When It’s Good To Doubt Yourself {What’s Next? Week 4}

It’s good to doubt yourself when you’re already doubting. When you’re standing in the middle of a dark tunnel, water up to your thighs. When you realize the fear ringing in your ears is your own voice bouncing off stone walls. You hear your voice shout: “No, I’m not shutting off the lights!” When the thoughts in your head are irrational, at best, and you realize, every confidence in the adventure you feel called to is being tested.

This is me under the excavated City of David in Jerusalem. Our family faithfully follows the tour guide down metal stairs, into a cavern. He’s just awed us by showing us the Spring of Gihon, where it is likely Solomon was anointed king. We listen to his instructions and step down into fluorescent dim light: Hezekiah’s tunnel, a hidden water source for the ancient kingdom of Israel in times of war. The guide steps to the right on a path with those who want to stay dry. The rest of our group veers to the left, down into water and darkness. My two kids lead the way.

Water rushes around ankles, calves, knees, then thighs. We proceed into a twenty-minute walk through cold, natural water in a zig-zagging tunnel. The guide told us what was coming. How the tunnel would extend straight for a while, but then proceed sharply right, then left, right, then left. How the ceiling would lower over our heads, and we would walk stooping between rock and water for a few minutes.

But the floor is slippery. The tunnel is smaller than I thought. A piece of white paper floats by, and it is blacker than black if we turn off our cell phones and flash lights. The tunnel enclossd us, rather tightly. What if it gets smaller? What if we get stuck? What if Kyle slips, or someone hits their head? What are we doing anyway?

Alisa Keaton says to doubt your doubts. This would be the time to do it. Question the questions. Why am I feeling this way? Where did that come from? Who is talking in my head?

Sit down, pour your questions a cup of tea, and ask, “Why?” “Really?” “What’s behind that?”

Get curious.

But I’m really good at trusting what I think, even when I’m irrational. So I do.

What Our Doubts Do

Doubt is the presence of uncertainty and a lack of conviction. It’s not bad, all the time. In fact, doubt can also be questioning in search of truth. Doubt desires security. Doubt wants to know what’s next. I’ve mentioned before my kids love to know what’s next. They ask, “Where are we going? What time is the next appointment? What are we doing there? How long will it take?” They want to know what’s going on. They doubt me. I know they seek safety. To test their trust sometimes I toss back, “Why do you need to know so badly?”

Ironically, they don’t know anything in that tunnel. They are on an adventure! They beg me to turn out all the lights. Not one time are they scared or unsure. Amazingly, they trust.

But Me? I Doubt

I question my capability, safety, and sensibility in the tunnel. There is nothing to do but keep going and get beyond it.

As we walk into the light, right at the Second Temple healing Pool of Siloam, a photographer snaps photos of a girl and boy in the water, each of them raising a huge water gun into the air. I’m slightly annoyed as I watch a stream of water arch above me slowly. This is where Jesus healed the blind man. Its powerful splash hits my arm, tapping my holier-than-thou senses into alignment. Why did I doubt?

We emerge from ancient water that has always been there, sustaining and healing in times of uncertainty. Scales fall from my eyes in the hot sun.

Joy knows we never forget the adventures we had in the dark.

Why do we need to know so badly?

What’s Next? is a series to help us discover joy in uncertain times. Join us during September for stories, challenge, questions, and community. 

Doubt your doubts. What does (or doesn’t) ring true with you about this concept?

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Come In! Support for the Lost Artist

// I get lost at least once a day

As I circle the park,

Leaves falling around me,

Catching in my hair.

I look up and praise God for the blue

and His bigness.

Me? I am small. I know it

Full well.

For I am fearfully,

Wonderfully

Made.

Yet, I walk the same paved path,

Sometimes twice, when I’m really feeling

The quandary

Of who I am,

Where I am going.

 

Small is a gift.

So is big.

As is wandering

And walking,

But sitting down and making?

Here I feel my fragility,

Face it head on,

Bump into a table,

A vase falls,

I try to catch it before I shatter

All over the hallway.

What a bunch of pieces!

And writing is creating,

Sometimes like me with Gorilla glue

Frantically repairing.

 

Today I see Shel’s words

On a table:

“Come in!” you lost ones.

You writers, liars, and thieves. //

You wanderers, dreamers, and hopeless hope-ers,

Come in—feel warmth of apple pies

Made together,

Books read

Together

Of laughter on back porch at ten p.m.

On Thursday,

Of shared messes of motherhood and making.

Lost moments,

And support,

The kind that knows lost is imply looking

For belonging, home, and hope.

 

Come in! Come in!

One thing:

When you go, do for the lost

What’s been done for you.

Again and again.

Our circling will straighten.

Our fragments will gleam in lamplight.

Where do you find creative support and inspiration?

This poem is part of the Five Minute Friday community. Our one wordprompt is SUPPORT. (// indicates the start and stop of five minutes).

For the Writer

Check out the Start-Up Guide for Online Writer’s Guide E-Course available for under $20 for a limited time. A great investment in your creative self.

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The Cold Remedy

Drink tea.

Now diffuse oils.

Close eyes. Nap. Let it be.

Rest? Salvation. Heal the unseen.

Cease toils.

This week I’m thwarting a cold and the desire to push through it. I came across this verse,

In repentance and rest is your salvation,

in quietness and trust is your strength,

but you would have none of it.

Verse 15 from a chapter in Isaiah 30 entitled, “Woe to the Obstinate Nation” (NIV). I almost laughed out loud when I read that summarization. The go, go, go mentality often keeps me from recovering fully. I tell myself it’s just a cold. Twenty-four hours, tops! We rebels like to to go full steam until we drop.

