Friday, November 1, 2013

A Good Word for Confidence

I know what to do with pride.  All the spiritual literature tells us to be careful about pride.  In the Christian list of sins, pride ranks right up there.  Pride is usually linked to our egos.  Pride typically is rooted in an egotistical attempt to have it our own way.  So I get it, when it comes to pride.

However it gets tricky, because that might imply the best way to avoid pride is to be a loser in life.  Don’t do anything good or important and you will have no problem with pride.  Be a disaster and pride will never haunt you.  We can poke fun at this perspective, but it can teach us that aiming to be a loser in life is stupid.  And most people are not stupid.

As I thought about it some more, it occurred to me that an alternative to pride is confidence.  I would never argue they are synonyms.  Clearly, they are not the same thing, but I do think they may be related.

As I ponder both ideas---pride and confidence---I came to this distinction.  I see pride as the outcome; it is a result.  Pride is what one thinks or feels about something positive.  Pride in its negative form typically points to exaggeration. It is rooted in overestimation of the situation.  “I’m the best.”  “I am the most beautiful.”  These are estimations of pride.

I see confidence as process, rather than outcome.  Confidence is more means than it is ends.  Pride is more like fact; confidence is more of a hope.  Confidence is hopeful, but it is not successful.  The outcome is not yet determined in the process of confidence.  There is hope for success, but failure is a possibility.  Usually when pride is involved, failure is not an option.  Let’s pursue a bit further the process of confidence.

I am glad of the facility I have with some languages.  When I pondered the word, “confidence,” I immediately had a clue.  I knew the root of the word were the three letters, “fid-“  “Faith,” I thought to myself.  “Fid-“ is from the Latin word, fides.  And fides means “faith” or “trust.”  And of course, the “co” on the front of any word is nothing more than the Latin preposition, “with.”  So confidence is literally to have “faith with” or to “trust in.”

If I have confidence in someone or something, I have faith in it.  I trust it.  I can even have confidence in myself.  I can trust my students.  I certainly have confidence in my kids and I hopefully will learn to have confidence in my grandkids.  But I also realized that confidence is not the same thing as guarantee.  I was correct.  Confidence is hope.

Confidence is hope in the process of working itself out.  Failure is still a possibility.  But I have confidence that I or you will work something out and be successful.  For example, I have confidence that I know some Latin.  But there is no pride in knowing Latin.  I know I am not perfect.  There is so much I don’t know.  I forget some things I once knew. 

As I have been thinking about pride and confidence, I realized I did discover a good word for confidence.  That word was “faith.”  Of course at this point, it is easy to pivot to the spiritual level.  I do have faith in God.  I have faith that God is creative and loving.  I have faith that God wants good things for me and from me.  All this means I have confidence in my sense of who God is and how God works. 

But there is no pride.  I am not positive that this is truly God.  I have no guarantee that what I am saying about God is exactly the case.  I am not proud that I know this God and cannot possibly be wrong. 

My relationship with God is a process because it is a faith journey.  I have begun a relationship with God and it is a little further down the road than it was in the beginning.  But it is a process.  Today was a little step on that journey and tomorrow will be yet another step.  I am on the way.  I am making my way.  It is a hopeful way.  But there is no guarantee.  For me personally, I don’t see the destiny as predestination. 

My destiny is to be with the Spirit.  I have faith I will be and trust that I am on the way.  Because I see it this way---a way of the Spirit and a way of faith---there is no room for pride.  My spiritual faith journey is not predestined.  I could be detoured, delayed or destructed on the way. 

I am confident in my part of the journey, but I have more confidence in God being who God really is.  In the end I will say, “thank God,” rather than “thank me.”  There is no room for pride in this journey.  There really is a good word for confidence: faith.  And with faith, there is hope.  Thank God

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