How much do you depend on how you look to give you confidence?
I’m not necessarily talking about physical attractiveness, I mean the whole image: clothes, shoes, makeup jewelry, how you fix your hair, how “put together” you look and feel. Many women slip into those things like armor every day, checking the mirror to make sure they are ready for battle.
We might scoff at superstitious baseball players who wear the same socks for every game, and I laugh when I think back to my high school basketball days and the “lucky underwear” I threw on for big games. But how different is it when I slip on my “power shoes” before a big meeting?
Don’t get me wrong, we all have to wear something to work, and to present ourselves professionally there, and we all enjoy some clothes more than others. There’s nothing wrong with wearing things you like, the question is, how much value are you placing in those things? How much identity are you drawing from them?
What if all of those things suddenly went away?
For one executive at Facebook, that’s exactly what happened. About three months into her pregnancy, Fidji Simo was forced to go on full bed rest. She kept working, but found herself reluctant to video-conference with her team because her lack of “armor” made her feel weak and vulnerable. She wrote about the experience in a powerful essay entitled, “What a Leader Looks Like.”
Simo wrote that she was surprised to find that what she perceived as her weakness actually seemed to make her team stronger. Employees seemed to resonate with her more. They were more at ease and more trusting. They didn’t see her as weak when she joined a meeting in a tee shirt from her couch. Instead, they respected her resilience and commitment.
Sometimes what we think of as “armor” is really just masking our strength.
Nice clothes are fine. It’s not wrong to consider your appearance and try to present yourself professionally. In fact, making a good first impression can help you to make the most of your God given gifts. But the clothes and the other things that make up your physical image can only provide a false source of confidence. Clothes can’t make you strong. High heels can’t give you power. Your makeup won’t command respect. And the more you focus on those things, the more power you give them in your life, the worse off you’ll be. There will always be someone with better clothes, fancier shoes, or a more “polished” image to compare yourself to, and the more concerned you become about your own things, the more insecure—not to mention exhausted—you’ll feel.
God prescribes a different kind of armor for us…one that is eternal and life-giving. We are to clothe ourselves in truth, righteousness, readiness, peace, faith, salvation, and in the word of God (Ephesians 6:13-17). The God of the universe formed you and knows you (Psalm 139:13-16). He endowed you with certain gifts and strengths, and He did so with a purpose: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
So when you get dressed tomorrow morning, take a minute to thank the Lord for His work in you, then step out in the full confidence of His grace.