Trading self-doubt for courage

I hear people say things like, You are the right mother for your kids. While I want to believe them, somewhere deep within--from a dark spot in my soul I call BS on this line (Side bar: my kids think BS stands for babysitter!). When I find myself cradling my thrashing daughter who is screaming that she hates us, the sentiment You are the right mother for your kids feels cliche and sarcastic.

Since I became a parent via foster-adopt I've gone through the ringer of self-doubt. Every opportunity I missed, every tantrum from one of my kids, every time I make a mistake (so, daily...) feeds the belief that I am not the right mother for my kids. 

If only they had someone who was more patient, stronger, less sarcastic, more motherly--then they'd be better off, I think.

After wallowing in my own self-doubt for a few weeks, I reluctantly cracked open my Bible. I'm a stubborn, bull-headed woman who likes to believe she don't need no help from NOBODY (read that last part again in your best sassy girl voice...). I do realize how stupid this independence is...ANYWAY, I stumbled upon Joshua 1, and it was my burning bush.

If you haven't read Joshua 1, here's an abbreviated, loosely-paraphrased version with a twist: 

      Moses, who had been charged with leading the Israelites out of captivity and into the Promised           Land, has just died. So God calls on Joshua to take over. God was all like, "Hey Josh--I know our       man Moses just died, but you know--you got this because I got this. Don't be a pansy--I got you.         Lead my home-dawgs into their new land. Haters gonna hate, but they won't beat you down.               Don't be a pansy 'cuz I got you. Don't forget about my commands; keep them on your lips and             think about them e'ry day. And hey: Don't be a pansy...I got your back, bruh." (Joshua 1:1-9). 

I tend to think that at some point throughout God's revelation to Joshua, he probably thought, Wait, wait...you got the wrong guy. I'm not the right hombre to lead these people. I'm not strong enough, patient enough, fatherly enough. I can't compare to Moses. 

And maybe God knew that Joshua's heart would be filled with doubt because in these nine verses, God tells Joshua four times to be strong and unafraid reassuring him that He's got Joshua's back. And as it turns out, this reassurance must've been enough for Joshua because in verse 10, he starts giving orders and taking the lead. 

In a nutshell, Joshua 1:1-9 gave me the following reminders:

1. God calls new leaders and equips them to step in for those who can't lead anymore. Just like Joshua was called to step in for Moses, I am called to step in for my kids' birth mothers. It's not natural to parent children you did not birth or raise for the first four-five years of their lives. Despite all of this, I must remember that the God who delivered the Israelites from Pharoah, who created the earth, who raised the dead to life--this same God has promised to be with me in this new role. I am not strong enough to do this job on my own, but His presence equips me. 

2. God's promises are not without conflict. In Joshua 1:5, God tells Joshua that "No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life..." which implies that Joshua will fight many battles but will not be overcome by them (as evidenced in the rest of Joshua). God promises to always be with us and to never forsake us, but He doesn't promise a life free from tension. I will continue to experience conflict with my children, but I can find some sort of refuge in God's promise to never leave His people. 

3. Keeping the word of God on my heart and mind and practicing it will ensure success. This is a tough one for me. I'm terrible at memorizing scripture, and the first thing on my lips is usually something snarky. Joshua meditated on God's word and used it as guidance for him in his new role as leader of the Israelites...and it didn't fail him. Joshua 1:8 states that we will be "prosperous and successful" when we make God's word a guidepost for us. Our concept of these two words, though, has changed over time. We consider the apostle Paul to be successful, but he was poor and lived a good chunk of his life in jail. Following God's word won't magically put money in the bank, place a half-million dollar roof over our heads, or magically change my kids' behaviors, but it will strengthen me and have an eternal pay off far better than any earthy pay off. 

Consider the roles God has given you. Wife? Mother? Husband? Father? Teacher? Caretaker? In what areas of your life do you feel inadequate? Make a T-chart. Write the self-doubts in the left column. For every doubt, find a Bible verse that would help you be courageous over this doubt. Write the verse down in the right column opposite the doubt. Consider memorizing one verse a week. I write them on my bathroom mirror, on sticky notes I keep in my purse, and sometimes I even write them on my hand because I'm too scared of tattoos and needles. Use scripture to help you remember God's promises and to restore your courage when you feel inadequate. 


Kristin said...

God knew what He was doing when He gave you those kids. Yup, I'm being cliche, but it's totally true. As you said, He's got your back... and so do I :)

Whitney said...

Self doubt always holds us back. Lovely post!