It’s usually very subtle. I’ll be thinking about something I want to do or something I sense God calling me to, and all of the sudden this nauseating sense of insecurity will come over me. Out of the blue, uncertainty will sneak up on me and whisper: You can’t do that. You’re not good enough or competent enough.
And many times I’ve gone along with my self-doubts, agreed with my insecurities, and shut down my desires because I believed the whispers.
For years, I didn’t tell anyone about the doubts that lingered in my thoughts. I figured if someone else knew the reasons I doubted myself, they’d notice all the flaws I had worked hard to hide. Honestly, I thought I was the only one who struggled with doubt. But I never called it doubt; maybe you don’t either.
I called it worry — worry I was going to disappoint someone, worry I might make a mistake and get criticized for it, worry I’d start something but not be able to finish it.
Or I called it fear — fear of not measuring up, fear of rejection, fear of looking prideful by thinking I could do something special for God.
There was a pattern in my thinking that led to a pattern of my un-believing.
As a child I doubted I wasn’t worth keeping. Insecurity kept me from riding the carousel at an amusement park because I didn’t believe my dad would wait for me. In school, I thought I wasn’t smart enough and avoided some great opportunities because they came with the risk of failure. As a young bride, I doubted my worth in my husband’s eyes. Although he gave me no reason to fear, our newlywed memories included a lot of arguments about trust.
The apostle Paul challenges us in Romans 12:2 not to let our minds be conformed by the patterns of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can discern God’s perfect and pleasing will and know if that thing we’re desiring to do is His idea or ours.
But how do we know whether we’re being conformed or transformed?
The world’s pattern of thought says our worth is measured by our productivity and performance, our size and status, the number of friends or followers we have on social media.
God’s word says our worth has been established in Him — not based on what we have or what we can do but based on Who He is and what He has already done on our behalf.
Yet how often do we doubt our worth in a single day? How often do our thoughts convince us we’re not enough or that we don’t have what it takes?
Recently doubt almost convinced me I was a mess who couldn’t handle her life. I had a herniated disc that made it impossible to sleep or walk, a work deadline I wasn’t going to meet, several therapy appointments with my daughter, and a friend I’d let down because I couldn’t be there for her.
I was drowning in a deep sense of inadequacy and and frustrated with my inability to steward my relationships and my own well-being.
But this time, instead of going along with my pattern of destructive and discouraging thoughts, I went looking for truth to re-pattern my thinking. I found and focused on Philippians 4:13:
I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.
As I read those words, I closed my eyes and imagined a thread of God’s promise being sewn into the fabric of my thoughts — I could do it all if I depended on the strength God promised to give me through Christ in me.
And as I took one step at a time, seeking His direction and leaning into His understanding instead of my own, God transformed my perspective. He renewed my mind with an unexpected calm, clarity, and confidence that I could do what He was calling me to do and nothing more.
It sounds like it was a quick fix, but it was more a process of letting God slowly change the pattern of my thoughts to be more like His throughout the day.
The patterns of this world lead to doubt, fear, and worry. They are powerful forces, but God’s Word trumps them all, always.
Whatever doubts you’re facing today, you’re not alone. I’m asking God to help you and me be bold and intentional by letting Him change our minds, allowing Him to replace our conformed thoughts with His transforming truths and to know:
He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6, ESV)
Michele Morin says
Philippians 1:6 gives me strong assurance that God is not going to let me down or leave me on the carousel. How wonderful that He is invested in this process of transformation! Thank you for going first, Renee–it’s so much easier to admit to doubts and weakness of faith when the way has been cleared by a brave sister in Christ.
Renee Swope says
Oh Michele, your words brought tears to my eyes. If going first gives a sister-friend more courage, all the scared brave is worth it afterall. 🙂
Ps. Love Phil.1:6 too!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Reading your post, I feel like I could have written it. My thoughts have always been invaded by doubt, fear, worry, anxiety, with a heaping measure of guilt. First, I learned I have an anxiety disorder which doesn’t help, but I had to learn steps so as not to let the “bully” (the enemy) get his foot in the door with the thoughts he shot as flaming arrows into my mind. I began asking myself three questions: 1. Does this thought make me anxious or unsettled (not calm)? 2. Does it make me doubt, worry, feel badly about myself or condemned? 3. Does the thought I’m thinking line up with the Truth found in scripture (what God says about my worth or my ability)? If the answers are yes, yes, and no then I KNOW that the thoughts are not of God. They are the enemy’s lies and I need to, in God’s strength, cast them to the curb along with the enemy. God does not bring us thoughts of fear, unworthiness, doubt, condemnation, etc. That’s all the work of the enemy….lies. Romans 8:1 became my rally cry. Like you, I pray that God would renew my mind with His Truth and that I would stand firm in His promises – like I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Easier said than done some days, but nipping the negative thought train in the bud sure helps. Awesome post!
