Saturday, May 20, 2006

GRADUATING CONFIDENCE

ONE WEEK AWAY. I admired Jared singing tonight in his last choral concert at Ben Davis High School. He exuded grace and confidence in the music and dance, just as he did on the soccer field. We are as proud of Jared as parents can be. I keep telling him so, too. I want him to know and feel our support, prayers, and desire for his happiness.

We're one week away from the high school graduation of our oldest son and going through the “last” of everything--last concert, last awards sports banquet... The prom and senior skip day have come and gone. Just about the only things left are the Evening of Excellence and Graduation Ceremony next Friday evening.

CONFIDENT SENIOR. Jared seems to be taking all these events and the closure they represent in stride. He bears the confidence of a senior. I suppose it is the confidence, in part, of being eighteen and having successfully navigated the terrain of a large, metropolitan high school. I suppose it is the confidence, in part, that comes from having played team sports proficiently enough to be a two-year captain of the sectional championship soccer squad and having a college team anticipating your August arrival. I suppose it comes, in part, from having matriculated through the same school system and having familiarity with students and common friendships. But it may well come from other places in his soul. Wherever it comes from, I hope this confidence serves him well through commencement and into his next chapter of education and life.

WORKING AT CONFIDENCE. Confidence is an interesting thing. I don’t know any way to measure its value or depth except to relate it to its sources. My sources of confidence have changed and varied over the years. So have the levels of confidence with which I move about in life. There have been times when my confidence in my own abilities of intellect and savvy have been relatively high. At other times and in certain situations self doubt has almost overwhelmed me. Confidence doesn't seem to be a constant; it depends on what and from where we draw our confidence for various aspects of our lives. It seems to grow with time, effort, repetition of action, focus, mastery, and grace. We can be confident in some things we do or confident in something that we are or are related to. I was a confident wrestler after three years of training, tough matches, lots of losses, and finally some solid wins against opponents who'd previously pinned me. I was not confident in my academic aptitude until graduate school.

RE-SOURCING CONFIDENCE. Confidence, it seems to me, must relocate along the way. Self-confident swagger in one's physical, intellectual or relational abilities reaches its limits. They reveal themselves to be inadequate for the challenges of the world's need and potential. Somewhere during the past twenty-five years, the core of my confidence shifted from my own natural abilities and “self-confidence” more toward confidence in God’s grace and love at work in me, for me, and for the good of others and the world. The point of reference changed from me to something beyond me; I began to locate confidence more in relationship to grace and my participation in recognizing, expressing, and extending it. In this, my confidence is growing, though not without ebb and flow.

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