for when you’re not cut out for this

I hang up the phone and see I’m still shaking. That did not go well. More radio interviews line up every Monday in February. I’m not cut out for this. I try to distract myself with email and the laundry, but I can’t ignore my shaking hands and the sweat under my armpits, turning my pink shirt darker pink. Finally I sit, and try to reason it away. You’ve done countless interviews by now, why do you still get so nervous?

But I do and I wish I could talk myself out of it. The interview has been over for a full 15 minutes and I consider this blessed life I’m so thankful for but didn’t quite plan on, exactly. There’s no such thing as just a writer. You need to be a communicator in all aspects of the word – writing, speaking, sweat-less interviews. It makes me dizzy sometimes.

I’m not cut out for this. And even as I say it, as I say it, I hear the Lord whisper, No, you are not cut out. You have been placed in. He really said that, sure as the way I stumbled and uh’d my way through that interview. He reminded me I have been placed into Him. No, not cut out.

I am connected, sure, safe. If I’m looking to be cut out for something, confident on my own terms, standing on my own platform, unwilling to die? Life can be scary and tasks, daunting. God takes great delight in finding us in places where we don’t feel cut out to succeed. And that is where he sends his invitation of remembrance – that shaky, sweaty mess is a reminder that I am desperate to depend on a source other than myself. Success takes on a different shape there. It looks a lot like rest and feels a lot like freedom.

Have you found yourself in a role you don’t feel cut out for lately?


  1. says

    beautiful. most days i feel like my everyday roles are something i have to put on. mama of special needs kiddos, teacher, nurse, wife. . . none of them come naturally. they are a daily dying to the flesh, putting on of Him, and allowing Him to fill and fulfill.
    thanks for this timely sharing in my own life.

  2. says

    The *irony* here is that your interviews are around GFTGG (right?)–your story of how you’ve tried to follow the rules (so, perfectly?)–and it’s so beautiful how He keeps bringing us out of our hiding places where fear hunkers us down low, and He challenges us to choose courage to trust Him, that He’ll use us no matter what our weakness. And that’s the unbelievable grace He wants us to experience and share. Eh? {smile} And, it’s the grace receiving for ourselves to really See that He accepts us just. as. we. are. (sweaty armpits and all)

    Rich blessings as you See Him in how He guides you through the interviewing part and brings you out of the comfort of just writing.


  3. Holly says

    Just what I needed to hear this morning! I feel like I’ve been in a place of “beyond myself” for several years now, and today more was added to it! Thank you for writing so honestly; it’s been a great help to me.
    I’m almost finished with GFTGG, and I’m wanting to share it with so many of my friends! (It’s like a Good Girl Epidemic round here! 😉

  4. says

    Profound…being cut out vs. placed in Him. Since God said it I guess it would be profound. I’m glad you’re listening and talking (like doing interviews and stuff!) cause I got to hear what he said too.

  5. says

    I savor each of your posts. They come from a place so vulnerable, that I connect each time.

    There have been many moments as a parent when I was reminded that this job is beyond what I can do alone. Big times too, leading a mission trip, facing our second adoption from a second country.

    So, I take breaths and remember that these places so far outside of my ability leave me running for a saviour.

  6. Christa says

    Being the mom to five kids, four of whom are daughters, with their eyes smack dab on me all day long, and an introvert to boot, I often just want to crawl in a cave and hide. I definitely am not cut out for this, but I know that I have been placed in Him. When I remember to seek Him, He always shows me I’ve been with Him all along. That He goes before me, beside me, within me. He knows what I need long before I do. Thank you for letting us see inside, you are not alone.

  7. says

    I suppose this is the sort of thing Paul was talking about when he wrote about God’s grace being sufficient, His power made perfect in weakness. And it is so very, very true.

  8. says

    Oh, yes.
    Me too. Being interviewed is weirdly nerve-racking.
    But something Seth Godin wrote has been sitting with me for weeks that has greatly encouraged me.
    Seth said,”We want your humanity.”
    I love that.

  9. Jennifer says

    Yes. And yes. This parenting thing. I am not “cut out ” for it.
    My oldest turned 21 a few weeks ago….then I have an 18 year old
    and a 16 year old. All girls. And me this introvert. With these
    women children…who desire and demand to peer straight in.
    Yes… He has planned this. It has stretched me and in my daily
    weaknesses and imperfections I hide myself in Him . And there is safety
    and wisdom. Praises all to Him.
    Thanks Emily.