Good Word indeed Bev!
100 % there with you Bev, it’s a lot easier now to recognise most negative thoughts (not all) and stop them in their tracks with Gods help of course!
Renee Swope says
I agree 100% Bev. My biggest struggle is slowing down my thoughts long enough to listen to them, really listen. And then ask similar wise, Truth-filtering questions to see if they belong in this brain of mine or if they need to be kicked to the curb. Like you, I struggle with anxiety, plus ADHD so it’s super hard to hold my thoughts captive. I can barely catch them but JESUS, He’s helping me trace them down when the sadness, doubt, and discouragement come – because I know all those feelings are results of my thinking. #workinprogress #gracegracegrace
Amen to that Michele! Renee I reasonate totally with you.. I wanted to stand on these promises like a soldier at her station! But this undersirable package my mind calls myself… won’t seem to get it, so I will trust on the Lord and lean not on my own understanding and believe He will finish the work He started in me! I can do all things in Christ, who strengthens me… even just this hour, one day at a time..
blessings sweet sisters xoxo
Renee Swope says
Sadie, my mind has a life of it’s own too! Most days, if I slow down long enough to figure out what is going on in my head, I have to chase my thoughts and catch ’em long enough to hold them captive. That’s the only way I can make sure they are not leading me back to the pit of doubt and discouragement– that I refuse to hang out in anymore. We can do this!! But only with God’s help, for sure. xoxo
Lara Sadowski says
Rrnee, what a timely post! Thank you for this! You referenced two of my favorite Scripture that I carry with me daily, lovingly reminding me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and promising me He will complete the good work in me. GREAT NEWS for us all! <
I'm so thankful to God that He is faithful to transform our thoughts. He loves us and is pleased with us. We are God's daughters – WOW. Thank you, Lord Jesus.
And thank you, Renee, for your transparency and encouraging words!
Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow!
Joy in Jesus,
Renee Swope says
Amen Lara! Loved reading your beautiful reminder that “He loves us and is pleased with us. We are God’s daughters”!!!
Renee, thank you for sharing this. When I saw the title in my email, this morning, I knew I had to read this post immediately. What a blessing it is to know I’m not alone. In theory, we always know we’re never the only one dealing with something, but my mind works over time to reinforce feelings of doubt, fear, worry and insecurity AND to try and convince me I’m the only woman in the world like this. It’s a crazy thing, and I don’t always do the best job of refocusing my thoughts on the truth of God’s word. So this reminder was right on time and much appreciated.
Renee Swope says
You are SO not alone in this struggle. I think Satan uses self-doubt, worry and insecurity to isolate us and shut us down – in epidemic proportions!! The more I speak and write on this topic, the more convinced I am that this is one of his most affective weapons against God’s girls. BUT God is determined to expose the lies and empower us with TRUTH one day, one doubt at a time. Eph 3:20!!
Funny how God works, had made a decision yesterday not to put myself down so much and stop letting satan push those buttons of failure and guilt. Your post encouraged me more to keep heading in that right direction. Thank you for your encouraging post! 🙂
Renee Swope says
Love it!! Don’t let that bully push you around, Thea.
Pearl Allard says
Renee, I needed this. Thank you. One other thing I’d add is sometimes the doubts, fears, and worries are so loud we need a trusted friend to fight back with us. We might know the truth and the right verses to go to but we just need a little help raising our shield of faith or sword of the Spirit when we’re so bowed down they feel impossible to lift. Thank you for being that sister who lends her voice to fight. Bless you!
Renee Swope says
I agree Pearl, 100%!! We need each other to walk beside us and speak truth over us, holding up our arms when we aren’t strong enough to carry our shields alone. God created us for community, and I pray that you know we are here, your online-community and we are committed to being that for you, for each others. So glad you are here!!
Cyndi Carter says
My thoughts exactly! I knew the truth for years, but it wasn’t until a dear friend helped my heart to realize the the truth really applied to me. She’s been the hands and feet and heart of Jesus to me, and I know He put her into my life. It’s all Him, from beginning to end.
I can totally relate. I struggle a lot with doubt, fear, and anxiety. Thank you for this post!!
Renee Swope says
Praying for you now MaryMargaret. You are not alone.
Stephanie Rolen says
Thank you, Renee. I struggle with believing those whispers all the time. And it has become a pattern that I am struggling mightily with at this point in my life. It is a daily struggle. And I agree with Pearl, sometimes when I am in the midst of this battle I know I need a physical person to pull me out. I know it is wrong. I know what God says, but I am unable. We desperately need each other.
Renee Swope says
Sweet Stephanie, it’s not wrong to need a physical person to pull us out of our doubts and discouragement. God created us to need each other, to walk beside each other and to speak truth over our hearts and hold up our arms when we aren’t strong enough to carry our shields alone.
