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3:00 a.m. :My Soul, Bob Must Die, Doubt, and a Sick Kiddo

It’s 3:00 in the morning. I’m laying here just waiting. Every 25 minutes since about 1:30, poor Cooper has been up throwing up. It scares him and I understand. It scares me for him.

And the worst part is that even if he wasn’t sick, I’d be awake with my mind wandering. It’s done it all week. Doubt seeps in from time to time and takes over making one blind to successes (be they small or large) or words of encouragement (be they small or large) and it’s been a week of blinding doubt.

Today I took off a little early because I knew I’d spend part of my Saturday (an off day) at the church with the youth and kids as they iron out the kinks in their Christmas play. I knew there was a prop I was working on that wasn’t finished and it would need my time and attention which would be diverted from my children and family so I took off a little early. With that time Craig and I went on a date. It’s an assignment of ours. It’s no secret that our lives have been tumultuous for the last 3 months and our marriage has taken a terrible hit. It’s no secret that really 2014 has been a suck-sucky year filled with death, pain, and a fast-pace that’s disallowed for the right kind of healing which has only made tonight, 3:00 in the morning, an open door for doubt and discouragement.

I know every mom goes through it. Am I really cut out to be a mom? Can I really still pull a college-worthy all-nighter for a pukey toddler? Questions related to feelings of failure and inadequacy. But then, the mom-magic that every mom is born with. It’s not really a question of “can I”; it’s just something we do. We do 3:00 a.m., he’s on the forth towel, we’re out of clean bedsheets, and instead of blogging I ought to Lysol all of downstairs while they’re maybe sleeping. We “do” being a mom.

The other is tougher, though. Feelings of doubt, inability, and inadequacy in ministry aren’t as easy to combat. My expectations of myself are high — perhaps too high — and of course, mine aren’t the only expectations. It’s far too easy for me to lie awake in bed night after night, and ask a similar question about ministry that I do about parenting. Am I really cut out to be a pastor? Can I really pull a college-worthy all-nighter for worry about being “good enough,” doing “enough,” or being there “enough”? The answer about this one doesn’t come as easily as the one about parenting.

Self-doubt it like a disease. It gets under our skin, seeping into our pores, infecting our vital organs until we are paralyzed or are in full-on organ failure. It is a daunting cruelty of our existence. Call it the devil. Call it conscience. Call it God’s voice of careful warning. Call it my middle-of-the-night unhealthy soul (coupled with my middle-of-the-night sick baby). Call it whatever but do, in fact, name it. I’m going to name it Bob (no offense to Bob’s out there; it’s just the first name I could conjure at 3:17 in the morning) and Bob must die.

You see, God doesn’t intend diseases of the soul. God wants, “it is well with my soul” to be our mantra. Rarely is that our response. This week a clergy colleague of mine asked me how it was with my soul. My response (and I’m not ashamed to share) was, “My soul has taken a vacation to Tahiti because it can’t take it anymore.” It has truly been the worst year of my life. It has and my soul could probably use a stress-free vacation, sure. But if anything my soul isn’t hurting because all I’ve gone through. It’s hurting because of the doubt I find myself fighting with. It’s hurting because I’ve forgotten my courage, neglected my strengths, and tried too hard to be a people-pleaser without remembering that ministry truly brings me joy — ministry isn’t a job; it’s a calling — in ministry I am not doing my work alone — I can, in fact, do this and well.

Leave it to 3:23 a.m. for me to give myself a pep-talk on the shadows of doubt. Meanwhile, Cooper may finally be finished puking.

How do you overcome the shadow? Do you struggle with doubt? What’s your “doubt-theology”? What are your doubt triggers? I’m really learning how to identify mine (and, well, avoid them — remember, Bob must die).

3:25. Maybe I can get 3 hours of sleep. Rest is good for the soul, right?