  10. says

    This was beautiful Emily. Something I needed to be reminded of!!! God has been putting me in positions that I feel not cut out for…how refreshing to hear that we are being placed into these places by Him and for Him <3. Thanks for being obedient even though you'd rather go and hide – its giving me the courage to press on <3

  11. Jenna says

    I struggle with having to make decisions as a leader. Once I make them I go back and overanalyze them even after the fact. :/ When I am tempted to say I can’t or I am not cut out for something, I refer back to Moses who told God he was not a good communicator when asked to go before Pharaoh and Noah who built a boat on dry land just because God told him too. At this point God hasn’t asked me to do something of that magnitude!

  12. says

    I have! Actually, I have felt lately as if I simply wasn’t cut out to be ME. Thank you for this post. I’ve been thinking a lot about your book lately. I have to admit I haven’t read it yet, but as soon as I can pick one up I believe I shall. Thank you.

  13. says

    Joni Eareckson Tada was at our church on Sunday. She said “Those that wake up ready to take on the world and ready to conquer it all are the ones who are truly handicapped. Those that wake up and cry out in desperation because they know that they need God to make it – are the ones He upholds. He is near to the broken. He gives them strength.”

    Sounds like you are right where He wants you.

  14. says

    I feel this way a lot of the time – but I am reminded “He is sovereign.” He can change this. He can make things different. He can. But He has chosen this. This is His Will. Thus I must be content with it – not basing my joy on the happenings in life, but on Him and Him alone.
    Lexie N.

  15. says

    And we love you all the more because you sweat bullets and then tell us about it!

    You could easily have swept it into the archives of your mind and no one would have known how hard it was for you. Instead, you brought it into the light because you cared more about helping someone else than you did about preserving an image. Seems like you’ve come a very long ways in your recovery from good-girlism.

    Love you! And you know I can relate.

  16. says

    that pretty much describes my sentiments as a mom. but through this mom journey, i have come to understand 2 cor. 12:9 like never before. his power is indeed made perfect in my weakness.
    every. single. time.

    LOVE this reminder from a. w. tozer:
    “we please Him most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good,
    but by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfection,
    and believing that He understands everything and loves us still.”

  17. says

    “There’s no such thing as just a writer. You need to be a communicator in all aspects of the word – writing, speaking, sweat-less interviews.”

    Thank you for encouraging me to continue to look to the Source who takes my inadequacy and turns it into something beautiful, for His glory.

    I’m not just a writer. I’m not just what I know I can do.

    I am more. Because He is more. And He fills me with Himself. And it is He who lives in me.

    Not just me.


  18. Wanda says

    Emily, words cannot articulate how you minister to places in my heart I am sure no one knows about and then I read your post and find glimpses and pieces of me woven throughout your transparency and I thank the Lord that He is the God who sees me, knows me, and loves me right where I’m at, just as I am. Currently my role is the Mom of a beautiful tween daughter whose body is changing faster than her little girl at heart is ready for. I am challenged because my own Mom didn’t really nurture me in my own tween years and I feel as though I was left to navigate waters no tween girl should navigate on her own. I am grateful I can determine to partner with my daughter and journey through this season WITH her, with Him as our guide. He assures me in His word that He will direct my steps and where He leads me I will follow. Thank you again for GFTGG; I continue to rejoice in what I am discovering in the pages of that book. God Bless,

    • says

      Congratulations Wanda. Today yours is the comment that has made me cry…being the mom of the tween girl who has a body changing faster than her little girl heart is ready for. Oh! This! I remember those days as a girl. And now I stand by and watch my girls (who are only 8, but growing way faster than should be allowed) grow, grow, grow. I love what you say here, that you are partnering with her and with Him. You are not pushing or pulling, but you are with her. What a beautiful picture of Abba love. Thank you for sharing that this morning. So much.

  19. Rebecca says

    That is exactly what I would have said, if I could have figured out how to say it:) Practically overnight God has been bringing women into my life asking me serious questions, sharing the depths of their hearts, and me still feeling small and unknowing answer with fear and trembling. What is this thing that God is doing? Not being cut out but placed in. Thank you for that. I needed the reminder.

