LETTERS TO MY SON: confidence
She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night.
It is early as I write these words. The summer sun is just tinting a smattering of wispy clouds with the barest glimmer of translucent light. I sit outside watching the world awake.
Upstairs three of my grandchildren lie sprawled in that deepest of slumbers only happy children know. They are safe and they are loved and they know it.
When they wake up they’ll clamor for more of the fun that comes from having a Pops who is still a kid at heart. Maybe they’ll want “awful waffles” (Phil’s title for frozen waffles in a box) for breakfast. Or a sip of “Pop’s wa” (the sparkling water Phil drinks). And they’ll ask with confidence, knowing full well that these two grandparents pretty much never say “no”.
I think we used up that word on our four kids and now just don’t have the heart to ever say it again!
Jude and Mo and Sunday have absolute confidence in our love for them. They know beyond even the slightest doubt that we have their best interests at heart, that we want only good for them, that we will go to great lengths to make sure they have all they need and more.
They are safe here, fully able to rest and be who they are. Confident.
And that is what I want to talk to you about today, Matt.
Your dad and I have laid a foundation of safety and security for you. By God’s grace our home has been a place of refuge—far from perfect, but fully stable.
Unlike so many fathers, your dad has been faithful and present. He has fulfilled his role as Priest of the home, as Provider for his family, and as Protector of all of us. You have a rare gift in that, Matthew.
But now you are launching out on your own. You have to carve your own way, make your own decisions, choose for yourself how you will live.
You will no longer have your Dad just a few feet away to warn you of danger, nor will I be there to soothe away the hurts that come from living in a world of sharp edges and bumpy roads.
But you will have Jesus. That One who is your real safety, who is always watching over you, who fully knows who you are and who you can be.
He knows how He wants to use you in His story of redemption for a world that needs more of those stories in real time.
My son, if you will live fully in the presence of this One, if you will place all your hope and confidence in Him, inviting Him into every aspect of your life, then and only then will you experience the confidence that comes to those who revere Him. “For the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” Proverbs 3:26
A man or a woman who places their entire confidence in God is neither insecure nor dependent on others for approval. Such a man or woman has this underlying sense that “her gain is good” Proverbs 31:18. She does not have to prove herself or boast about her accomplishments. Such a man knows that he is on assignment from God, that he has work to do and if he does it well and faithfully he will hear just the sweetest echo of the words he longs for: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” And that’s all the reward he craves.
Only a close and honest walk with God can give you that kind of confidence, Matthew. Not perfect grades, not stellar reviews, not pats on the back from important people.
You will never be as good nor as bad as some people will paint you to be.
But if you will learn to put your confidence, your sense of who you are as a man, in God—if you will look to Him for approval, knowing His grace covers you and carries you where you lack—then you will experience that same sense of safety and well-being my grandbabies are experiencing right now.
Perfect rest. Trust. Peace.
And Matthew, marry a woman who has found that same confidence in the only One who can give it fully. Do not marry a woman who looks to you for her sense of self or beauty or approval or worth. Do not marry a woman because she makes you feel better than you are. Marry someone and be someone who is safe simply because you have found real safety in Jesus’ startling love for you.
How will you spot that kind of woman?
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you watch her life (and your own!):
- Is she the same person no matter who she’s with?
- Does she get her feelings hurt easily? Or do you get mad easily?
- Does she have a sense of purpose? Do you?
- Does that purpose help her/you make wise choices?
- Is she able to be a graceful woman in intimidating social situations?
- Is she able to follow with finesse or does she control and manipulate to get her way?
- Does she/do you need the limelight? Or can she/can you let others shine?
- Does she/do you need to be right all the time?
- Is she interested in other people? Does she ask questions about them, about you?
- Is she proud of you?
Last night on the way home from church, your dad showed me in full color what this confidence in the Lord looks like. He’d just finished preaching four times throughout the day. He was tired, poured all out. But instead of giving in to his need for quiet and rest and assurance that he’d done well, he became a human juke box. First Jude requested a song, then Moses. Sunday got to shaking her imaginary maracas as Phil launched into all their favorites.
This man who had spent his day preaching to thousands, gave his night to singing to a rapt audience of three.
Why? Because his confidence, his sense of who he is, has been fully formed by Jesus. Whether waxing eloquent about the true definition of joy found in Philippians or showing the true meaning of joy to three giggly grandchildren, your dad knows he is honored to serve His Savior.
That’s what this looks like, son. May you know such soul-lifting confidence in your Savior and may you find a wife who knows it too.
From my heart,