Take the time, if you are so inclined, to peruse the Internet, and put to use our newest action verb, “Google It.” The “it” would be a term that most of us probably think we have safely in hand. But to look through the archives of many who have spoken of this particular dynamic over the years, will tell you, if you are honest, that there may be much, much more to the guts behind the concept of our word for today – Confidence. Truthfully, if you’ll actually take a few minutes to do this, the point of this entry will, I think, be proven without much question at all.
Confidence, although direct in its definition, can paint a very inaccurate picture in real life.
Women, they say, love a confident man. But confident in what? Most of us probably, have a healthy level of confidence in at least something. Some are confident in their looks, others in their professional skills. Many are confident that they are financially independent, while others are confident that they will never reach their ultimate monetary goals. Some men are confident in their masculinity, some not so much. And a multitude of men are confident in their relationship with Christ, while a great number of the male population are confident in their belief that there is a God, and think that is quite enough.
Wherever a man’s confidence lies, the true indicator of ultimate confidence comes in how we view ourselves as a person. Because if that confidence is grounded in realness, It is the truth. Not just what we want to believe about ourselves, and moreover what we want others to believe about us.
Nelson Mandela, in his 1994 inaugural speech, said the following regarding the concept of confidence:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Is that quote a head-turner for you? It was for me. But when our air of confidence is not really rooted, but put on, the rubber really never meets the road. Our money is rarely put where our mouth is, and the person that knows that the best is the one that knows us the best – our wives.
Do you think we can, as men, “pretend” to be confident around others, yet fool them?
If you answered “yes” to that question, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.
Here’s why. Across humanity, those that exude the greatest amount of confidence, are frequently those that possess the greatest amount of fear. Remember the school-yard bully in the 4th grade? He was probably bigger, stronger, louder, and meaner than anyone else in the yard.
And at the same time, the most fearful . . .
As a matter of fact, the “things” he picked on others about, were the very things he feared the most about himself.
Did he want to make you feel weak? Self-conscious about your body or body image? To feel badly about the Rustlers that you wore instead of name brand jeans? To point out that you lived in an apartment or mobile home instead of a house of bricks?
Yes, and more.
And the ugly truth about that bully?
He himself feared physical weakness; his own body image; that he would not be the best dressed; and that his family might not always be highly regarded because of where they lived.
Appearing to be confident in areas of our marriages when in fact we are more fearful than anything can result in a lot of “marital game-playing,” that is always destructive, and never productive. Our wives know. That’s it. They just know. When the public persona we “put on” when we walk out the door is not consistent with who we really are, they become keenly aware of the inconsistency, and will often see it as weakness rather than strength.
So while we are strutting our stuff, they are actually pitying us. One of the biggest factors in this “game,” is that eventually, as a simple human dynamic, these weaknesses or perceived weaknesses will be used against us. This is not a criticism of women or wives! In fact, if the tables are turned, men will do the same when they see the need for leverage during almost any type of marital conflict.
A brief example: Mary frequently observes as her husband engages with confidence and concern when couples in their social circles are struggling in their marriages. He makes it a point to go out of his way to meet with the other husband so he can encourage him, pray with him, and give him the opportunity for accountability.
At home however, Mary’s husband seldom, if ever – offers relational encouragement, goes out of his way to right a wrong, or considers prayer with his wife to be something of value or necessity.
It’s that simple. We as men will do our thing with confidence outside the home, while literally shutting down while in it.
Does this ring true for any of you? Have you seen these tendencies or patterns in your own marriage?
And for the rest of us, how have you gone about making them better?
Are ya’ real enough to share them in a comment?
Don’t forget, we all need each other. And being “REAL” enough to admit our struggles and challenges is a part of our journey.
And, as always . . .