I’m pretty sure there is something wrong with me. No. Scratch that. I’m absolutely certain there is something wrong with me. Sure we are all imperfect people, unrighteous sinners in fact, but I seem to wrestle with a deeper issue. Doubt.
Sleeping Lady ~ Photo by Pam Spence
I’m at war it seems, with myself. “I am my own worst enemy,” is a phrase that comes to mind. Self-doubt seems to be a constant companion, a loyal friend that trumps all other voices, rejoicing when “I am shaken” (Psalm 13:4). And boy oh boy do I feel shaken, again and again (and not just by aftershocks, though those have subsided lately, praise God). My 20 years of adult life have been filled with cycles of start and stop, excited beginnings and frustrated ends. Most of my endeavors haven’t lasted more than a couple years.
Some of you may know that I sold skin care and cosmetics in college. Did I wear makeup prior to joining the force? Nope. But I felt like I belonged to that amazing group of women, and I felt encouraged and empowered among them. I even felt like I was good at it…you know, the whole eye shadow application stuff. When the business side of things got tough and a few faithful customers fell away, I doubted. I stopped.
Some of you may know that I tutored math for high school students for a while. My kids were little and I had a wonderful support system for my young children while I traveled to each home and helped each child. I didn’t ever make much money, but it felt good to help those kids and it was nice to use that side of my brain after “laying it to rest” as a new stay-at-home mom. I felt like I was making a difference and felt valued. When a couple students continued to fail after hours and hours of effort, I doubted. So, I stopped.
Some of you probably remember my recent history with a fitness and nutrition company. I had purchased a fitness pack, which included workout DVDs and a bag of shake mixture loaded with nutrition. It helped me gain self-confidence and boosted my energy. When people started to ask, “what are you doing differently,” I found that I enjoyed encouraging others to try the same method. Enter coaching. I truly enjoyed it, mostly from the encouragement standpoint, but alas…it wasn’t to last either. Nothing seems to anymore. A health challenge caused me to…you guessed it…doubt my ability to coach anyone. My continuous battle with my over-weighted frame made me doubt I was even worthy to tell anyone about nutrition.
Part of me truly wants to view this motley list of random attempts as seasons. I can’t help but wonder though if I’m finally coming to grips with what I’m truly fighting. Myself. I allow doubt to creep in and start to take hold.
Like a slow leak from a faucet, dripping into my mind one moment at a time, doubt will enter. In those prior experiences, there was usually just a series of shifts. Something happened, or something was said, or something changed within me that made me walk away. Writing it out now makes me pause. It actually sounds like a lack of devotion on my part. A lack of faithfulness to something I once believed in.
When I think of devotion, I picture a couple that has been married for 50 years. I think of the caretaker of a child with special needs. I think of a teacher devoted to her trade and her method so much that she teaches well into her 70s. Through the lens of that mental list, I’m not devoted. Sure I’ve been married to the same man for nearly 18 years, but it seems like any area of my life where I’m given the “freedom” to let go, I have. When the going gets tough, the tough might get going, but I seem to jump ship.
I remember feeling these feelings most strongly back before I had become a mom. I had walked through something confusingly hard, and I doubted myself. I doubted the devotion of some friendships, I doubted that I belonged to a group I had served faithfully for a few years, and I even doubted God’s call in my life. I had felt called to serving in music ministry, but something went terribly wrong in the process. Looking back, I honestly see my lack of devotion as part of the problem. Had I stuck with it, stayed devoted to that group through thick and thin, something beautiful might have grown from it. I’ll never know. I live with much regret surrounding that history, especially now that I see more clearly my issue with devotion.
Shortly after that hard situation, I found myself searching the scriptures. Like gripping for a floatation device, for a rope tied off to something I could climb. Quite a few songs were born out of that season. That’s something to be thankful for I guess. I had the desire to write about what I was feeling. I wrote a lot of prayers to God; prayers about what I was struggling with. I found a gripping point in the Psalms, actually more specifically in the Psalms of lament.
If anyone had reason to feel cast out of a group of friends, it was David. His words from Psalm 13 struck me somewhere deep in my soul. At that time, I didn’t have a clue “who” my “enemy” was; who or what it was that seemed to rule over me. What I clung to though, and have throughout these years, is the phrase I had created as a chorus from that psalm:
“Your love unfailing
~Psalm 13: 5-6 paraphrase
Our salvation, let our hearts rejoice
Sing to the Lord, for He is good”
I clung to the words of Psalm 13, and the simple melody helped weave those words into memory, where I could call them to mind time and time again. And, though I still feel at war with myself, and still feel like I’m struggling to find my place, my people…myself…I cling to hope. God never fails. He was and IS devoted to us, even unto death. He paid the price of our sins, including doubt and unfaithfulness, so that we didn’t have to. If anything is worth signing about, worth staying devoted to, it is that kind of love.
To be fair to myself (and to strive to see outside of my self-doubting attitude), I guess I could say that I am devoted in some areas of my life. My marriage, being a mom to my kids, an involved member of my church family, and a leader of God’s praises and the study of His word make the faithfulness cut. I pray they remain on my faithfulness list until Jesus calls me home.
Maybe God’s grace has brought me through these seasons of devotion (and lack thereof) to teach me the value of faithfulness. May our lives reflect His own unfailing love and devotion, and may we strive to stop the cycle of self-doubt. Rejoice in the hope we have in Christ, in who He is shaping and molding us to be, and just keep singing. Be devoted to the One who is devoted to you, and enjoy the music.
~ Andrea 💙