I’m never one to just accept things the way they are; I am always trying to improve my surroundings with whatever I have to offer. Yet, in the midst of a tough year myself, I have experienced repeated failures in this area of concentration, as one idea after another of mine has been either shot down, criticized, or just plain defeated by bosses and colleagues. I entered the year with a great deal of optimism and excitement for quite a variety of new programs and ideas, and I now find myself with a lack of want to try anything else or try at pretty much anything at all because of the lack of complete success with my projects. One of the most destructive forces to imagination, creativity, and drive, is most definitely doubt. When we begin to doubt our efforts, we lose faith in ourselves and put a halt to many of our activities. This week, doubt had fully crept into my mind, as I found myself phoning it in and not even trying to make the most of me and my job. Similarly, I was recently talking to a family member who expressed some doubt over her actions, as some had criticized her efforts for this one activity. I told her of what I dub the 80/20 rule (some refer to it as a version of the Pareto principle), where whenever you try anything in life, 80% of the people will like or love what you are doing, but be very quiet about their feelings towards your actions. The other 20% will disapprove of your actions and be very vocal about it. Because of the silence of the majority and the chattiness of the minority, doubt tends to creep into our minds and we shut down quickly while our focus moves to that one or two people who don’t like what we’re doing when it should be on the majority who approve. As a crippling force, doubt makes us internalize the words of dissenters, echoing these words endlessly in our brains and putting a halt to further innovation and action. James 1.6 expresses the effects doubt has on us, likening us to water that is at the mercy of nature: “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” Ultimately, what is sapped from us through doubt is faith and courage. When we doubt, we become susceptible to the world and are thrown about without care, victim to the whims of the changing factors in our lives. We become timid, afraid of continuing our actions, thinking that anything further won’t succeed. The only way to overcome doubt is through a restoration of our faith. Sometimes, the encouragement of others can restore our faith. For me, I was lucky enough to receive the well-written words of an encouraging student’s letter this week, which reminded me of the impact my actions have on others. But we won’t always have others to lift us out of doubt. Then, only true, complete, thorough immersion in God’s word and a sincere devotion to His will for our lives will restore that flagging faith, and only then will we be able to conquer doubt and move forward. This week, be a source of encouragement to others who may be quietly suffering from doubt, letting them know that you believe in them. For yourself, dive headfirst into time alone with Him, and pray for doubt to lose its foothold in your life. Be controlled not by what you are unsure of but by what you are certain of. Amen.