3 Truths I Need When I Doubt Myself

I’m overwhelmed. I don’t have this. I’m not smart enough. I’m not strong enough. I’m just not enough. These are some of the thoughts that swirl sometimes as I’m trying to tackle the different parts of my life. I’m striving, striving, striving. But there aren’t enough hours in the day. I don’t have enough emotional energy to tackle all of it. I’m just not enough.

I hustle, hustle, hustle. Busting out the to-do list. Following my routine. Pushing myself so hard that I’m so exhausted I feel like a marionette just going through the motions. But it’s just not enough. I’m just not enough.

I’m doubting myself all the time and find my doubt to be justified. I don’t have an endless supply of emotional energy and grace, so I shout at my kids and my tongue lacks grace. I don’t have an endless supply of physical strength and energy, so my housework lags. My brain is so overworked trying to put out fires that I suddenly find myself mentally frozen like my brain is trying to tread concrete.

Sarah Clews Doubt

Not only that, but we’ve got well-meaning but not scripturally based books coming out called Girl, Wash Your Face that basically says, “You’re doubting yourself? Wash your face, suck it up, and try harder! You need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” You know what’s wrong with your life? You are just not trying hard enough!

I love what Gracelaced wrote on Instagram, “Steady heartbeat on repeat for some time now: We are not the heroes of our own stories. It’s en vogue to believe we steer our own course and drive the train in our own lives—that we are the sum of our unrelenting efforts…Friend, if your tank is empty, your road unclear, your drive lacking direction tonight, look beyond yourself. Look to Him. Jesus takes us where we could never go on our own.”

I’ve heard this saying falsely attributed to the Bible, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Oh, He absolutely will. And this is completely intentional. I’m doubting my ability to handle it all? Well God has certainly never depended on my ability to handle it all. There’s hope in my doubt…the hope that God never expected me to be able to “do it all.”

1. Cease Striving

“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NASB)

Our culture exalts “the hustle” and “the grind.” Seeking to live our lives without the power of God will always be a futile and exhausting exercise.

2. God is Enough

“My flesh and my heart will fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NASB)

We are not enough, but He is. Where I doubt myself and fail daily, God never fails. His love never fails. His mercies never fail.

3. Lean into God

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.
 This will bring health to your body
    and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8

Doubt Sarah Clews.png

Leaning on my own understanding is so disappointing and exhausting. It doesn’t mean I should stop making an effort, but depending solely on myself will always end in failure. In our modern culture, we suffer more than ever from anxiety and panic disorders. We’ve brought sickness to our bodies trying to do it all.

We must rest. Let us rest in the confidence that we have been rescued. As Jennie Allen says in Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard, “Our confidence comes from believing God can do anything, then stepping back and letting Him.”

I need Jesus to be the hero of my story. How about you?


Sarah Clews HeadshotSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown-ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.
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When Conviction Leads to the Less Traveled Path

Do you ever find your convictions leading you upstream, taking you outside the norm, even in the context of Christian community? I often find myself wanting validation from others around me about my convictions. While encouragement and community with like-minded people are invaluable, it is not what is of most importance.

Being around so many different people with diverse perspectives and good ways of living out their faith has brought this to the forefront of my mind recently. This summer has been full of family gatherings, old friends, and new friends. One thing that’s stood out to me is the common thread of a deep love for Jesus lived out through a wide variety of personal convictions and styles of worship. In the last few weeks, I’ve encountered small home churches, liturgical services, and large auditoriums. Teachers, parents, nurses, pastors, and accountants devoted to loving their families and communities, at home or across the world.

Rachel Olson conviction

I find freedom here, to seek wisdom that’s appropriate and good but not depend on others’ approval. It’s liberating to know my peace does not hinge on other people seeing the same conviction I see and approving of it. I am learning to confidently take hold of what God’s putting in front of me and not feel like I need to make excuses for it. I don’t need to dwell on if people disagree, or wonder how they’ll feel about it if God’s word says it is true. If others think my convictions are foolish, it no longer hinders me from taking hold of and finding joy in believing God alone. I can follow him and just run my race confidently.

Conviction is a gift that when we follow, enables us to be closer to Jesus. That’s a deep part of the purpose of conviction—to bring us closer to Jesus.

So follow your own convictions, not what people say around you, based on what God says in the Bible. Do that with freedom and joy. See it as a gift.

Because of my convictions and where they have led me these past several years, I’ve at times had some abrupt shock. Moments of questioning and comparing my status to the status quo loom large in my weaker moments. I am still single, without a home, a stable career, or really any roots that look to be building up what we generally associate with adulthood. While many of my friends have homes and families and long-term stable-seeming jobs, here I am being me and wondering if it is enough. At times the truth that God has a purpose for me here and now can be difficult to see. I would love to have my own family, and a life that feels more stable. Sometimes it’s easy to compare my life to others’ and feel like I’m missing out on these things. Or even worse, to wish that I had something to prove my worth to onlookers who probably aren’t even questioning it.

Am I less capable? As a competitive person, it can be difficult to feel like all my friends have the things we normally associate with adulthood and I don’t. I’m an adult, but what represents that?