God created us for community, and we are here for you – not in person but online. We are praying for you and we’re so you are here!!
Just seeing this, this morning. Thank you for these words, for your prayers.
Lynn Koukal says
Renee, your message is a golden nugget of wisdom for us to RePattern our thinking, and to fully embrace that our true security is in Christ alone, and His provision, which enables us to do all things in His strength and working power of The Holy Spirit’s consistent help.
New mercies every morning, peace and comfort promised.
And most if all hope and love in our journey of life here.
Child like faith relying and believing No one else cares for us like Jesus.
You will note by all the sound and encouraging responses you received, that you truly hit the core nerve of belonging to the Lord is “Life”
Thank-you, your words were a blessing.
Like a grain of sand, although small, my part may seem unworthy but is nonetheless. When we can come to terms to do what we are meant to, without feeling inadequate, we are accepting God’s gentle nudge.
Have a blessed day all,
Monty Stepura says
Philippians 4:13 was written on a 3×5 card taped to the inside of a notebook I carried all through High School. It has been a cornerstone verse of my faith for the very reasons you mentioned. Worry, fear and self-doubt were and often still find their way into the echo chamber in my mind. It is such an encouragement first to know that even at my age I am not alone and second that we have a Father in heaven who loves us just the way we are, broken and longing for wholeness that can only be found in relationship with Him!
Kathy Cheek, Devotions from the Heart says
I have definitely been my own worst enemy when it came to self-doubt and negativity about myself, but I learned as you did and wrote so well about today, we can break the pattern with the truth in Scripture, which is powerful in our lives when we apply it!
Connie Rowland says
Hi Renee, We all worry that we’re not good enough or that we won’t measure up in some way, but we CAN do all things through Christ, who gives us strength. Likewise, 1 John 4:4 says… greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. That verse always encourages my heart because I don’t have to be good enough, Jesus already is! Thank you so much for sharing this truth and for pointing me to God for strength in my moments of self doubt. Praying for you and all those who need this word from God today. May He lift you up and carry you through the worry and doubt!
Becky Keife says
I went looking for truth to re-pattern my thinking — yes! This is so good, Renee. I want to be a woman determined to look for Truth, trusting more in God’s Word than my own thinking or feelings. xx
Renee Swope says
Me too sweet friend. Every day. Every doubt. Truth changes everything – transforming us from the inside out.
Thank you for being so honest. I think most of us battle with negative thoughts. But the good news is that we have God’s word full of promises. Sometimes for me its not easy to keep away thoughts that are not bringing any good to my life and that causes me to get very anxious and depressed. But I thank God that even in the middle of my distress he comes and gives me his hand and tell me don’t worry Im always with you. Thank you for this devotinal. May God keep using you in wonderful ways.
Joey Rudder says
I needed this desperately TODAY as doubt as been swirling around me, suffocating me all week. But God began stirring something within my heart last night. And now, the sweet confirmations that come after the gentle whispers of God at night…truly there’s nothing like it. Blessings to you, Renee, and thank you so much for this post.
Beth Williams says
You hit the nail on the head with this post! So many women suffer from low self esteem, or psychiatric problems. The devil just loves to whispers those ugly thoughts & have us down & depressed. It takes effort to look up scripture & pray hard to God asking Him to help us kick those thoughts out! I find it easy to put myself down when things go wrong. You feel like a failure. We must remember we are not failures. We are created in the image of Almighty God. Calling ourselves those things also means calling God the same things. We should put on the full armor of God first thing each morning. Then we will be able to fight the flaming arrows of the evil one. Our mantra should be: “I am beautiful, smart, talented”. I am made in His image & nothing you say can sway me otherwise!
Sarah Walker says
Thank you for this article Renee. I completely can relate. God’s been working a lot with me on changing my thought patterns but some days I seem to need so much more help with it! My mind keeps running around in circles on thoughts and I find I need to be more on top of catching those thoughts and bringing them to Jesus. And not to own the negative ones as my perspective but to challenge them with truth, kick them out, and not feel defeated when they make their appearance.
This does seem to be a common problem so many of us share!
Rebecca Jones says
Such a great post, He makes us worthy!
Mariella Rivadeneira says
Rene, I rarely leave comments albeit all the blogs I read are phenomenal. This, however, is what I am rigorously fighting right now. Day in and day out. Fear and anxiety which come from negative thoughts (but hey, at least I recognize it now, right? that is progress, is it not?), from the “what if’s.” The constant fear that I will make a mistake which will result in failure (again). The inadequacy feel that I simply don’t measure up thus I will error and God won’t bless me, or worst- He will take my blessings away. It has been an exhausting battle. Renewing my mind… is the journey I have been on for several months. Thank you for your words. Thank you for courageously putting it OUT THERE for us to read. This is so encouraging.