I wrote a post a couple of years back entitled “Where Does Confidence Come From?” I used M&M cookies to answer this question. Each M&M represented one key to confidence. And the first M&M, the orange M&M, stood for obedience. Here is a story that further illustrates my point:
I got pulled over last week.
I had just picked up Elle from dance and we were driving home. I looked in my rear view mirror at one point and saw flashing lights.
In a millisecond I quickly reviewed my driving actions. What did I do wrong? I wasn’t speeding. My seatbelt was on and so was Elle’s. She was legal to be in the front seat. My registration was current. I had my driver’s license, registration, and insurance with me.
I didn’t know why I was getting pulled over, but I didn’t panic. I didn’t swear. I didn’t worry. My heart wasn’t racing, and I wasn’t scrambling. I just pulled over and waited calmly, curiously, and confidently for the news.
There have been times when the opposite has happened. I have passed a police officer and gone into panic mode because either I knew I was speeding; some child was improperly restrained (Get down! Get down!); I didn’t have my purse with me; my registration was past due, or I was unbuckled because I was just heading down the street.
But this time, as the officer approached the passenger window, there was no stress, no worry. He informed me that I had not signaled properly when I switched lanes. He noted that I did turn my blinker on, just not on early enough. He was right. It was a half-hearted attempt to let the empty street know I was scooting over. He gave me a warning and encouraged me to signal better. No ticket was issued.
The police officer returned to his car, I turned on my blinker, waited 5 seconds, and then pulled into traffic.
On the way home, I was able to talk to Elle about the direct correlation between obedience and confidence. Getting pulled over by the police was not a scary or uncomfortable situation because I knew that I had been (mostly) obedient to the laws. I was confident in my actions.
I spontaneously bore testimony to my daughter that if one wants to feel confident, one must be obedient — obedient to the laws of the land and to the laws of God.
Just like obeying the laws of the land can bring confidence with police officers, obedience to God’s laws can bring personal confidence in trials. If you pay your tithing faithfully, a job lay-off is a little less scary; if you work hard regularly, an impromptu visit from the boss isn’t as stressful; if you are honest and trustworthy, you don’t have to worry about getting caught cheating. I remember when a rumor started about me and I could hold my head high because I knew it wasn’t true. I didn’t have secrets. I wasn’t hiding anything. I knew I had been obedient.
I’m not saying that obedience absolves you from all trial or pain. I’m not saying that bad things won’t happen to obedient people. And I’m not saying that obedience makes life easy. But I am saying that obedience makes life a little easier. I think obedience does lessen and perhaps even shorten the painful experiences. I think obedience combats guilt and regret and begets confidence and faith.
Now in my case above I was not perfectly obedient. The officer was right. I could be more diligent in my signaling. I’d taken that route so many times to dance I had gotten lazy.
But I think my situation still illustrates the bigger picture. You don’t have to be perfectly obedient to have confidence. We all make mistakes every day, but an overall habit and pattern and effort of obedience will still bring us blessings and confidence.
Obedience is the first M&M of confidence. I think I just figured out my Family Home Evening for tonight.