Don't Let Doubt Win

I drove below the speed limit that night four years ago, mainly because tears blurred my vision, plus I had a lot to say to God before I arrived home in 20 minutes.

It didn't seem fair that God was nudging me--more like shoving, actually--toward this crazy writing for publication thing. I had dropped out of high school in my senior year because I was on my own and had to earn a living. Though I had earned my G.E.D., it felt paltry when everyone at the writers conference I just left held degrees in journalism, literature, English.

While I felt strongly that God wanted me to begin writing and submitting articles to magazine publishers, I felt ill equipped for the task. Tears flowed as God and I hashed it out in the car that night. "How can you expect me to do what they can do, Lord? I don't have their education. It just isn't fair!"

I struggled with doubt because in the natural, I simply didn't have the qualifications those other writers possessed. The degree holders were smart, polished, accomplished. They knew what they were doing. I didn't.

Doubt besieged my mind, and I fell asleep wondering how on earth I could write and get published without the credentials a college education provided.

That night, I dreamt I was running next to an enormous chariot of fire that descended next to me. The heat from the chariot radiated out and energized me, supernaturally enabling me to run with amazing strength. My body felt light and tingled with energy and joy. I ran and ran for miles (and laughed!) and realized that this must have been how Elijah felt when he ran before Ahab's chariot (see 1 Kings 18:46).

When I awoke, I realized that although what God was calling me to do felt distinctly impossible, with His strength, I could accomplish it easily--and with great joy. I simply needed to remain close to the Lord--my source of strength.

This did not mean I didn't have to do my part. I made the commitment to study the craft, join a critique group, attend conferences, and strive toward improvement.

Unfortunately, doubt has continued to make encore appearances, uninvited. It's an ongoing tug-of-war as I struggle to displace doubt and believe God. But I've come to understand, believe, and declare to the Lord "You can do all things, and no thought or purpose of Yours can be restrained or thwarted." (Job 42:2)

I don't know if you play tug-of-war with doubt, but I do know that all of us could use a friend who gets in the dirt with us, grabs hold of the rope and says "We're gonna win this thing!". I'm currently reading Renee Swope's book, A Confident Heart, and trust me, she is the friend you want in your corner when you're battling doubt. Her book is helping me continue to change my thinking and believe God's word like never before.

I'm giving away two signed copies of A Confident Heart! To enter my give-away please leave a comment telling me where doubt hits you hardest. I'll pray for you this week and you'll have the opportunity to win a book that will strengthen your confidence in the Lord. After reading this book, I believe that you will run with fire!


Kelly said...

I wrote about my doubt Friday on my blog. I was actually having chest pains as the "Doubt" whispered, "You have nothing to say, no one wants to hear your message." My doubt doesn't just say my message is nothing, it says I am nothing.

But then my friend Sonya recommended I read Renee's book. I downloaded chapter 1, as well as pulled out the hard card from SS, and felt better. I am planning on ordering Renee's book, if I don't win it here. :-)

I completely relate to your words, Julie, and I am so excited for your successes! You did a great thing, yes with the help of God! He sustained you, but you did the hard work too!

Amy said...

Just like you Julie my doubt comes from my lack of credentials. I am also reminded of where I feel I fall short as I fill out certain paperwork, create a bio and/or update my resume and there isn't anything past high school to add. I don't doubt God has called me to teach his word. I don't even doubt that He can so it through me but me doubt is why would anyone listen to me.

Krista said...

I think I am still too naive to have doubts on the publishing end; also I just don't expect myself to be there yet so I am just working the craft while I wait for something I am fairly confident is just time.

But I have serious doubt about my ability to manage it all--homeschooling, developing spiritual formation classes at church, blogging regularly. Oh and keeping the house clean and having enough for my husband when he comes calling at the end of the day.

Please enter me in your contest. Thank you!


I sometimes doubt that God can really make deep heart changes in my life.

So glad you prevailed in pursuing writing, Julie.


Karen said...

