Leaving Our Self-Doubt in the Rearview
“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.” (1 John 3:18-20, MSG)
I struggle with self-doubt.
It comes in different forms, but through past experiences, I have been able to learn a lot about God. He has turned my past self-doubts into a testimony, and as a result, I approach my present personal doubts with a different understanding. I have begun to see that as Christians, we tend to buy into self-deprecation more easily, and deny our own God-given abilities. This usually stems from our own overcompensation in trying to not be proud or haughty; the downfall of this destructive behavior is that we go from one polarizing extreme to the other, and both pull us away from God.
Both sides of this pull come from a human comparison, a flaw of our own flesh. When we see others celebrating their accomplishments, the enemy can come in and sweep out our feet from beneath us by telling us to put ourselves down. It’s easy for us to forget that God has given us gifts, and these gifts are given without repentance. This means that running away from putting them on display is literally a sin. Jesus says that hiding a candle under a bushel is a fault, and when God bestows a gift or talent upon us, we have to learn to spiritually express these gifts in confidence. Doing this takes faith and trust in the fact that He has truly justified us and that Jesus took our place for sin and failure.
When we have self-doubt, it is the lie that attacks our worth by setting our eyes on our own downfalls, and even the capability of others, rather than He who is in us...He who is greater than the whole entire world.
One place in my life where I have had self-doubt is academics. I used to hate school. Homework and studying was never a passion of mine because I never believed I was intelligent or smart. I lived my life thinking I was less than because of my shortcomings. Little did I know, Jesus had a moment in store for me.
I was in junior high school and a teacher sat me down. She saw that I was failing her class, but noticed something in me that others couldn’t. She saw my light– my candle. She told me sternly to rise up and take hold of my education. I will never forget when she looked at me and said, “James, you are smart.”
Those words broke me, they broke through my tendencies in comparison and stirred a confidence within my heart. I prayed about it for a few months and Jesus turned my whole life around from that one divine appointment. When I got to high school, I began to study, pay attention, and enjoy homework. I saw that Jesus had more for me, simply because He was the “more.” He gave himself to me the more I gave myself to Him. The Lord pressed on my heart to speak over myself: I am smart, I am wise, I am understanding… and more. And suddenly, what once was my greatest weakness, became one of my greatest strengths.
My King Jesus pulled me from academic failure to strong A’s and B’s, things I’d never brought home before. However, self-doubt still tries to come back, sneakily, and in secret places. When others point out my success, I don't always know how to process it in any other way than saying, “I can do better” or “I should’ve done more.” Even if those statements are true, God holds us close and the things we do for Him are always enough. The trick is remembering that everything we do, we do it unto the Lord.
Truly knowing Jesus is the only step, the only cure, and the only process we need to recover from self-doubt. Seeing Jesus in the right light is seeing the One who took our place. Our eyes are ripped away from obsessing over where we have fallen short. All the seemingly valid reasons why we shouldn’t be close to Christ are burned away, and all that’s left is a reason to give our lives and follow. Despite what it may cost us, in pursuit of something that’s worth far more than we could imagine: we begin to see that Jesus is SO WORTH EVERYTHING. And the beginning of this understanding develops the vision within us that says, “If He is worthy and lives in me, then I am made worthy because of Him.”