Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Michael Jackson and Diana Ross starred in a movie in 1978 that made a powerful statement to black people across America. The movie was entitled the The Wiz, which was an urban version of The Wizard of Oz.
One of the most challenging selections in this colourful screenplay was given by the good witch who sang a song entitled “Believe in Yourself”. Now, I know this can be easily misunderstood as meaning to be arrogant and full of pride. But I am not talking about that interpretation—with faith in God’s power we can have a quiet confidence to face any situation which comes our way. Let me unpack that a bit more for you.
Sometimes when we look at ourselves in the mirror we don’t like what we see. I don’t mean the physical traits, but something deeper than that. You may feel ashamed or guilty. You may feel controlled by a secret. You may have had something happen to you that you haven’t told anyone, or only to a few people.
Perhaps you feel shame about certain aspects of the family you grew up in, or maybe you have habits you feel embarrassed about—such as gossip or criticising others. Maybe you have done some things in your past you are ashamed of. Or maybe something has been done to you that you feel ashamed of.
Believe in yourself but avoid over-confidence
It’s tough to enjoy life when you don’t like yourself. It is good to have confidence, but let’s also be careful that we are not over-confident. And let’s not partner that over-confidence with pride, ignorance and stubbornness. That type of confidence can lead to sad consequences in our life.
There was a stuntman named Bobby Leach, who in July 25, 1911, went over the Niagara Falls in a specially designed steel drum and lived to tell about it. Although he suffered minor injuries, he survived because he recognised the tremendous dangers involved in the feat, and because he had done everything he could to protect himself from harm.
Several years after that incident, while walking down a city street in New Zealand, Bobby Leach slipped on an orange peeling, fell, and badly fractured his leg. He was taken to a hospital where he later died of complications from that fall. He received a greater injury walking down the street than he sustained in going over Niagara. He was not prepared for danger in what he assumed to be a safe situation.
The key is to find your true self
I’ve read that 10% of people will struggle with some form of clinical depression in their lifetime. Depression can be biological or situational, and often can be the result of both. However, one of the leading causes of depression is setting your standards so high that you cannot live up to them. You are constantly striving for a standard that is unattainable, but you wear yourself out trying anyway. One of the messages that can play over and over in our minds is that we have to be perfect.
We often fall into the trap of feeling responsible not just for ourselves, but the lives of others, whether our co-workers, friends, children, or spouses. We take on the weight of everyone’s world! And who can live like that? Sometimes we feel so inferior or trapped inside our own limitations!
Actress Helen Hayes was told early in her career that if she were four inches taller she’d be the greatest actress of her time. Her coaches tried various methods of stretching her, but nothing increased her height. She refused to concentrate on the supposed limitation of being five-feet-tall and decided to concentrate on her potential. As a result, she was eventually cast as Mary, Queen of Scotland—one of the tallest queens who ever lived.
Joyce Meyer is fond of saying, “When you learn to succeed at being yourself, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying life more fully.”
As Thomas Merton reminds us, “There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him.” That could well be the most important truth you will hear today.
Let me repeat what Thomas Merton wrote: I feel nothing is more important, for if we find our true self we find God, and if we find God, we find our most authentic self. That’s what Merton is saying. God created you in uniqueness and seeks to restore you to that uniqueness in Jesus Christ. Finding and living out your true self is fulfilling your destiny.