Oh Julie, of course I have doubts. Doubts that I don't deserve any great things from writing. And that's how Satan attacks me from working hard with writing. Rats-I wish he couldn't find our weak spots.

The book sounds great. And yes, you can do anything God leads you to. Have a great week.

Cheryl Barker said...

Julie, I have actually struggled with doubt in the past over my very faith itself (you know, all of this is too good to be true kind of thing...) -- and every now and then Satan tries to snare me again.

Where my writing is concerned, I tend to doubt my ability to carry out what I might be asked to do one day by an agent or publisher, etc. I'm not to that point yet, but doubt is already at work :)

And by the way, you are a good writer -- don't doubt your abilities. Your writing is clear, crisp, easy to read, and filled with great messages. Continued blessings on your work, my friend!

Ginny said...

Oh Julie, you touched my heart where I hurt. I, too, do not have a college education. I so want to minister to people, but that doubt keeps coming at me, hissing, saying that I do not have what it takes to minister God's love to others. My doubt tells me that I have no talent for writing, speaking, or even leading a prayer. When faced with this kind of doubt, I shrug my shoulders and sigh, and relinquish my desires to that nasty doubt.
You are an inspiration. I wish I could mirror even an 1/8 of your talent.

Sonya Lee Thompson said...

WOW, Julie! When I met you at She Speaks, I had no idea you were not educated (I'm only sporting a high school diploma with "some" college myself)!! You seem so pulled together and professional. You are intelligent and delightful to talk to. I look forward to being one of the first to buy your prayer book when it comes out!

You had an incredible dream! Hold onto that, friend.

PS. I already bought a copy of Renee's book so don't put my name in the drawing. But thanks! It is fabulous!

Kim said...

Amazing...who would have guessed? When I first started following your blog, my thought was if only I could write like did Julie do it?...etc. I always chuckle how we never know what is below the surface. You are an encouragement, especially to us who also don't have a college degree. Lately, my words have been--I can't, but God can! Trusting in Him helps me squash the doubts!
Thanks for blessing us with this post and your authenticity!

North Jersey Christian Writers Group said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
North Jersey Christian Writers Group said...

Dear Julie,
Doubt seems to be the topic of the day (or the weekend!) Check out my post from yesterday.

Your writing shines with or without a degree. What you have accomplished in the past few years surpasses what teenagers/20-somethings accomplish at college.

And regarding doubt - personally I think it doesn't matter if you have a degree or not. If you had a PhD, the enemy would find another way to incite doubt. He is such a deceiver.

I haven't bought Renee's book yet, but plan to. Looking forward to reading it this summer.

Blessings to you in your ministry,

Carolyn Evaine Counterman said...

Wow, Julie. You go for the deep, don't you?

My doubts... my doubts are that I can be an effective servant for God (whether in writing or other areas). I have a Bachelor's degree in Social Work and I used to be out on the front line helping people. For several years now I have been in the back office pushing paper. And because of all kinds of things that have happened in life, I have started to doubt that I could go back out to the front line and help anyone in need. I feel like I would just sit down next to them and cry. When did I let these lies from the enemy sink into me? I can't give you a firm answer on when that happened or what preceded it, but it is real. The doubt is real.

And then God tells me to write. To be accountable to the lessons He is teaching me. So I put it out there on the blog for the whole world to see. The thoughts just roll in: what if I sound stupid? what if I actually cause more harm than good? what if I'm not actually "getting" the lesson He is trying to teach? what if I'm the only one who doesn't know that?

I'm just so glad that He is in charge and not me. That would be paralyzing. Thanks for reminding me to depend on Him. I'm glad I'm not alone in this.

Janice Johnson said...

I know where you are coming from about the education thing--been there, done that! I got married during my junior year of high school. My husband even signed my report cards for a year and a half! It never occurred to me to go to college--no one in my family ever had. My husband was doing graduate work, and just wanted a stay at home wife. So I had babies instead of college. Sometimes I think I am the only adult around without a college degree, and it often makes me feel insecure.

