Because of the weaknesses I've seen in my character that have stemmed from my competitive spirit, I found that I was particularly saddened by a book I just finished reading. That book is Shannon Miller's new autobiography, memoir titled "It's Not About Perfect: Competing for my country and fighting for my life". I love gymnastics and grew up in the gym, so at first I really enjoyed hearing about her journey and learning more about how a competitive, Olympian gymnast got to the podium. But as the book went on, I began to realize that it was filled with "I did this" and "I did that".... over and over. She attributed her success over and over (and even in the introduction) to her own belief in herself.
Her own belief in herself.
When I realized how that little statement "Believe in yourself." misses God and how He's left out of the picture, I was taken aback. I thought about it for a moment and reflected. It's not bad to believe you can do something, but that belief can be rooted in one of two places. 1) It can be rooted in God, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." When something is achieved, the person knows in their heart it's because of the strength God has given them and who He made them to be. OR 2) The belief that you can save yourself. In essence, you can do it all on your own, don't need anyone, and it's all up to you.
When a tree looks a little different but is surrounded by other trees, it doesn't look that different. But, when it's by itself, it looks very different. For some reason, I hadn't picked up on what it means when someone constantly says "Believe in yourself."
It came up with my children last week as we watched a movie that we really enjoyed. The movie was titled America's Heart and Soul. Disney made it a few years ago. I loved watching it with my children because they got to see people from all of the US and people who live very different lives than ours. But, after each story, I paused the video and talked about specific elements and things the people had said. We talked about a lot of interesting topics in the process--ranging from reincarnation to divorce and child custody arrangements. But, we also got to see an amazing group of aerobatic dancers and an aerobatic pilot. None of the stories presented anyone who believed the gospel and in heaven and hell. There was one pastor who exhorted his church to love one another and get along with each other. He actually says on the video that this is more important than telling people about heaven and hell--and that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. It was a feel good about yourself church. As soon as I opened up the conversation, my oldest daughter brought up a song by Ellie Holcomb that we love:
This is a really powerful song to me. It's so tempting to think that we've done things on our own and forget that it is God--GOD who gives us the strength.
I did explain to my kids what common grace is--grace given to all humankind--that God gives grace to those who do and don't believe in him. He created them and his beauty is seen in the things they do. We see a reflection of God in his creation--all of it.