On Doubt (And When Columbus Was All, “What Was I Thinking?”)

by Laura on February 5, 2013

There are a few things I’ve learned about doubt over the last three years of risk and failure, of transition and struggle.

First, I’ve learned that the people who tell you that you shouldn’t ever have experience doubt if you are really following God and are on the “right” path, are probably smoking crack. You’re human. And you have a brain. And you live in the real world. I reckon even Columbus was probably all “This was a very bad idea” midway over the Atlantic.

Second, I’ve learned that doubt for a day, or even a few days, doesn’t mean you scrap the whole plan and launch off in a different “safer” direction. Temporary doubt shouldn’t translate into knee-jerk reactions and it doesn’t equate disobedience or missing God’s plan, either. (Consistent doubt, repeated questions from wise counsel, an unsettled spirit . . . these may speak a different truth entirely, however.)

Third. If you don’t have days when you seriously question, well, maybe you’re not pushing envelopes hard enough. Maybe you’re playing it too safe. In my experience, doubt and risk are a bit like three-legged race partners.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth. I’ve also learned that some days, especially the doubting ones, you need to walk forward out of sheer will, grit, blood, and sweat, other days you need to treat yourself to wine or chocolate, and the rest just require an earlyaspossible bedtime. (Things always look better in the morning, anyway.)

And seventh, I’ve learned, and am still learning, that the biggest choice I make when I doubt the circumstances or the chosen path is either to lean in or to fall back.

When I fall back, I throw up my hands or I wring them– neither of which is productive for me or my relationships.

But when I choose to lean in-

to press forward into the journey ahead,

to submit myself to the fallout, whatever that may be,

and to trust that God can handle my questions and my heart–

this, this is where freedom comes alive. 

And  I’m learning it’s this process of leaning in that kicks the doubts to the curb, at least for a little while . . . .

. . . Until next time.*

*Reference first thing learned.


What are you doubting right now? What helps you not give up too early?

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana

    SO true LOVE this!!! Ever human ever doubts. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Thanks, Lana . . . I feel like sometimes in our christian circles we think to walk forward we have to be 100% sure in God’s calling and that if we taste doubt we are somehow lacking faith . . . which in some circumstances just doesn’t seem a fair expectation.
      Thanks for your encouragement. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/alana.blase Alana Blase

    doubt it definitely part of being a human I think. At the moment we are trusting God for a lot of money to build a school and health clinic in India..although I know what the bible says, and although I do believe that, I do have days where it all just seems WAY to much..but I carry on, because even in the midst of my doubt there is glimmers of hope..the testimony’s, the encouragement..its almost like we just have to push doubt aside and give it a smile and wave as we walk on by!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker


      What a great thing you are asking God to do! And isn’t that the place we WANT/NEED to be as people that follow Jesus– dependent on HIM to show up and do it and move? Elsewise, it’s just our strength accomplishing “good things.”
      Keep walking by and smiling and waving . . .

  • http://twitter.com/erikalifeartist Erika Morrison

    Frederick Buechner says you should keep a copy of the New York Times on the nightstand next to your Bible and ask God every morning if you can believe again for the day.

    Love this and LOVE you.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      That Frederick.
      He must have been smart.

      But, I guess anyone with a name like Frederick would be.

      No, seriously, thanks. Isn’t that good advice– that the spiritual world DOES NOT exist and thrive except hand in hand with the physical one.
      Love back at you, friend.

  • courtney o

    thank you.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Smile. Hug.

      and a Hang in There.

  • Adina

    I live here. I especially live in numbers 4,5,and 6. I’ll probably hit “send” on this comment and immediately think, “what was I thinking? I should just learn to hold my tongue.” After I said ‘yes’ to TZ about doing live-art on Sunday, I was HORRIFIED for DAYS afterwards. And yet, today I heard over and over that it was good. And valuable. And maybe even used by God. So, to quote Winston Churchill, “never, never, never give up.”

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Adina . . .

      I hate that I missed Sunday. I heard you and Lois were inspirations. And isn’t that the way of it . . . . that the risk of stepping out has the potential to end in humiliation but so often God’s plan is inspiration? (Even if the inspirational piece is just in our journey of obedience and risking vulnerability?)
      I reckon that artists, especially, must walk that risky vulnerability all. the. time.

  • Laura Dietrick

    As an artist, doubt comes with the job. From, “what the heck am I doing?” to “what color did you really want to put down?”, it runs the whole spectrum. Doubt is something that you learn to live with and the antidote is trust. You trust that the end result with at the very least be a learning experience (I’ll never do THAT again…) and that it is part of the process of living your life. Those who think that doubt should never enter the picture have an unrealistic view of the world and are too often fooling themselves. Listen to your heart.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker


      So true about the doubt that comes naturally with ART. I had never connected that, but I totally see it. When you sling words or paint out to the wide world and then you think, “wwwwaaaaiittt!” I think I wanna just take that back.
      I guess the artist has to get used to the continual risking and the vulnerability that comes with it.

  • Handsfull

    Don’t know that I’m doubting, exactly, but definitely ‘leaning in’. I’m asking so many big questions of God and myself at the moment, and I’m desperate for people to talk to about it. I’m just so sick of the shallows and craving the deep. I’ve managed to talk my bible study group out of doing a study on Luke and into doing a study on Job – and if we have to talk about end-times One More Time, I think I’ll scream!
    I’m not sure exactly why your post brought all this to the surface, except that you mentioned chocolate, wine and early bedtimes – these are what’s helping keep me going right now :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/amber.elswick Amber Elswick

    thank you so much for your fresh honesty perspective on being a missionary wife and family. I have read though you post of the last couple of months or so and found such encouragment. Thank you! Our family is just beginning our missionary journey.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Glad you are enjoying it . . .

      And so glad you are stepping out overseas. It is a wild journey with such depth offered.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. :)

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