I used to work in the design district as a product photographer. This meant I was in charge of multiple projects for important magazines, which often required a great deal of creativity on my part. As if that weren’t stressful enough, all of my ideas had to go through my boss first. About 99.5% of those ideas were shot down, fast. Often times in a very public, humiliating way. My pride was completely shot and, after about the hundredth time of being told that I “just wasn’t cutting it,” my confidence dwindled until all self-worth and value had vanished, along with my ideas.
The first question people ask when they meet you is, “So, what do you do?” I could then say with pride, “Well, I am a product photographer. I contact magazine publishers to market our thousand-dollar pieces, and sell them to designers.” Sometimes, I even tried to make it sound fancier than that. Why did I do that? Looking back now, I know it’s because I felt as though I had something to prove — that my identity was wrapped up in this exciting new job title. So when my boss would say horrible things about my ideas, I felt like she was essentially telling me that I wasn’t worth anything. I needed her to be for me.
I am ashamed that I needed that kind of approval from her. What does that say about my trust and belief in an all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present, ever-faithful God?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
— Romans 8:31
Truth is, I was overwhelmed with the workload, but didn’t want to admit that I felt like I was failing. Who wants to admit that? I felt like I needed to do this on my own. It was my battle, my job, my pride, my self-worth and my identity that was being put to the test. Sadly, I failed. Not because the job was too much, but because I was like Elisha’s servant in 2 Kings 6. Like him, I chose to see all of the hardships that were up against me from what seemed like every angle. I screamed out, “What should I do?!” All along God was telling me, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them,” (2 Kings 6:16). God was on my side the whole time. I was too focused on the tasks of the job to see it, and I let the stress consume me, convinced that my boss would never approve. But God did. He was for me all along.
If I had acknowledged that truth during that time, my circumstances would not have changed. My boss still would have been hard on me, and the projects would have still demanded my attention. But you know what would have changed? My perspective. Elisha prayed a simple prayer for his servant: “Lord, open his eyes,” (2 Kings 6:17). When the servant’s eyes were opened, his problems didn’t suddenly vanish, but he had been blessed with a peace that surpasses understanding because he understood that God was bigger than his problems. God was for him. It became less about him and more about God’s faithfulness.
I believe it does God a disservice when we worry about what others think about us. As Christians, we should be the most confident people around. This confidence can be found when you believe that God is for you. Despite the hardships at work, in your marriage, or in life in general, God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9). Let that be where your confidence comes from.