  20. amanda says

    yes, this!


    I am right there in the not cut out for this place – exactly where He wants me to be today. Your words speak truth. Thank you!

  21. says

    oh man. my job. i work in the most competitive, cutthroat place. and i am quiet and not equipped (according to my calculations). yet, He landed me right in the middle of my own nightmare. in the past few months i have been ready to run for the hills and hide. and i feel like He is making me stay for a reason. so i’m doing the exact opposite of what feels comfortable. and i guess i’m going to use my voice to shed some light on this dreary place. good girl takes on a new role/ meaning for me. should be interesting. and if nothing else, will make for a hilarious blog post some day. i can picture them now, laughing their heads off at the water cooler…

  22. says

    I’ve recently started traveling for research, and having people look to me for answers. I’m being given things for my research, like trips and conferences and laptops. And all the while, I think, “Don’t they know?” Don’t they know that I’m just a poor kid from a broken home who’s greatest hope would be to graduate from highschool without getting preggers? I can’t even fathom how I got where I am. Through no great gifting or skill of my doing, that much is sure. I like how you said it, that I’ve been placed. That has never been more true.

    • says

      Don’t we all feel this way, in some area of life? If only they knew…How familiar that is. Non of us are qualified are we? Thank you for sharing a bit of your story.

  23. says

    Oh I love this! As I was reading what you wrote, I thought, “Gee, I’d love to do an interview sometime- that wouldn’t make me nervous at all! What fun that would be!” And then I kept reading. And wondering….ok, what is the thing in my life that I’m not cut out for but placed into? Surely there must be something.

    And then I thought back over the past couple of years. Of how I’ve encountered experiences as a mother of adult and almost-adult children that I never thought I’d have to endure. During those times (and they are still fresh on my heels with a major event this past December that rocked me) I was always telling myself (and God) “I can’t do this. I’m not cut out for this. I’m not going to make it if life continues with the pain as it is. I can’t endure any more.”

    Now I see that on my own and by myself, I was in no way, shape or form cut out for the nightmare I was living through. God placed me in a position to be a lifeline for a child that stretched me, stretched him, and grew my faith in God beyond the borders I had placed on it. I can look back and see that I was definitely placed in – it wasn’t a situation I would have asked for, but it is a situation that showed me God.

    And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

  24. says

    I needed these precious words today – thank you! Yes, I live in a world now where I know I’m not cut out for it. A world that ministers to homeless, abused, and the addicted. I ask God often what were you thinking when you called me here. My heart breaks over and over, I have nothing in common with these people – not by no means that I’m perfect, but that I just haven’t walked in their specific shoes, and not to mention that fact that I don’t know what I’m doing. Girl – thank you! I’m breathing.

  25. Vicki Casey says

    Wow. I have been a musician in church for most of my life. When asked to play now, I say I’m retired. I explain that although I have the talent and skill, I’m just not cut out for the performance/spotlight/upfront thing. It makes me nervous and tense. You have opened my eyes and my heart to see that its just as God wants it to be with me. In Him. Not cut out. Amazing and life changing.

    Thank you from a 57 year old who’s still learning and growing.

  26. Tracey says

    Not feeling cut out for any part of my life today. God knew I needed to read these words. Praying for you as He equips to do whatever He calls you to do.

  27. says

    Boy, I know that feeling! You give a great perspective here: I should see that shaking mess as a sign that I need to rely more on God, instead of a sign of my own inadequacy.

    I am loving, loving, LOVING your book, by the the way! It is showing up so many dark corners in my own soul that I have never seen before, and bringing me such joy and peace :)

  28. says

    i was searching for the ‘not cut out for’ role, silly me! oh this, this ‘thing’ we’ve been transitioning to for 1.5 years…moving overseas and asked each time we meet someone new as we share our story ‘so, you are planning to live there??’ ‘well…’ we say ‘as long as the LORD wants but we may never live back in the STATES.’ And all of those courageous missionaries that took on governments, regimes, slums & disease…I feel none of that mold and only the small and crippled and a live that I can’t trade for it’s the one where I KNOW I need Him. {as an aside, amidst the beautiful truth, thank you for de-mystifying the writing&speaking gig. I think anyone who would call that their dream somehow thinks it will be a ride on top of the world, or maybe just chronically-idealistic me;} and I am praying for you right now!