As I question and process through these emotions again, I remember the decisions that brought me here were made out of strong convictions and a desire to follow God’s leading. If I had chosen a more normal career path, I know I would have regretted not obeying. I would have missed out on so much good that God has invited me into over the last few years. So even in the lack of adult things, I would rather face discomfort and disappointment about cultural expectations and some of my own dreams, than be without the peace of following God’s guidance. He knows better than I do, and I can trust him. It’s better for everyone, for me to follow that, and I won’t be satisfied with other things if I am outside of it. So I choose again that it was is worth it, and keep trusting and following Jesus’s ways. Even when his ways look weird or counter-cultural. If it’s conviction from God it’s worth it, good for the soul, the heart, and the world.

Conviction Rachel Olson

Conviction is a gift that enables, empowers, and equips us to align ourselves with God’s heart.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look for his wonderful face.

The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of Jesus’s glory and grace—this is the heart of conviction.


Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.

Free to Live at Peace

We live in a world of outrage. War, death, and injustice are happening all around us, in large and seemingly small scales. At any given moment we can read something on Facebook that offends our views, opinions, and even our own selves.

freedom Britney Bradley (1)Is there a different way to live, or must we always be upset at someone or about something? Must we live in a way that feels we are constantly attacked or disrespected? I hope not. There is a way of peace that is not common in the world around us. I believe, in fact, there is a way to live with the awareness of ultimate, everlasting, and eternal peace in our hearts day in and day out. In Jesus’ last days he was able to comfort his friends with this truth found in John 14:27:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

What a beautiful comfort to the ones who were about to see humanity perfected, Jesus, crucified, and for themselves as some of them would face martyrdom for their own faith.

Attaining this ultimate peace may not be exactly what we dream it to be. This peace that Jesus himself offers us is a hope that sees us through to the end. It does not mean happiness at every corner. It does not mean we will never see true trial and suffering in this life. What the peace of Jesus has to offer us the reassurance that we can go through anything life might throw at us, and be rest assured that our eternity is held in his grip. It means that when we are truly attacked or suffering, we can remember that this life lasts a moment, but our eternity with Him is secure and nothing can strip that away from us.

We can choose to live in certain turmoil, taking on pain that was never ours to bear. We can choose to feel hurt when our cause and views are attacked viciously over the internet. We can choose to respond with outrage towards those who hurt us, letting them have a piece of our minds. Or we could choose to put on the peace that has been given through Jesus on the cross. We CAN choose to not respond out of hurt, but to hold our tongues, knowing that justice isn’t ours alone to be had. In choosing to live at peace in this world we have freedom from so much unnecessarily quarreling and painful relationships.

Britney Bradley FreedomJames tells us:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. ~James 1:19-21

Will you join with me in prayer that God would give us his peace, that we would be freed from outrage, and that we would be those who extend His peace into the world around us?

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

 


britney-squareBritney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 3 girls (so far) Ruby, Cora, and Lily, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.

That Which Cannot Be Earned

Years ago, I sat across from my counselor to hear her say, “Nothing you do can make God love you more or make God love you less.” My thinking was forever changed.

Freedom Sarah ClewsTo some, this might sound like a no brainer. But even though I was raised as an evangelical Christian, it was news to me. I knew my good deeds wouldn’t save me. Yet this felt like a new and remarkable truth because I did think my deeds could change God’s love. I found myself laboring under this idea that God was perpetually disappointed in me, that my sins and failures were making Him love me less. I lived my life in a cycle of shame and striving.

I had been so burdened by a yoke of slavery where I was constantly living in self-reproach, agonizing over my ungracious response to a family member the previous week or my unkind action to a friend a month ago. I was desperate for spiritual and emotional freedom. Jesus offers just that, freedom that says, “Not only do I forgive you, but I also free you from your shame.”

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

God is so clear in the Bible that He has FREED us from our striving. Living by a religion of works is so exhausting because it’s clearly never enough and obviously imperfect.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 

Sarah Clews freedomWhat freedom this scripture brings! I was recently thinking back to the story of when Adam and Eve first sinned. For the longest time, I thought they were ashamed for God to see them because they were naked. But they weren’t naked! They had tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. They tried to remove their own shame by their own efforts, by their own works. Yet it wasn’t enough. They couldn’t truly be covered until God covered them by His work.

It was God’s work that freed them from their shame, not their works.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Because I know my own weakness and inability to follow every rule, what a relief it has been to know that God’s love doesn’t depend on me at all! It is a gift that sets those held captive free. There’s no better hope than that.


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews is a wife, mother of two little girls, and prolific reader. She received her BS from Corban University in English and still loves writing. She helps her husband run their martial arts school, and in her free time, enjoys sewing, experimenting with makeup, and reading blogs.

True Freedom

Current Location: Sunny San Diego. More specifically at my hotel’s outside oasis, surrounded by palm trees, orange umbrellas, pool lounger chairs. As I await my afternoon flight, I am naturally drawn to people watching. All sorts of folks have flocked to the pool area, splashing in the water, sipping their icy beverages in the alfresco restaurant…but all I can really think about is getting home.

