I embrace doubt and skepticism. As a Christian, I have had plenty of moments in which I have doubted God, His Will, and (I almost feel guilty about this) even His existence. But at those moments when I doubt, I find Him there, standing next to me. I just needed to open my eyes a little more to take Him in.
Similarly, doubting myself in terms of my lessons or my assignments makes me reflect, which is a good thing. A person who does not self-evaluate his/her work is a person who stands upon a pedestal of arrogance and bad intentions disguised with a sense of overall goodness and altruism. Step down, my friend. Let me give you hand…because your pedestal is tipping like an imbalanced Jenga set and you’re going to collapse.
But doubt can also be toxic. Growing up, I always compared myself to my big brother who truly is a great, intelligent, athletic, remarkable man. I am not going to do any comma buts and then start listing all of his flaws. But I created a measuring stick that was never going to be my height. I’ve discussed this before so sorry for my repetition. Regardless, the point I am trying to make here is that I compared myself to him when I needed to spend a little more time concentrating on creating a measuring stick that would match my height and dimensions. Peter is a good man and will always be a good man. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t stand beside him and be a good woman. I’ll never be as good of a man as he is….because I don’t have Y chromosomes (snicker….).
Doubt in myself was helpful in making me look over my shoulder and ask, “Did I do that right?”
But when I am spending so much time staring over my shoulder that I trip on the present, well…I have a problem.
Or, rather, I had a problem.
I still like to look over my shoulder and examine my work. Today, I took the whole painting the front porch to a new level. I bought new paint that is not the consistency of hardened rubber cement and used the sprayer to paint the porch. It took me a while to figure out everything, but I did it…well most of it. I ran out of pain even though I had more than enough to paint two porches. And I ended up catching a lot of other things in the spray because the paint just seemed to go everywhere. Right now, my azalea bushes look like they are frosted over and it’s winter. My bike is freckled with white dots. Let’s not talk about the dog food bin. I was at least nice enough to get my husband to move his car. I thought I should be nice to get him to do that.
I doubted myself so many times. So often, I worried that I was getting paint everywhere. Well, duh…I’m painting a front porch that has slats, not solid walls. And I’m using a sprayer. Which means that paint is going to get sprayed everywhere. Geez Graceless…chill out.
I doubted myself in terms of spraying on too much and then not enough. I doubted myself in terms of spraying in all the right angles and between the boards. I doubted and I doubted and I doubted and then I just got sick and tired of myself doubting because, in the end, the boards are covered in white paint that is currently drying and I still have to finish putting on paint onto about 20% of the porch. But the other 80%? Well, given that I’ve never used a sprayer before….I think it looks great.
And anyone who doesn’t think so is welcome to dig out the sanders and the scrapers and the chemicals and the brown butcher block paper and the painter’s tape and the rollers and the brushes and the paint key and the paint and the newspaper and the garbage bags and the paint stick and the sprayer and the attachments and get to work.
By the way, don’t forget to cut back on the azaleas because I didn’t do all of the branches and some of the leaves brushed up against the paint.
But if you do cut back on the azaleas (like I did), then you need to be mindful of the stumps because I have a two inch gash on my left shin from an epic battle between an azalea and me. I lost.
Yeah….doubt keeps us humble….good.
Doubt also makes us question the integrity of our souls.
Like Jilly-Bean. Recently, she’s been questioning herself because other people have been less than kind to her. Excuse me? What the hell is wrong with those people? I want to grab them by the scruff of their necks and just shake them. Jillian is an amazing human being and the last thing she needs to do is question the integrity of her actions, not when she gives of herself constantly. She just wrapped up a co-splay event and is doing charitable work for the hospital downtown and…really? Jillian…stop doubting yourself, dear one. You’re wonderful and humbled and excellent and perfect and I love you.
Or Lucas who was the inspiration behind a blog at the beginning of this summer. He messaged me the other day with concerns and I could see that the doubt monster had been whispering in his ear. This beautiful young man is currently helping a friend who has cancer (and it’s not stage one….) while working, going to college, doing homework, weightlifting, and lifting the weight off of other people’s shoulders. This young man is a lovely Atlas who will shoulder the burdens of others so that they may walk with their heads a little more upright. He has no reason to doubt himself. And yet, he is. And I just wish he would stop.
Today, on Facebook, a beautiful friend of mine (Brittany), the beautiful bride who literally walked down the aisle to her groom when she would normally have to walk with a cane and, if the pain is too horrific, is confined to a wheelchair, sent me a beautiful post with a quote from C.S. Lewis on it. “We read to know that we are not alone.”
I almost started weeping because I doubt myself and I doubt my writing so when people on WordPress like a post…wow…I get those wonderful thrill bumps down my back and realize that I might be on to something after all. By the way, thank you to those who have read my blog. Robert O….you are such a wonderful person because you have given me such encouragement and inspiration with your likes. I love your poetry…you must teach me how to edit poetry because I am horrible at editing my own poetry.
And Brittany, she is the constant reminder of what happens when you stop doubting yourself and you just start walking forward. She could have fallen. She could have tripped. But she didn’t. She kept her head high and her eyes straightforward and smiled so deeply that the tides must have changed that day thanks to the crescent of her grin. She was and still is a force to be reckoned with. Because she might doubt herself. But then she will literally pick herself up and become a hurricane of strength and resilience and courage.
Every now and then (all right…frequently), my dear second father, Dave “Big Daddy,” will write to me an encouraging note of support on Facebook after I have posted my blog for the day. And, again, my heart skips a beat because his words take away the little nibbling doubt that sits in the pit of my stomach. My wonderful father has a horrible memory and doesn’t read my blog all the time (no, I’m not whining here…this is just fact and I’m not crying in a corner. I’m typing at a table at Starbucks). But when my “Big Daddy” writes to me, I feel like he’s speaking for both of my fathers, and my heart lifts.
I aspire to be the “Big Daddy” to Jillian, to Lucas, to the other people out there who doubt themselves so much that they forget that they are so much more than the little slime demon that sits on their shoulder and pour poison into their ears. Doubt is good. Doubt keeps us humble, keeps us modest, keeps us looking at our noses and not down them.
But too much doubt is venomous…and I’m happy to pull out the fangs.