I have noticed that many, many women with degrees don't seem to do as much as I do or know as much as I know in some areas...and I wonder why they are lagging since they have the golden degree! So I have finally decided that all a degree would have done for me is make me not feel insecure that I didn't have a degree. Seems you can learn anything from life that you have the guts to go after and learn.

But I know what you mean--that deep down hidden insecurity is still there at times, ready to jump up and accuse me as if I have done something wrong! But I try to laugh at the enemy for such a shaky thing to attack me with.

Footnut said...

That word has been haunting me for sometime now DOUBT. My life has been a constant change. I lost my part time job and I lack the ambition to pursue to get another. My children are growing up (my youngest being 16). Life has been taking a different meaning lately with all this change.

Anonymous said...

I have experienced doubt in different areas of my life depending on the season; marriage, motherhood, writer, Christian in an all-Muslim family; you name it and I have experienced it.

The greatest one for me by far has been me doubting my ability to effectively witness to my family and that they actually see a change in how I live my life now as opposed to how I did the first 24 years of my life of being a Muslim. I doubt that I can be used by God as a tiny piece of the puzzle in their salvation. This type of doubt becomes especially prevalent if I do or say something in their presence that may be contrary to who I am in Him. I feel like a failure and as though my entire witness lies in that one failing moment.

God shared this morning that this is a book I need to read in this season (I don't read books unless the Lord leads me to them and confirms His will for me to read it) so I am looking forward to Him making a way for me to do so.

And glad to be introduced to you and your blog. Look forward to getting to know you and what God is doing in your life.

Jesus love and blessings.

Tracy Peters said...

I woke up this morning with the song "God is the Strength of My Heart" on my mind. God reminded me of this song again tonight when doubt began to rise up. I'm not sure how I found your blog, but God does. You confirmed the message that God is my strength. May God continue to richly bless you.

bosberg said...

Doubt hits me hardest in the middle of the night, straight out of a light sleep and as I lay there thinking of what I can do differently, I turn to prayer.
Doubt attacks my sanity the most. It's right there in the middle between what is and what could be.

Karen said...

My doubt is knowing how to speak my message. I have one but wonder if I will say it right or people will understand or how much I should say. I have a story and the end is being a believer but I doubt I should tell it.

Jenny said...

Hi Julie, Doubt is one of those things that saps the life right of me. I so easily forget all that Jesus has already done in my life. Whatever new thing he is calling me too, he can supply all I need in it.

I'm like you though a lack of educational credits, does make it a bit tougher. Then I remember that when the disciples first got started they amazed the leaders because they were uneducated men.

Have a great weekend!

Kelly said...

Almost every day I have woken up with " I am a failure thoughts" I have never felt like honestly I could do much. I struggle with feeling like an accomplished disciple. Over the past year or so God is allowing me to see little stars of hope. As I walk I am so glad He is Faithful.
Kelly K

KelliGirl said...

Hi Julie,
It's been a while and I'm so glad to stop here for a visit. Yes, Doubt and I are well acquainted. I've experienced it's discouraging, demoralizing grip especially in my writing life. I think I need to check out Renee's book!

So happy to read that She Speaks was a great success. What you're doing with the life experiences God's given you and the writing gifts He's blessed you with inspires me to be as faithful and passionate in my own life.

Hope all is well with you and your family.

Many blessings,

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I cried my own share of tears this year while driving home...

I feel so underqualified for the writing journey at times. Just when I think I've conquered doubt, it comes back around again for (like you said) an encore performance. This week has been one of those weeks for me.

So glad I was able to meet you at the conference this year. I look forward with great anticipation the arrival of your book on prayer!


Unknown said...

I love your honesty about how you have doubted God and your ablilities. I have struggled with God and doubted him with things that have come into my life. I have learned though the more I read the Word and walk with him the more I trust instead of doubting him. I know he has plans for me and my life and trusting him is hard sometimes when we don't understand it all.
You write great and I am enjoying your blog - Have a great day!

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