I see the struggle of confidence in young girls firsthand, especially with my freshman students. They struggle with friends, body image, boys, grades, and so much more. I see them measure themselves based on these standards. We have to take a different approach to battling their lack of confidence than just telling them that these standards do not define who they are.
At the school where I teach, we ask the students taking Freshman Theology to write their own gospel. This exercise asks them to practice many skills, but I believe the most important aspect they learn while writing their gospel is to develop a true relationship with Jesus. Whether they have known Jesus or not, the experience of writing their own creative, fictional story of an encounter with Christ puts them face to face with their Savior.
Before they begin writing their story, they must choose an image of Jesus. This image of Jesus must relate to them or their life in some way. For example, if the student is lacking confidence then their image of Jesus could be “Jesus the Way,” or if they are struggling with forgiveness “Jesus’ Divine Mercy.” With these images of Jesus, the students are able to paint a picture of Jesus in their gospel and in their life. Their relationship to Jesus can then become focused on comfort, guidance, freedom, love, or all of the above.
I believe that the practice of this project and experience is simple; we are asking our students to imagine themselves in a story with Jesus. To imagine Jesus speaking to them, walking with them, preaching, and performing miracles in front of them. To see Him through their own eyes loving them freely. As they start writing Jesus into a story, it can open their eyes to start realizing that Jesus is in fact there in their normal life. As they begin to see Him journeying with them in their everyday lives perhaps they can begin to see themselves the way Jesus sees them and measure themselves by His standards. Through the light of Christ they can come to grow in confidence of who He created them to be rather than constantly trying to measure up to the world’s standards.
This may just be one step, one suggestion, in the whole process for young women to learn self-confidence, but I believe it is an important step. A personal relationship with Jesus and knowing that He cares about them and the details of their lives can make a big difference.
I know as well as anyone that the struggle with confidence and belief in oneself is a long battle but I do see a piece of the transformation in the freshman girls when they turn to prayer and write their gospel. They begin to actualize their experience with Jesus and see that Jesus loves them, Jesus speaks to them, Jesus blesses them, and Jesus tells them they are beautiful, enough, and made with a purpose. Doing this sort of exercise is a good start for young women at this age when many things are uncertain. It allows them to learn to ground themselves in the certainty of their identity and image in Christ above everything else.
I encourage you to sit down with your daughter and encourage her to do this exercise and just see how Jesus can transform her heart and bring her more confidence.