from Fox News. These are two women who have been blessed with incredible intelligence, have formed their own opinions, and are not afraid to speak their minds. Yes, in our relationships and with people we come across in our days, we need to show tact, kindness, and love, but we also need to make sure that we do not cower in the face of differing opinions. We need to have an opinion and not be afraid to share it...with tact.

5. Refuse to pretend. Pretending can be detrimental to us rather than be a help. By pretending, we are outwardly showing an agreement of or to something that inwardly eats us up. It can create bitterness inside of us that will only affect us.

6. Say "No" when you need to. There are many ways to say "no". "I'm sorry but...", "Thank you for the invite but...", "I would love to help out but...", or "No, I am not able to at this time." There are times when we need to say no. Don't allow it to become a habit, but do become familiar with the word so when it is necessary, you can say "No" kindly and with confidence.

7. Spend time with the people who give you space to be yourself. We need to surround ourselves with people who free us to be who God created us to be. These are the people who do not hold us to their expectations. I have found that my closest friends (you know who you are) are the ones that I can be myself with. I do not have to conform to what they want me to be, they do not try to control who I am or what I do, and we can have a great time together being ourselves.

My friends vary in many ways. Some have children, some do not. Some are single, some are married. Some live close by, some live across the country. Some are stay-at-home moms, some work. I can text them when I need prayer or just to say hi and share what our babies are doing at any given moment. We can scrapbook side by side and share ideas even though our styles differ. I can be Suzette-the-mom-that-is-trying-to-get-it-right-but-I-need-your-advice-on.... I can Facebook them to "watch" a ballgame across the miles, and laugh and cheer in statuses and comments when our team wins the game. We can sit in my living room on the floor and have a great conversation. These are my friends. The ones who let me be Suzette and who can also be themselves. I love you guys.

8. Watch children. Children are great to watch. They just don't care who is watching. They are going to be themselves. I have mentioned before that I admire the confidence that I see in Addie. She began a cold on Tuesday night (guess where she caught it from) and all day yesterday, we dealt with a runny nose. Despite the runny nose, when Brian and Faye came home, she just assumed they wanted hugs from her. When Grandpa came over, she just figured that he came to see her. When people come over, she assumes they are there to see her toys, and she brings them out for them to play with. When the phone rings, she just assumes that someone is calling for her. A bad hair day does not affect her feeling of confidence. A spot on her outfit (now that she is feeding herself) doesn't mean she has to reevaluate her sense of value. Her tummy sticking out does not mean that she needs to find a more figure flattering outfit. Oh, the things we can learn from watching a child!

9. Fight off stagnation. We need chase our ideas, run with the ball, and get out and do. I am always looking for new ways to do the everyday things in our home. Honestly, for many of us, our days look the same. By finding new ways of doing the same old things, we are keeping ourselves from being stagnant, from falling into a rut. As a teacher, we went to a teacher's convention once a year. I always looked forward to these conventions because of the new tricks, tips, and techniques they would share with us on how to be a better teacher. We had already had at least 4 years of college in order to have our positions, but these conferences helped us to keep from being stagnant as teachers. In the same way, as women, wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, daughters-in-laws, and friends, we need to look for ways to keep our lives from being stagnant. We need to look for ways to better ourselves in the positions that God has called us to. Take a class, read up on a new subject, branch out and begin a new hobby. The possibilities are endless.

10. With God all things are possible. As we begin taking steps towards being confident women, we need to remember that with God all things are possible. We can be confident as women, wives, mothers, students, etc. because God will give us the strength that we need in order to accomplish His work in us. Be confident in that fact.


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