Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

4.13.2012

Don't Dare Believe in Yourself

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How many of you have seen this movie? A beautiful girl or a handsome boy has an impossible dream.  Yet a great tragedy interrupts, a debilitating injury threatens, bullies block the way, or some other plot device interferes.  Everything looks bleak, and then a beloved mentor swoops in: “Follow your dreams,” the mentor advocates.  “Believe in yourself.”  From there, of course, the movie climbs up to its tear-jerker ending with all dreams fulfilled.  I’ve seen this storyline countless times, dressed up in various ways, but with the same message.  You would think that if it was asking too much for the screenwriters to offer a correct message they could at least strive to be creative! 

G.K. Chesterton had this wisdom to offer of America’s favorite motto:

“Once I remember walking with a prosperous publisher who…said of somebody, ‘That man will get on; he believes in himself.’

…I said to him, ‘Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves?  For I can tell you.  I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar.  I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success.  I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.’ 

He said mildly that there were a good many men after all who believed in themselves and who were not in lunatic asylums.

‘Yes, there are,’ I retorted, ‘and you of all men ought to know them. That drunken poet from whom you would not take a dreary tragedy, he believed in himself.  That elderly minister with an epic from whom you were hiding in a back room, he believed in himself.

'If you consulted your business experience instead of your ugly individualistic philosophy, you would know that believing in himself is one of the commonest signs of a rotter.  Actors who can't act believe in themselves; and debtors who won't pay.  It would be much truer to say that a man will certainly fail, because he believes in himself.  Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness.  Believing utterly in one's self is a hysterical and superstitious belief...the man who has it has ‘Hanwell’ [a lunatic asylum] written on his face.’1


You truly cannot afford to believe in yourself.  For in such self-reliance you open yourself up to all the strength and possibility you can muster, but that is no more strength than an hours-old baby!  Yes, the baby can cry out that he is self-reliant, but in the end it is the mother who answers the cry with satisfying, life-giving food. 

Likewise, for all our boasted-about self-belief, it is God who upholds our every breath!  We say follow your heart, yet the only reason that heart is still pumping is because of God’s great mercy.  Following a deceitfully wicked organ will only lead to despair. 

We say follow your dreams, yet it would be better to follow the One who gave us those dreams in the first place. 

We say believe in yourself, because in a world that says we were an accident with great-grandparents in the monkey family, we want desperately to think we are worth believing in.  John 1:12 and 13 tells us that our worth lies in our special position as precious children of God:

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”


Do these niceties bother you as much as they do me?  Don’t be pulled into the whirlpool by a stirring soundtrack and beautiful speeches.  Don’t you dare believe in yourself: you just might find yourself in a lunatic asylum one day.  Instead, believe in Christ who offers so much more possibility than our own brains could ever imagine:

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’”  (Mark 9:23-24)



1. Chesterton, G.K. Orthodoxy.  Project Gutenberg, May 1994.  Page 5. 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

9 comments:

  1. EXACTLY. This is so pervasive in our culture--people are told to "believe in themselves" and just "find the strength within" but guess what? then we find that there ISN'T strength within, which then starts the whole destructive self-image thing, which people try to repair with "you're perfect just the way you are!" which is another huge issue. we need to hear "you're weak, you're sinful, and in need of a Savior."

    Thank you for this post--so spot-on.

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  2. hi Lauren, you are invited to follow my blog

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  3. Great post, Lauren. It is amazing how much the message of "believe in yourself" is in SO many movies - it must be THE most common theme. I usually cringe when I hear a form of it since it is indeed so false. Why should the creature look to and trust in the creature, and not in the Almighty Creator?

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  4. Wow. Thank you so much, Lauren. You'll never know what a blessing this was to me.

    God bless you!!

    ~ Savannah

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  5. Polka Dot--You are so right about the downward spiral of believing in yourself being related to self-image and a host of other problems! It also all relates to humanism! I loved your comment--thanks so much!
    Steve--Thanks! (-;
    Ruthie--I am in complete agreement as to how common that theme is--it really shocks me! Even after I wrote this post, I read a blog post by someone else that ended, "Believe in yourself!" Thanks for always pointing people to God!
    Savannah--That is such an encouragement to me to know that it blessed you! Your sweet and faithful comments and posts never fail to bless me as well!

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  6. Lauren! I love this post. I am not familiar with GK Chesterton. Every time I hear someone share something that he wrote, I think that I definitely should invest the time in getting to the point where I am. This piece that you shared is no different! How perfectly his words address one of the most common slogans of our day.

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  7. Amen Lauren..I love quotes by GK Chesterton and I have never read him either but I know C.S. Lewis did and he was very ministered to by him and he, C.S. Lewis, is a fabulous writer.How very valuable to be reminded of our God given calling of being a child of God. It takes faith to believe either creation or something else but I am thankful that our Creator even chose to give us the faith of the Son of God and that is a lovely restful place to stay. Those of us who read your blog are glad to be reminded by your quality writing abilities and the interesting,creative, enjoyable, challenging ways you are able to provoke us to good works and to invite us all to keep looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. from Havilah's mom

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  8. Victoria--You should definitely read Chesterton! I've only read a few of his works, but they are all worth reading! I'm in the middle of Orthodoxy, and so far I would highly recommend it!
    Havilah's mom--I am not at all surprised that C.S. Lewis was ministered to by Chesterton's writing! That is fascinating to learn! Thank you so much for your sweet words of encouragement--they inspire and lift me up! God bless!

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  9. Lauren...This post is something I was looking for sometime. Believe in Jesus and see the wonders in our life. My power is nothing before God. Thanks a lot. May you always with Jesus

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