Overwhelmed and Under-Qualified

Overwhelmed Writer

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drewcoffman/4815205632/

“Hit send! Hit send!” Michael enthusiastically peered over my shoulder.

On January 9th around 1am, we finished the first draft of Real Men Don’t Text. The flood of emotions of turning in your blood, sweat, and yes, tears, in the form of a 52,000 word document was exhilarating. Was this really happening? Are we really turning in our first book to a REAL editor at a REAL publishing house? We couldn’t stop smiling.

But 12 weeks ago . . .

I was panicking.

After we signed the book deal, it was suddenly like I couldn’t write. I would read over what I’d written the day before and cringe. I started to panic. I bought 12 NYT bestselling relationship books from Amazon, made a writing schedule that commenced each morning at 5am, but honestly felt a little like I fooled everyone. Was I even a good writer? Could we write this book . . . together? I thought about how I didn’t even have the faintest notion of how to write a book. I couldn’t find any how-to book on writing a co-authored relationship book and Michael and I quickly felt like we were in over our heads.


I woke up each morning at 5am to write, and at first all that would happen is I would go on Amazon and read other people’s brilliant words and crawl into a deep hole of insecurity. Then I would write a few sentences, check Facebook, heat up my coffee, write a paragraph, think about all the emails I hadn’t replied to (sorry friends), find the perfect song, and then jolt from the couch because I was still in my pajamas and I have a day job. Not exactly the glamorous writing process I’d imagined.

In between panicking that everyone had made a terrible mistake about me and wanting to crawl in a hole thinking about how vulnerable I needed to be in order to make the book effective, I slowly strung sentences together. I prayed God would show up and pour words through me onto the page.

I would delete whole pages of text, but then write a few poignant sentences and feel victorious.

Sitting there in my chilly living room, I would remember the pain of bad relationships—the moments I felt so forgotten and unlovable—and the words would come.

Slowly, those stubborn words did come out of hiding.

One morning in particular, I felt so underqualified to write a book that I just closed my computer and stopped. Stopped writing, brainstorming, stressing, reading, and outlining. I knew others who’d be trying for years to get the attention of an agent, and I’d only been writing publicly for a little over a year. Did I have what it took? Would our book even sell?  I felt God reminding me that while we couldn’t write a life-changing relationship book—He could.

Last week, I was reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson (btw giving copies away on Friday!!) and listen to what he said:

I felt under-qualified and overwhelmed, but that is when God has you right where He wants you. That is how you learn to live in raw dependence – and raw dependence is the raw material out of which God performs His greatest miracles.”

Relief. I was right where God wanted me—because if Real Men Don’t Text becomes a wildly successful bestseller, we won’t be patting ourselves on the back, we’ll be praising the God who made it possible.

If you are someone who reads the Bible, you’ve probably noticed a pattern. God intentionally and consistently calls the most under-qualified (and at times overwhelmed) people to do His work. Maybe it’s because He wants us when we hang our hats on success the only natural response is, “Only God”.

It was never about Michael and my ability. It was always about seeing miracles. Because if you know anything about the publishing industry, we aren’t qualified. Exactly where He wants us?

In what areas of your life do you feel overwhelmed and under-qualified? Could it be that it’s exactly where God wants you?

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10 Responses to “Overwhelmed and Under-Qualified”
  1. Ericka says:

    Ruthie, I am not the best writer or speller so forgive my grammar and writing abilities. I am pursuing a photography career that I really feel like God has called me to do. I do believe he has given some type of talent for it. I feel SO Unqulaified for this and SO not ready. I am waiting patiently for this all to come to fruition and after reading your post I became encouraged. I felt myself hoping if those words that author wrote are true then I can still find the joy in this process of waiting. Thank you for being a writer. Thank you for allowing God to cultivate this time in your life because all of us readers are learning from it and are being encouraged to do what God has called them to do.

    -Ericka :)

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Wow, Ericka. Thanks for sharing that with me! I’m excited to see how your photography dreams turn out–send me a link when you have your website up and running;)

      • Ericka says:

        Ruthie! Thanks for responding :) my website is ErickaValles.com. It’s still being tweaked a little but it is up and running. praying for you and what The Lord will do through you with your book! :)


  2. Meg Murray says:

    Write (pun intended :)) on! Amen, guys!

  3. Maggie says:

    School. Just that. School, thinking of careers, grad school while I want to really start my life away from school. But what you wrote does make sense.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Maggie, even if it doesn’t apply to you right now, it might eventually. I think all Christians are called in some form to step into uncomfortable areas that require faith.

  4. Ashlee says:

    Writing, for sure. I think of giving up at least once/week. Of shutting down my blog and pursuing some other gift. But then I’ll be inspired to say one more thing, write one more post, and it remains.

    Thanks for sharing this. It really spoke to me this morning!

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Ashlee! You are such an amazing writer. Glad you are sticking with it, even when it isn’t easy. I seriously read every one of your posts and I’m not a crafter, a cook, a photographer, or a mom! That’s saying something about your voice and ability to craft sentences. Write on!

  5. Priyanka says:

    Thanks Ruthie so much for honestly sharing your struggles and doubts.
    Just like you I too write and journal all my thoughts and emotions and questions to God. As of now I write for myself and to my Father…maybe someday I’ll be able to share like you :) I did sign up for a blog but haven’t posted anything as yet.
    But right now its not writing that makes me feel overwhelmed and under-qualified…its my current job. I thought I’d be a good accountant but my 1-year working experience is making me realize that I may be good with numbers but not with finances. And it doesn’t interest me either. I haven’t figured out what to do next but until then I have to stick with this.
    The quote from the book you were reading just encouraged me. I’ve always envied people who seemed to know it all and have everything figured out and so appeared independent and capable. But I think I prefer to live on raw dependence on God rather than being independent.

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