Finding the Joy in the Doubting

Written by Heather Perkins

“God never gives you more than you can handle”, “we suffer for the gospel”, “this life was never promised to be easy”, or how about “get over it, it could always be worse.” We hear these sayings all the time in our faith walk journey, and they are meant to help, but sometimes these sayings can bring us further down and make us feel worse in the long run. These words literally made my faith walk so low and depressed that I doubted God and doubted the point of going to church and believing if this was the life that I was meant to live. I would hear everyone talk about having joy in the hard times, and that they are joyful no matter what because God had their backs. I never could find the joy in the hard times. All I wanted to do was shut myself up and not care.

Let me start at the beginning. Over the past few years, I started realizing that I was in a pit and cycle that I could not seem to get out of. I had little confidence in myself and doubted if I was supposed to be an educator and if I was in the position in life that was meant for me. Now, do not get me wrong, there were a lot of great things happening, but I could not see them in the midst of other things. I had an amazing group of girlfriends that I never had before, had a full-time job for the first time where I got good benefits, a new house that I could afford by myself, a wonderful family who helped me when needed, and a good part-time job that provided extra money. God was blessing me all over the place, but I was still not where I needed to be. I was trying hard to keep going and finding my joy, but I kept asking God why I was not happy and joyful in everything. I just could not figure it out. Then, one Sunday afternoon in 2020, I got a message that changed everything for me.

My friend’s boyfriend messaged me her mother’s phone number and told me that I needed to call her. I will never forget that afternoon in Target’s parking lot. I called her mother, and she said that Melinda was dead. I honestly do not know much of what happened after that and for months, I was in shock and just could not wrap my head around what happened. I took days off of school and slept more than ever. When I reached out for help this time, I had some help me out a lot, but I also had a lot of people tell me that I just needed to move on and get over it. To be honest, that caused me to spiral at that point. I started asking God a lot of questions. Everyone told me something different, and the whole concept of death and life became a jumbled mess for me. I started really doubting God in the midst of all of this, and that doubt became anger and despair for me. I took a look around me and at everything going on, and I remember thinking that this is not what life is supposed to be like. I am not called to suffer for the gospel, I am not supposed to lose friends this young, I am not supposed to hate parts of my life that I know were God-filled and where God intervened to help me make this life I am building. My faith really was shaky at best, and I began to doubt God at every turn; the anger/frustration is something I cannot begin to describe. I put in application after application trying to make changes in my life but I kept hitting roadblocks at every turn. I knew I needed to make these changes, but I was getting more frustrated with God in the process because nothing was changing. (If you read my last blog, I started really listening to music around this time, and I started trying to make better decisions; music was my life vest at this point in my life.)

Then one day during VBS, a teacher whom I highly respect told me about a job opening at her school. Having known who the teacher was that I would be replacing, I knew that if I were to get the job, it would be a hard walk. I decided to take this risk and apply for the job. I mean, what did I have to lose at this point, right? I was unsure about anything with this job, but I was becoming desperate for something new, and the deadness I was feeling inside needed to change. God and I were not on great terms, but I decided to take this risk. At the time, I did not know if I wanted to ever teach secondary school; I thought I was just an elementary school teacher. Teaching secondary actually made me really nervous and uncomfortable. Was I good enough in music to teach music to the older kids?

When I pulled into the parking lot of the school, there was an interesting presence and feeling that overtook me. When I walked up and rang the doorbell, a man in shorts and a button-down shirt answered. He reminded me of a big teddy bear, smiling and full of good energy. It ended up being the principal who I was to interview with. I immediately felt peace, and I loved doing the interview. I left feeling good about myself and knew that if this was not the job for me, I needed to take a step back from education. It just felt so right. It was weeks before I heard anything back, and I started to brace myself for the next school year thinking it was going to be the same. Not to go into much detail, but things happened over the summer that led me to realize that I did not want to go back to the old job. I started praying and talking to God again. Even though I really doubted that praying at this point was going to make any difference, and I doubted whether God really cared about my feelings, I still prayed and made myself trust that God had a plan (the music was my saving grace). Remember, I was being told that we are supposed to suffer for the gospel, and it was on me to help the depression and hurt go away. I had to just get over it because my faith was not strong enough right now, which created the doubt that I had in God. I was still mad and frustrated with God, but I needed a change.

Fast forward: I got the call from my current school that I got the job, and I may have cried in front of the principal. Did God actually come through and was he being faithful to me even though I really doubted he cared at this point? In my doubt and frustration, I took the step that I was unsure of. I felt my hard heart start to change, and it was like ice was being removed from my whole BODY and SOUL. After I got the job, I started talking to God more and started telling him my doubts and frustrations, and it was like he was clearly telling me “I had this the whole time; it was my time not yours. You were right, you were never made to suffer. Even though you doubted and were angry with me, you still did what I wanted you to do.” I do believe that God used my doubt, frustration, and anger to lead me to where I am today. I got so desperate that I made the change in blind faith, but I did not know that is what I was doing. He placed music, people, and situations in my path for my greatest adventure yet. I still have issues that I have to work through, but I am now working through them in a healthy, God-centered way. I am not trying to do it all by myself. I would have never thought that I could love Music Education again, love teaching secondary as much as I do, lean on administration and my colleagues and working as a team toward a goal, developing relationships with students and working on creating a safe place for students to write, feel, and share what they are needing. I never thought I would enjoy being home with a cat to love on as much as I do, going out with friends when we miss each other, texting and calling just to hang, and hanging with family during fun times. The list goes on and on. You CAN find joy in the hard times and the struggles, but I have found this only happens when you are living the life that God wants you to live. It is like you know everything will be okay even though you are struggling.

Even in the doubting, frustrations, and anger, God can transform us and teach us amazing things. The problem is that a lot of times we do not take the risk, so in desperation, we make those changes, and all along God was there helping and shaping the next part of the adventure. It is not a fun road to go down, but sometimes these roads need to happen to get us to the point where God was wanting us all along. I have always said one of the best things that has happened to me is my friend’s death. Do not misunderstand me. I miss her so much that some days I just sit and cry. There is a giant hole in my heart and life that I cannot fill due to her passing. What I am saying is that her death started me on the road that led to my desperation and doubt so I would make important changes in my life. Now I realize that it did force me to ask the big faith questions and understand this life journey that God wanted me to take. It made me who I am today in the place I am today.

One Response to “Finding the Joy in the Doubting”

  1. Bonita Cadle says:

    Very powerful. Thanks for sharing.❤️

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