Self-Improvement


Like everyone else, I have issues. I am not perfect. I am beautifully, uniquely, and infuriatingly flawed. Of course I’ve always known this about myself, but marriage tends to act as a mirror that points out even the most minuscule imperfections. The last two years have been amazing, and I love being married to Jake; but sometimes it’s not so fun to be forced to face those areas where I need improvement. There are some aspects of my character that I will never be able to change, no matter how much I try. Perfection is not the goal I want to reach; I just want to attempt some upkeep on my less-than lovable qualities.

One in particular that I’ve decided to focus on at the moment is my confidence. This is a much broader area than I originally thought. Several minor flaws exist under the umbrella of low self-confidence and self-worth. There’s the constant need for approval, the nagging questions of whether or not I am good enough at my job, as a wife, as a friend, the refusal to admit when I’ve screwed up because I can’t handle seeing myself that way, the long-held grudges, the regret, the feeling of defeat, the constantly changing opinions based on who I’m talking to, the red-tinged tunnel vision of fury and disappointment when I feel like someone has hurt me…Not the least of these is the tendency to constantly seek approval for my decisions and to second guess myself too often. There have been times when I’ve asked for help and I didn’t get the response I wanted, so I got discouraged because I didn’t think I was capable of handling things on my own. I am incredibly blessed because I have an amazing support system in my husband and my family, but everyone has been let down by friends or even by themselves before. 

I think part of my problem is that I care entirely too much about most things. I want everything to be just so, and in my head I have a very specific picture of how that looks. I am relatively decent at handling situations when they don’t work out exactly the way I pictured, but I tend to be harder on myself with decisions later. When people let me down I take it pretty hard. My husband is the opposite. He is always sure of himself and of his decisions, he doesn’t even bat an eye when someone lets him down (even if I’m angry enough to plow them over with a steamroller. . .and still would given the opportunity), and he bounces back from everything so quickly. We are each at the opposite extreme. I hold grudges and once I’ve been burned by you I don’t typically give you an opportunity to do it again. I shut down and shut you out; sometimes not out of my life but out of my heart. I have a hard time letting go. 

I don’t like admitting when I’ve screwed up because that would mean dealing with the fact that there is something wrong with me; that I didn’t do something right. It’s hard for me to recover from that. It seems like stubbornness and pride would stem from the problem of over-confidence, but for me I think it comes from the fear of having to admit to myself that I’ve done something wrong. I am so afraid of feeling guilty or bad about myself that I don’t like saying “I’m sorry.” I’m afraid it somehow devalues me, which I know is completely ridiculous, but that doesn’t keep me from thinking that way.

I want to be able to recognize my own value, instead of needing confirmation from everyone else. I want to be sure of my decisions and actions. I don’t want to be easily swayed by other’s opinions. I want to be confident on my own, and not because someone has expressed gratitude for something I’ve done or complimented me. I don’t want to need that verbal recognition. I want to take ownership of my actions and have enough self-assurance to recognize that my mistakes don’t lower my worth. As much as it pains me to admit, I want to be a little bit more like my husband in this regard. It isn’t fair to Jake if I am continually needing reassurance from him for everything from what I’m wearing, to whether or not I said the right thing in this or that situation, to how to handle a conflict with a friend or family member. It’s not fair for him if I am wishy-washy with my decisions based on who I’ve spoken to that day. It’s not fair for him if I can’t ever tell him I’m sorry. I know I need and deserve his support, and I know he will always give it to me, but he should never be held responsible for the way I view myself. It all goes back to what they teach middle school age girls in Sunday school. . .find your worth in Christ, not in what others think of you. 

Jake is wonderful, amazing, incredible. . .he is everything I could have asked for in a husband and more. But it is completely unfair for me to expect him to fulfill a desire in my heart that only Christ can fill. Really that’s what it all boils down to. He, like me and everyone else, is also imperfect. I have to remember that I am a Child of the King; that although I am unworthy I am still saved by grace through faith. I won’t get everything right, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be confident in myself and my decisions. Most women struggle with confidence, so I know I’m not alone. I like to think that I put on a better front than others, but I’m not sure if that’s something to be proud of. I’m trying to focus on this aspect of my character because I believe so much else stems from it. 

I need to fall in love with Jesus over and over again every day. I need to remind myself every day of how much he loves me and of the fact that he believed I was worth the sacrifice of his life. 

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Courtney Livingston

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