Rev. Fr Uche Cornelius Okeke has a PhD in Clinical Psychology. He taught for about 9 years at Pope John Paul II Major Seminary, Awka, and now on Mission in the US, where he is currently the pastor (parish priest) of St. Andre Bessette Parish, in Ecorse Michigan. He has written five books on the Catholic priesthood, Marriage and Relationships.
Have a happy and fruitful reading
Fr Martin Anusi
There is a tremendous talk today about self-confidence, self-esteem, self-image, sense of self, etc. These terms are descriptive of enduring patterns of thinking about our self-worth, capabilities, giftedness, talents, and the extent we trust ourselves to be able to translate these thoughts into action. Self-confidence is basically trust in oneself, so that one is proactive towards life as a whole, and especially in facing the challenges life presents. Self-confidence grows from the initial trust we have in our parents and in the important persons in our lives. They remain the foundation of our development as unique individuals. Authentic self-confidence is not same as narcissistic self-inflation, for the later, is what it is – an inflated confidence. Narcissistic confidence is always a mask of weak or brittle self-esteem, and is more interested in maintaining a façade of confidence and perfection that does not have real root within. In this reflection I am talking of authentic self-confidence and not the arrogant but weak confidence of a narcissist!
No matter how self-confident we are, there comes a time when the normal breakdown that takes place in life begins to sow seeds of self-doubt, guilt, shame, meaninglessness, and chaos. Such moments are usually unexpected, but are part of human life. We sometimes go through experiences that are so hard and painful that the scar constantly reminds us of how weak and vulnerable we can be. There are also times we find ourselves surprised by our actions – things we never would imagine we would do! How many ever thought on their wedding day that they would end up in divorce or with soured marital relationship? How many ever thought they would not have the best kids? How many kids would believe their Dad or Mom would abandon them? How many married couples would dream they would cheat on their spouses or be cheated on? How many Catholics would even imagine their trusted priests and/or bishops would betray them? Would you ever think that your best friend would betray you or eventually be the person living comfortably with your spouse? Would you believe that you would lose the lucrative job you had, and which gave you the good livelihood you had? How can you understand that you did everything for your children and they never showed you any gratitude? What of sickness: did you ever think you would come down with an illness that would radically change the way you live your life? So many of such questions!
But you see, it is situations and events like these that we encounter in our lives, and which strongly shake our confidence in life and in ourselves. That is why Jesus Christ tries to lift us up a step higher from self-confidence to God-confidence; and he assures us that we are His sheep and He is our Shepherd; we are forever safe in His hands, in and beyond this world. No one and nothing; no kind of experience should be able to take anyone of us out of His hands, (Jn. 10: 27-28) because we belong to Him (1 Cor. 3:23). It is the Father who gave us to Jesus, and the Father “is greater than all, and no one can take you out of the Father's hand” (Jn. 10:30).
God-confidence is the deepest security; it is peace in troubled times; it is the shield we need against all the fears, anxiety, shame and guilt we experience every day. God-confidence protects us from all those breakdowns of life that tend to get us wind up into despair. It is the most potent antibiotic against all kinds of psycho-social bacteria that attack our joy and inner peace. In God we find truest security and peace. When God-confidence is the foundation of your self-confidence, then you shall have built the house of your life on solid rock: rain can come, snow may fall, tornado may rage, and the earth may quake underneath you, but your life stands tall, unshaken and unbeaten (Luke 6:48). For life in God is the most secure. But this God-confidence requires one thing: the willingness to live in truth and self-honesty. It is a mimic of God-confidence when one's life is built on manipulation and a disregard for truth and honesty.
Take time this week to remember to remind yourself that God is truly your confidence; that you are safe in His hands and you are willing to live in His Truth. Use it to encourage people around you that are going through a difficult time; teach your children this week to speak to God in familiar terms. May God bless you as you do so. Amen