Friday, January 11, 2008

Confidence in Confidence Alone?

Yes, I am unashamed of my love for Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1960's classic musical, The Sound of Music. On so many occassions, the spirited, brave and trusting Maria von Trapp perfectly portrays the full spectrum of life and emotion that I find within my own heart.

In the glorious seasons of life where nothing at all is misplaced from a perfect dream, I have sung with Maria in the splendor and glory of the expansive outdoors, "The hills are alive with the sound of music." In moments where I need to find cheer, I have personalized the verses to "Raindrops on roses." I have laughed with my sisters when a quirk of our personality surfaces and started to sing, "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" Oh, and how many times I have been at the very start of a long road and found the little snippet of strength in remembering "Let's start at the very beginning - a very good place to start." And then there are the sweet memories of bedtime when I was young - Dad always sat on my bedside, stroked my hair and sang, "Edelweiss" and to this day my heart melts with Maria's when the Captain begins strumming the guitar and so tenderly sings those last stanzas, "Blossoms of snow may you bloom and grow forever."

Today, as I was conscious of feeling unusually timid, I found myself identifying again with Maria... this time I marched with her, guitar in hand, to Captain von Trapp's estate as she searched for confidence, in her case to leave the abbey and become a governess for seven children.

I take confidence for granted most days, but recently some small things, inconsequential things, have burst my misplaced bubble of confidence into a little puddle of nothingness and left me feeling, well, like, "What is the matter with me? I've always longed for adventure to do the things I've never dared. And here I'm facing adventure - then why am I so scared?"

But, alas, I cannot so heartily finish Maria's song, "I have confidence in confidence alone, besides which you see I have confidence in me!" No, the last few days have shown me that "confidence in me" is not such a trustworthy friend. What a costumed friend confidence is! Quickly he parades into my life as pride in sheep's clothing only to readily leap upon me as a wolf to make me feel sheepish!

But how thankful I am to find, tucked away in the letter to the Hebrews, the encouraging admonition, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."

That is better - confidence not in my own infallibility, not in my poise and suave appearance before others - but confidence that God will grant me perseverance to do His will.

Oh, why couldn't Rodgers and Hammerstein have fit that idea into Maria's song?

Addendum (1/12/08): My dear friend Kristiane called to remind me that, indeed, The Sound of Music did overwhelmingly show Maria's confidence to be in God's will as is well illustrated by her conversation with the Mother Abbess after returning in despair to the abbey and her tremendous faith is ultimately shown by marrying the Captain and leaving Austria to escape capture by the Nazis. So, I guess Rodgers and Hammerstein are fully redeemed!

And I will use this addendum to make a random recommendation - the book about the real von Trapp family, written by Maria (not Julie Andrews!), is an incredible story of faith in the face of every evil. I highly recommend The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. - Sarah Angell