Enter: the practice of poetry. Writing poems helps me to pay attention to what I truly need. Today that happens to be tea, oils, rest, and more poetry. Always the faithful remedy.

I wrote this poem, called a cinquain, in conjunction with the weekly Tweetspeak Poetry prompt. If you’re into poetry form, I combined the Crapsey Cinquain pattern of 2/4/6/8/2 syllables for each line with the Early Cinquain in abaab structure: Here’s last week’s: tree pose.

What helps you pay attention to what your body and soul need?

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So Beyond This {What’s Next? Week 3}

Uncertainty feels so uncertain.

When Charlottesville, Virginia, happened, any certainty in the story we tell ourselves about how advanced, cultured, and so beyond this we are shifted like an amorphous black entity blocking out the sun.

The thing about uncertainty is it freezes our brain. It causes more stress than a certain outcome, whether positive or negative. (source) For a time, we get stuck in fear. Even if we know the end result will be bad, physiologically we feel less anxiety than when we don’t know what’s next.

Recently I heard a speaker say we put people in categories because we default to a cultural narrative we tell ourselves: some are in and some are out. As people of faith, our job is to step through barriers which relegate people to other.

He was saying, walk directly into uncertainty.

Do What Exactly?

Carolina Cisneros wrote how she lay on the floor after the incident and asked God, “What do you want me to do?” That’s a steep question: it involves stripping ourselves of ego and reputation. It means commiting to relationship, service, and love, even if it fails.

Uncertainty feels (ahem) so uncertain.

What I find interesting is prolonged uncertainty can help us become better discerners and decision makers. We learn to distrust our ability to control. We make wiser choices because we trust the source of all knowledge and experience. For Christians, this is God Himself.

God’s wisdom is so deep, God’s power so immense,
    who could take him on and come out in one piece?
He moves mountains before they know what’s happened,
    flips them on their heads on a whim.
He gives the earth a good shaking up,
    rocks it down to its very foundations.
He tells the sun, ‘Don’t shine,’ and it doesn’t;
    he pulls the blinds on the stars. Job 9:10-12 (MSG)

An Exercise To Get a Grip

When you’re faced with uncertainty, do a reality check. Ask, what’s the worst case scenario? What’s the best? A spectrum of sorts. What is most likely to happen? Usually, it will be something in the middle. When we have a better grip on reality, we can trust God in the places we don’t understand. We can move beyond ourselves.Tweet This

Uncertainty raises our stress levels, but it also gives us the ability to be better judges of the places we might just need to be:

  • In scary spaces, like racism, we can be bold voices for equality.
  • In unending disaster, like Hurricane Harvey, we can give excessively.
  • In places we may feel an outsider, maybe church or our own neighborhoods, we can be the first to say, “Hey, how’s it going?”

How do we step into places of prolonged uncertainty? We get a grip and we do. Like Carolina Cisneros. She wrote a post about her own experience with racism. She stepped into the unknown, equipped and empowered to lean into this place where her words influence.

What does God want you to do in your current uncertainty? I can only answer for myself. I start with doubting my doubts (which we’ll talk about next week) and asking God, “What do you want me to do?” I start by crossing lines, stepping out of categories. I’m so beyond this.

What’s Next? is a series to help us discover joy in uncertain times. Join us during September for stories, challenge, questions, and community. 

A Certain Guide for Uncertain Times

My Hammock Moment in Israel

Join the Conversation

What helps you live into God’s reality rather than your own?

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The Work You Love

// Finding the work I love to do has taken years to implement, to grow into. A friend asked me over dinner recently, “Have you always been writing?” Yes, and no. It’s the thing I love to do but often ran away from. I used to scrawl poems in spiral notebooks and journals, on the back of napkins and church bulletins. In the back of my mind though, I never truly believed God would bless my work.

I thought being a creative writer was great, but the question in my mind: could I produce something real and worthy? Could I make a living at it? Money has never been a real driving force in my life (except to fund my travels and adventures), but for some reason, having dollar bills seemed like verifiable proof my work was worth something.

What I’ve learned over years of running away from the craft I love and finding it again, of homeschooling my kids and learning alongside them, and of recently starting my Holy Yoga certification, what I’ve learned is this: //

Finding the work you love is worth the fight.Tweet This

God doesn’t give us passions so we can prove our worth. He blesses us with the satisfaction of knowing we sweat, study, and scribble for Him alone.

Sally Clarkson says in Own Your Life:

It is an illusion to think that any great work of beauty ever comes naturally.  It comes to life little by little by countless days of diligent hard work.

Tuesday I got a check for $18.78 for my ebook I wrote 2 years ago. My first payment for writing since I started my writing career. As I show up to the page day after day, practice on my yoga mat to start a small business, and pack lunches for my kids, I know all of it is the work I love. Ten minutes here, thirty there, the days turn into years. A growing sense of gratitude grows within me. Yes, I’d keep doing it for free, forever.

I’m writing this post with the Five Minute Friday community. Our one-word writing prompt was WORK. // indicates the start and stop of five minutes.

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Tree Pose

One foot

Roots leg to earth.

Toes clutch. Corners balance.

Thighs cinch. Wind blows. Arms shake. Heart bared.

Grit grows.

Poems have roots.

Writing poetry is like planting words into a fixed space or form, a plot of soil, or a pot, if you will, where words take root and grow up inside you. This poem is a cinquain (pronounced sin-KANE). Isn’t that a great word? A cinquain is much like a haiku, a poem whose form is determined by the amount of syllables on each line. 2/4/6/8/2 distinguishes this lovely little structure. To find more about the history of the cinquain, check out this week’s Tweetspeak Poetry prompt.

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