  29. says

    I need this so much today. Thank you for being real and transparent and encouraging!

    Yes, I have found myself in a role I don’t feel cut out for. I wrote a bible study and had to also “speak” it at a women’s conference. I do not speak, or so I thought. It seems God had a different plan. And this quote I so understand: “There’s no such thing as just a writer. You need to be a communicator in all aspects of the word – writing, speaking, sweat-less interviews. It makes me dizzy sometimes.” I thought I just signed up to write, but I have found it so true, you must write, speak, etc.

    Not only does He ask me to speak, which is terrifying enough, He then tells me to go deeper and put myself out there more than is comfortable some times. I think to myself: “I just still want to hide. Lord, why must I expose me when others get to wear the mask?” I haven’t read all the way through your book yet, but my bible study was on God’s covering and wearing masks. I must depend on Him when His task for me is daunting! Yes.

  30. says

    I sweat every time my four yr old asks “why” or I have to correct my almost two yr old daughter for throwing her food off the tray for the umpteenth time. Putting my foot down and claiming the morning as “potty training day” makes me sick at my stomach and thankful that there is an extra diaper stuffed in her diaper bag when I back down. :)

  31. says

    Emily, what a beautiful post. I love how you put this line – ” God takes great delight in finding us in places where we don’t feel cut out to succeed.” what sublime writing. You are right, God does love to hold us in places were we feel overwhelmed, he whispers gently, ‘My child, I love you, I am holding you, I am there, you do not need to be afraid.”

    As a tv producer, it has often been my job to prepare people for live radio or tv interviews, or to prepare myself. One thing that I find helps me every time, is before the moment, to sit quietly, close my eyes, and see a colour that soothes, for me that colour is usually an aqua or a pale blue, sometimes I see the ocean, and hear the waves lap on the shore, but as I see that colour, I breathe deeply, inhaling and exhaling. As I breathe my breath says YHWH, he is there intimate and transcendent all at once, he is our very breath, he is that close to us. This silent breathing prayer, brings him to the forefront of my mind, and I know then when I open my eyes, and begin whatever I have to do, that He is with me, He is closer than close, he is my very breath. Maybe you might find this technique helpful.

    I am sure you were wonderful on the radio – trust me, when you think you have messed up, you will be surprised at how powerful what you said actually was.

    Thank you for this post today.

    May God smile on you,

  32. says

    I’m 24 weeks pregnant with our first child. I’ve never felt less cut out for anything in my life. I panic when I feel little flutters of her moving about – she’ll be here in a few months and and 12 short weeks after she is born I will go back to work full-time and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING. *deep breath* God placed me here. I long to find rest and freedom in dependence on Him.

  33. says

    I did my first-ever (and still only) live radio interview from my office at work, and my hands were shaking so badly beforehand my officemate freaked out and asked if I’d ever been tested for Parkinson’s (she’s just seen a documentary on it the night before and kind of had it in her head). I came clean and confessed that I had to do a radio interview and was terrified out of my mind.

    So yeah, I hear you on the I’m not cut out for this. It’s painful…but humility is good sometimes, isn’t it (that’s what I tell myself anyway).

  34. Zoe says

    That’s a real tough situation. I agree with you, we are not cut out but placed in whatever we are doing. Maybe feeling doubtful is God’s way of reminding us of the road he set for us.

  35. all shall be well says

    Hi Emily,
    I watched some of your interviews on line, and you look so calm and sincere! I cannot tell you how your insights and your book have helped me recognize so much of my ‘good girl’ tendencies!

    I have so felt like I am not cut out for dealing with issues in a lot of relationships lately…….. but of course He knows that, My verse for this year is Psalm 100:5, which has been a lifeline.

    Thanks so much.

  36. Rachael says

    Isn’t it funny how important things wait until you most need them?
    Cleaning out my inbox this morning, I came across an old post of yours that a friend sent me last September. Clicking through to your site, I read your latest post…and realized that it has been the ache in my heart for the last few days, months, years. Sometimes blaring obnoxiously, sometimes a whisper, but always “You’re not cut out for this,” the job I have. What was God thinking in all His omnipotent wisdom, placing me in a position where I’m supposed to encourage and minister to others, when I can’t even keep a smile on my own face?
    Thanks for sharing. Thanks for speaking up…quietly. Thanks for reminding that we can only take one step at a time, with Him, in Him.