Rainy Oregon over the land of perfect weather? Yes, because this is the week of the 4th of July, which is consequently one of my most favorite holidays. (I know you’re thinking, Fourth of July? Really, even more than Christmas? Aside from Thanksgiving—YES!) Why America’s Independence Day: The red-white-and-blue everywhere, people drenched from head to toe in the festive colors, flags proudly waving in the air, parades, barbecues, time spent with friends and family, country music blaring “Let Freedom Ring” and “God Bless the USA.” Some of the festivities may seem cheesy, but I relish and delight in it all. I love celebrating America’s birthday.

Freedom Sarah DohmanThe 4th of July makes me remember America’s freedom song, and I am compelled to think about my true freedom. The freedom found when all else is put aside and one truly knows and loves Jesus. Freedom through Christ is shared throughout all of Scripture. Christ came to set us free from everything that binds us up and keeps us apart from God. We sing a song at church titled “Death Was Arrested.” The lyrics in this song stir my love for my savior and proclaim how Christ brings us true freedom.

“Oh your grace so free
Washes over me
You have made me new
Now life begins with you
It’s your endless love
Pouring down on us
You have made us new
Now life begins with you”

This freedom, true freedom, not only sets us free from death and sin, but should drive us as Christ followers to love our neighbor. Galatians 5:13-14 shares, “For you were called to Sarah D Freedom (1)freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” We are called to freedom in Christ, and then, as captives set free, are asked to love others. This doesn’t mean just those easy to love, or those who are similar to us in race, ethnicity, education, etc. It means EVERYONE. Freedom in Christ ups our love game—it gives us the confidence and ability to love the people around us who challenge us, who believe differently from us, who may even dislike us.

On the Fourth, as I’m clad head to toe in red-white-and-blue, I cheer for independence. I’ll be celebrating America’s independence with gumption and gusto, but at a deeper level reflecting upon my true freedom—grace given freely through Christ alone. I will look around at my neighbors with love, and think of ways to bring joy into their day. I will look at my own freed life and reflect on the love and freedom God has lavished on me.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.

 

A Freedom Song

Rebekah Lyons’s book, “You Are Free”, came into my life at exactly the right moment. I call these moments God-ordained, meaning it is only by His divine purpose and intention that this particular event happened at that specific of a time in my life. Much like God would be whispering, “Sarah, ya need to read this. It will awaken some good thoughts within your soul and cause an overflowing song in your heart. Read this now, as it will empower you to draw those around you to Me.”

One of the first excerpts from the book that intrigued me resided on the dust jacket.

“Freedom is for everyone who wants it–the lost, the wounded, and those weary from striving. It’s for those who gave up trying years ago. You are the church, the people of God. You were meant to be free.”

heavenEnticing, yes? As this was only the cover, I wondered what else would I glean from these pages? Rebekah breaks down the book, chapter-by-chapter, and weaves her freedom story beginning in New York, and ending in Franklin, Tennessee. She spans topics such as what it means to have complete freedom in Christ, to what freedom looks like within the context of a believer’s faith. What does freedom look like when I am grieving, when I am waiting, when I am celebrating, when I am resting?

Each chapter unwinds a little more of a freedom song, and one particular passage that echoed truth was titled, Free to Ask (pg. 94-95).

“Maybe you’ve asked God for something, but only heard silence for many years, and it feels like your mustard seed of faith isn’t growing. Maybe you’ve felt faithless and condemned. Or perhaps you’ve felt as if God isn’t interested in what is happening with you. Maybe your heart feels abandoned, rejected.

I don’t know why God answers some prayers immediately and not others. It’s a mystery. What I do know with full assurance is this: God has given us the freedom to ask him for anything–anything. Perhaps in God’s economy what’s most important is that we have the freedom and faith to ask.

What if we lay aside our concern about the results of our prayers?

What if we simply confess and declare what we have been given–the freedom to ask?

What if we begin to confess our needs to God, to ask again, with our whole hearts, for whatever we need?

How many of us are slow to ask, whether out of doubt or fear or even pride?

Asking requires much.

For starters, asking often requires an admission and confession of need, an acknowledgment that all is not well. Asking also requires us to do something, to participate in whatever God wants to do. Finally, asking requires us to entrust what is beyond our control to the One who controls all.”

confessionThis chapter reiterated what I’ve been learning about God, specifically His desire for relationship with us. We are not only allowed to enter into His courts with praise, but also with fear, doubt, the unknowns in life. He longs to hear the desires of our hearts and does not shy away from the ugly, wavering in faith, lonesome, desperate, or aching prayers, but He commands us to come to Him. 1 John 5:14 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” As Rebekah reminds us, we can have blessed assurance that our prayers are never in vain.

“You Are Free” is a book that weaves together our freedom story with Christ’s gift of freedom. We are free to live without reservation, with conviction, and with the knowledge that we can be who God created us to be ultimately because of who God is: the giver of every perfect gift, including His son.


Readers, What are you reading right now? What should we add to our summer reading list?

sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.