I actually wanted to write about the subtlety of doubt. But once I started two things happened which brought different facets of doubt front and center. The interesting thing was that though my doubts were the same or similar for both events they played out very differently due to stress factors. The first thing that happened was I had a dream about losing my job. Now, I don’t get excited about all dreams, but some dreams are from God and that needs to be taken into account. The second thing that happened, and I don’t remember the context surrounding it, but God told me to start a magazine. Those are the events, now let’s look at them more closely.
Doubt does not believe. So anytime we doubt we can do something we don’t believe we can do that thing. Or when we doubt something is going to happen we don’t believe it will happen. Before we will act we must either be forced into it, regardless of what we believe, or we need to overcome our doubts, so we will believe. In the dream event there was doubt whether the dream was from God. There are two ways to tell if a dream is from God: either it comes true or God sends a same or similar dream twice (think Joseph). I didn’t receive the second and I didn’t think waiting for the first to occur was prudent, so there was no method for clearing up that doubt prior to acting. In this case I was being forced to act.
To top everything off I have a huge fear of interviews. This fear was tempting me to doubt it was from God. If I didn’t believe then I wouldn’t have to go job hunting and I could avoid that fear. However, with no certitude that it wasn’t going to happen, the fear of being without a job and losing my home pushed me towards acting, regardless my doubts. In essence, those fears played tug-o-war on my doubts and were affecting my ability to decide what to do.
I was eventually able to overcome this doubt by deciding it was better to play it safe and act like the dream was true. This would force me to look for another job. In addition to all of that, I did have certain limitations which would make it harder for me to find a job. These limitations were causing doubts that were, literally, assailing me. Once again, the predicament being unemployed would cause forced me to come up with a plan to either overcome my limitations (where I could) or to narrow my job search to take them into account. I also prayed a lot.
So two types of doubt: one doubting my source of information was accurate. This caused me to vacilitate for awhile until I finally decided to go with the worst case scenario. That way I would be somewhat prepared. The second type of doubt was simply my insecurities being let loose because of a stressful situation. In essence, I was throwing up tons of roadblocks to prevent me from doing what I needed to do because of my fear of doing it. I was like a deer caught in the headlights. You’re looking at this thing that is about to hit you and it is so frightening that you know you need to move. I don’t know why deer just stand there, but for myself, I was temporarily paralyzed because I was afraid to go bounding off in the direction that I know I needed to go. The paralysis was caused by fear. But I had to move forward as the alternative was too ugly. I had to sit down and face my doubts. The ones that I could fix I made a plan for fixing. For those I couldn’t do anything about I had to adjust my job search accordingly. My fear didn’t go away, but my insecurities no longer assailed me with doubts. I still have this one big cloud of doubt hanging over me that I can’t really identify and my gut still clenches at the thought of interviews, but I did do a cursory look at different jobs that fit my parameters and would put me in a better position than I am now, if I can land them (perhaps, that’s the source of the big cloud of doubt: the unknown).
The instruction from God was both the same and different. The difference was I didn’t doubt it was from God, God actually reinforced this one, and there was no impending doom looming on the horizon. Since there was no impending doom there was no fear to heighten my awareness of my failings and to reinforce my doubts relating to myself. However, once again my doubts in myself did reinforce the doubt in God. Though I didn’t doubt it was from God I did doubt that this was really something He was asking of me. This occurred because, on first glance, I didn’t believe I was suitable for this endeavor. However, these doubts simply became misgivings as I had nothing to lose even though I am less suited for this task than I am for finding another job. In finding another job I could draw on my experiences, which are saleable, while I have no experience of magazine publishing. On the other hand I had to find a job that would support me, so success was a big factor in the first event. In this one while I would like to be successful, and I believe God will help me since He told me to do it, if I fall flat on my face I’ll have very little to lose.
So what’s my take away from these experiences? First, doubts about our abilities increase our doubts in God. This, in turn, can keep us from doing God’s will. I listen to enough religious podcasts and people to know self-doubt is one of things that hold people back. This is sad because there are many instances in the Bible of God providing the needed talents/skills when He asks someone to do something for Him or God may even see something in you which you don’t. Second, there are times when we are only willing to do God’s will when we have nothing to lose or we are forced into it. Again, this is sad. He’s a good God and I should have more faith in Him. And it’s sad because so many of us want a better life, country, etc., but we let our doubts get in the way of following God’s cue. If we could overcome our doubts, just think how the world would change. Three, a little reasoning and planning goes a long way in dealing with those doubts. There may still be fear, but fear seems easier to handle than doubt. Four, if ever anyone is in a panic with a situation, please understand that the stress may be heightening their doubts. If possible, kindly sit down and reason with them in hopes of helping them overcome the doubts that may be assailing them.
May we all overcome our doubts with faith and reason!
Post photo generously supplied by Jan Erik Waider @Unsplash