Would you allow me to be completely real with you for just a minute?
Great, thank you. There’s something I’ve been needing to get off my chest.
Here’s the thing: I know nothing about anything.
Much to the irritation of my pride, this reality rings truer and truer in my life with each passing day. Can you relate?
Apparently, the transition between being a dependent teenager and becoming a (
semi)independent adult is even more uncomfortable and embarrassing than puberty – and I honestly didn’t think that was possible.
When I was younger, I imagined that becoming an adult would be a quick, seamless process. A logical assumption, right? All those individuals wishing to “adult” proceeded to get their high school diploma, graduate college (which is supposed to be a cinch, of course), get hired to work their ideal job, get married, have children, never struggle in life, have tons of money, etc. Basically, all your dreams come true – and your life is exactly as you envisioned it at an innocently naive 10 years old.
Boy. . .I was completely wrong about everything.
This strangely beautiful season of life can be downright unpleasant, while also somehow managing to be filled with the most exciting, thrilling adventures you’ve experienced thus far. It’s an adrenaline rush of emotions and fears and hopes, and there are moments when you stand on a mountaintop, overlooking the world – because no task is too large for your ambition, and nothing can hold you back from chasing the dreams God has woven into the fabric of your being.
But then there are those moments when you feel miniscule and insignificant – because what could you really offer such a frightening, brazen world filled with so many accomplished, experienced people? Doubt starts to creep in, and the reality that you may not make a difference aches like nothing else you’ve ever felt. And so you find that life, while bursting with joy and opportunity, can also be fraught with growing pains and discomfort. It’s full of failure and awkwardness and new responsibilities and stress and thoughts of the uncontrollable future and trust falls and tears.
I’ve personally been struggling to come to terms with the weird transitional stage of life that has become my home in recent months. You see, in middle school and high school I was the “mature friend,” the person to whom others came when they had a question or wanted advice. A year and half ago I felt knowledgeable, capable, and accomplished. . .and now that I’m in college, I feel like a babbling idiot half of the time. No one would listen to the musings of an uneducated young person like me – and even if someone did express interest, do I really have anything worth saying?
In the midst of this struggle, I have learned one very important fact: there is a distinct difference between a healthy dose of humility and the crippling habit of tearing oneself down.
I’m going to say that one more time because I want you to hear it. Humility and self-doubt are two very different things! I have wasted too much time confusing the two, and I don’t want you to fall prey to the same misconceptions.
Self-depreciation, or self-doubt, is belittling or undervaluing oneself. It is cheapening your gifts, your hopes, and your passions, choosing to believe that you are less than who God has created you to be.
Humility, on the other hand, is a modest, unpretentious opinion or estimation of one’s own importance. It is recognizing and embracing the reality that you are not, and never will be, the center of the universe. Scripture expands upon that definition even further, stating that “humility is the fear of the LORD,” the wages of which are honor and life (Proverbs 22:4a).
Humility recognizes Christ as our LORD, Maker, and Savior; self-depreciation whispers that God Himself somehow made a mistake when He created you. Humility strives to put others first; self-depreciation discourages you from serving those around you by claiming that you could never even hope to influence others. Humility is an honest estimation of where you are in life; self-depreciation declares that all of your progress, all of the things you have learned, are futile. Humility is life-giving and empowering because it removes all obstructions as Christ works in and through you; self-depreciation deprives you of joy and cheapens the ministry God desires to work in your life.
The difference is pretty drastic, isn’t it?
I hope and pray that you would seek humility – not self-depreciation, self-doubt, or pride. That you would take confidence in who Christ has intentionally created you to be. That you would grow in wisdom and stature with the Lord each passing day. And, most of all, that you would look to our gracious God for guidance, no matter in what stage of life you find yourself.
Please know that you are not alone, nor will you ever be – having gone before you are millions of successfully adulting individuals who have followed God’s call on their lives and pursued His heart.
Have hope and take courage, my friend!