  37. says

    I so get this! I teach in front of groups and my knees shake but everyone knows it comes from a real place and I don’t wear a mask. They hear the passion from my belly even though I shake my head at how I worded something, fearing I got in God’s way. Lately I’ve been lifting my small contribution up to God and asking Him to make something of my mess. I try to leave it there.

  38. says

    The moment I saw the title of your post I knew this was meant for me. Okay, it was meant for alot of other ladies too, but I have been feeling so “not cut out for this” today (certain aspects of my work). This devotional dated Feb 2 also helped me today….here’s a quote from it that I loved that reminds me of your last paragraph….
    “Paul’s words have to do with our being made servants of Jesus Christ, and our permission is never asked as to what we will do or where we will go. God makes us as broken bread and poured-out wine to please Himself. To be “separated to the gospel” means being able to hear the call of God (Romans 1:1). Once someone begins to hear that call, a suffering worthy of the name of Christ is produced. Suddenly, every ambition, every desire of life, and every outlook is completely blotted out and extinguished. Only one thing remains— “. . . separated to the gospel. . . .” Woe be to the soul who tries to head in any other direction once that call has come to him.” Oswald Chambers

  39. says

    Oh, Emily, this one speaks volumes! I spend so much time feeling like I’m not cut out for *insert pretty much anything here*. He’s brought me to places I only dreamed of and several I would never even have imagined!!! I’m finding that truly giving it all up to Him gives freedom and peace. I know He will equip me for WHATEVER He needs me to do. When we succeed in areas are aren’t “cut out for,” He gets the glory!!!

  40. says

    You have summed up my day perfectly.
    As a special education teacher of junior highers, it is one challenging job. Today was not a good day, and I left wondering if I’m cut out for this. I know God uses me in the life of my kids, but there are just some days I just want to throw in the towel. Thanks for sharing this, it’s good to know I am not alone in these feelings and to remember He is our strength.

  41. Anna says

    Well, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen/heard of you in interviews! You’d never know you weren’t cool and calm… Because of what you’ve written, I’ve imagined you do these things depending on Christ in you and that’s encouraging and fascinating and gives glory to Him.

  42. Dee says

    Oh, how I have been encouraged by reading this beautiful, vulnerable post and the very real comments of women on the journey. My role that I’m not cut out for? Teacher. God called me to bring my 6, 7 & 8 year old little ones home for school this year and may I just say it has been the biggest faith walk I’ve experienced yet!! I am NOT cut out for this at all. But, I know His call was clear and knowing that He has placed me here to do this job is one thing, but trusting Him to equip me and tuning out all those other voices …is a completely other thing! This is a post I will come back to often.

  43. says

    Your words have been so encouraging lately, Emily. I come by often and I don’t comment as much as I’d like. Your posts are so sneaky sometimes, because they hit me in ways I’m not expecting and I love it. With a heading like “When You’re Not Cut Out For This,” I think I’m going to get a little wiser about what I could do instead of things God is doing in my life, or how to find out if I’m not cut out for something, but rather, God shows up and speaks calm and Peace into my life, over and over, showing me that I don’t have to fit the mold for every experience and role and every leg of the journey He has for me. I know He’ll place me how and where He sees fit. Thank you for reminding me of that. I’m blessed to see how you share your moments of your journey with this community.

  44. says

    So thankful for the Word being spoken through you! I’m preparing to be a new wife and new teacher, exiting the college world and singleness. I’ve definitely felt like less than enough. Being a good girl my whole life, I’m just now coming to understand “Trust in the Lord with all your heart”… and it’s refreshing to hear your words and remember that I will never be enough or perfect. Thank you for speaking truth!

  45. says

    Emily… this post brought tears to my eyes. Lawyering is so hard for me – I tell myself every day “I’m not cut out for this” – but this hit me like a ton of bricks. He has placed me here for a reason, doing what I do for a reason – that He knows and He is sure of. Thank you for the reminder.

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