Galatians 5:22-23 says:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
In July of 2015, I was one of many fortunate people in the audience listening to Bonnie St. John, our Keynote Speaker share her exciting life. Bonnie St. John is the first African-American to win medals in Winter Paralympic competition as a ski racer. Her story was powerful and I felt a connection to it as we had some similar family dynamics growing up.
I had purchased her book “Live Your Joy”, had it signed by Bonnie and then placed it on my nightstand. The thing about my relationship with books is that I have to put them on a schedule. That is just how many books I have in my home. I try to read no more than two a month. So I would longingly look at Bonnie beautifully smiling at me from the cover of her publication, knowing I would get to it…soon.
And here I am! Loving every word of it. I have just finished the chapter “Confidence…Joy’s Main Muscle”, and I remember Bonnie sharing this story at the conference. It is so brilliant, I just have to share!
The story begins with basically nothing going as planned for Bonnie. Though her hair was in curlers and she was in her gym clothes, she was bound and determined to keep the promise she had made to her young daughter to visit the aquarium.
The excerpts below continue with the story though I am skipping a few paragraphs to include just these few gems:
“There I was, strolling into the aquarium with curlers in my hair, a bright blue mechanical leg, and a two-year-old in tow. Bless her heart, Darcy didn’t think for a moment there was anything odd about the image her good ol’ mom was presenting. There were others, though, not quite so oblivious. I was awash in a sea of eye-rolling glances, sotto voce mutterings, and even some rude pointing and laughing from the younger less-inhibited patrons.
Years of experience in being stared at in this way kicked in for me. I met their gazes… and simply smiled. It takes a special kind of backbone to do that – to have everyone look at you as though you are strange or crazy (or both!) and to look back with complete confidence….
How is it that it can feel so good to do something so difficult?It was actually exhilarating for me to test myself in this way. I wouldn’t want to do it every day, but I realized that it felt like I was exercising a muscle – a confidence muscle. It was a familiar feeling because I had to do it as a child…
To me, utilizing the confidence muscle is crucial for living joy from the inside out.”
WOW! I want that! Don’t you want that? How many times have I gone to the grocery store with my head down because I looked like “a scrub”? I cannot count the number on my two hands.
It is one thing to express confidence when we are all put together in our best get-up. But to do this when we are feeling not so glamorous, as a matter of fact, maybe in sweats and a stained t-shirt! I had never imagined this.
Mind you, I come from a strong line of vain people. We were not seen outside the home without makeup and hair fully intact. In this reading, Bonnie not only tells us we don’t have to, but she challenges us to exercise our confidence muscle when we are out knowing we don’t look our best. Then to look people in the eye and smile.
What I hadn’t realized these past few months, is I have been exercising and utilizing my confidence muscle. Somehow, this lesson she shared with us back in July stuck with me. When the hubby and I went on vacation, we chose to camp on the beach. Even when we left camp and went site-seeing, I wore no makeup and my hair in a bandana. I packed very little clothes to wear and none of them were fancy!
Of course, this would be the vacation that we would bump into Daniel Baldwin, who also has a gorgeous smile of his own! Did I worry about how I looked? No, I just looked Daniel straight in the eye and flashed a smile right back at him as he walked on by, trying to keep up with his pretty little daughters!
Picking up this book has been worth the wait. I wish to Live My Joy and I wish the same for all of you. Stay Blissful My Friends – E