When You Feel Like the Caboose

Sharon JaynesConfidence in Christ, Expectant Living, Identity in Christ, Renewing your mind with the Truth 42 Comments


“…when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV).

My hands were clammy. Beads of sweat formed on my brow. A familiar knot in the pit of my stomach threatened to push me toward the restroom, and my dry tongue began cleave to the roof of my mouth. It was 10:25 a.m. In just five more minutes the dreaded event would begin.

When I was in the first grade, the one academic exercise I feared more than any other was the spelling train. It was sheer torture—at least for me.

“Okay, students,” Mrs. March would say. “Everyone pick up your chairs and move them over to the chalk board. It’s time for the spelling train.”

Twenty first graders slipped their munchkin-sized chairs from their desks to form a semi-circle around our chief engineer. I always put mine at the end.

“Now remember the rules,” she explained. “I am going to hold up a flash card. If you read the word correctly, you get to go to the front of the train. If you miss it, you have to go to the caboose.”

She held up the cards one by one, and the class chugged along at a quick pace. Dog. Sally. Bob. Spot. Red. Blue. Mother. Stop. Run. Then it was my turn.

“Sharon, what is this word?”

Pause. Giggles.

Well, more often than not I had no idea. And when that happened, I would either guess wrong or sit in silence. I spent most of my time in the first grade spelling train in the caboose.

As the year progressed, I did move up into the passenger cars a few times, but usually I didn’t stay there long enough to keep the seat warm. There was one particular word that kept me from ever visiting the engine: T-h-e. So Mrs. March decided she was going to help me. For two weeks, she made me wear a name tag that read “THE” plastered on my chest like the scarlet letter. I can still remember kids coming up to me on the playground, pointing at THE on my chest, and saying, “Hey, what’s that? Why are you wearing that? Is your name The? Are you stupid?”

Eventually I did learn how to spell the word t-h-e, but that’s not all I learned. I learned that I was stupid; not as smart as everybody else; and just not good enough. But you know what? That wasn’t true.

Those were lies from the enemy. And it took many years for God to hold me by the hand and help me see myself as He sees me: a uniquely created, dearly loved, completely forgiven, and totally accepted child of God who is capable of doing everything He has called me to do by the power of the Holy Spirit.

That was more than forty years ago, and now I have found joy in stringing written words together.[tweetherder] I’ve noticed that life has many unusual twists and turns when God is at the helm.[/tweetherder] He takes our greatest weaknesses and turns them into our grandest strengths. That’s what happens when we turn our lives over to God—we get out of the caboose and get to ride up with the chief engineer to places we never imagined possible. When we are weak, then He is strong.

Where are you in the train of life right now? If you’re hiding in the back, listen closely and you just might hear God calling you up front where you belong.

Let’s Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, it’s amazing to think of all You have done in my life. You have taken my greatest weaknesses and turned them into my greatest strengths. When I am weak, through the power of the Holy Spirit I am strong. Thank You for working in me and through me. And help me never to believe the lies of the enemy that say I’m not enough again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

What Do You Think?

Do you ever feel like you are in life’s caboose? Always at the back? f so, click over to my free living life resources and read the list of Your New Identity in Christ.

Now, leave a comment and tell me which three mean the most to you.

For extra encouragement on seeing yourself as God sees you, read 2 Corinthians 11:1–12:10

Want More?

Do you love a good story? I do! Stories tug at the heart and open the eyes to the truths of Scripture in a way only God can do. I have complied 100 of my favorite stories and devotions into one book titled, Listening to God Day-by-Day. It is the perfect book for a quick pick-me-up before you start your busy day or a sweet dreams closure before you turn off the bedside lamp at night.

And here’s some good news, this book is specially priced for the month of June. Get one for yourself, and we’ll include another free for you to share. It won’t show up on your receipt, but we’ll make sure it is included in your package.

And if you’re struggling with feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy, check out my book Becoming Spiritually Beautiful to learn how I overcame those inhibiting emotions in my own life.


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Comments 42

  1. I can so relate to this story.

    My 3rd grade teacher didn’t do a “train”, she just separated our class into 3 reading levels. BEST-They got to read whatever they wanted. AVERAGE-She helped them with the standard reading material. POOR-We were sent to a “special” cubicle in the back of the room, where we were to “learn how to read” on our own. That is where I learned to hate reading.

    All of us that were sent to the back of the room ended up taking summer school that year. Two of us ended up in special reading classes for a couple more years.

    From that time on, I did poorly in any class that involved much reading because I had bought into the idea that I was stupid & was never going to amount to anything so, why try.

    I thank God I no longer believe that I am “stupid”. I now know that my worth does not come from what I can or cannot do, it comes from the fact that I am a child of God & He loves me.

    The verses I chose are, Matthew 6:26; Romans 15:7; & Colossians 3:12.

    By the way, I now love to read & in fact, my pastor just recently had me, along with he & 3 others, read Psalms 119 to the congregation for a special Sunday morning service.

    1. I am a citizen of Heaven (Phillipians 3:20)
      I am forgiven of my sins. (1 John 1:9)
      I am now a child of God. (1 John 3:1, 2)

  2. I was always the caboose, in many areas.
    It has taken me and continues to know that I am Gods perfect person.
    Thank you for sharing

  3. this sounds like me and my feelings always feeling last in line. feeling left out unworthy and not respected but I always seem to suck it all in and move forward. I keep going on because I know theres a part of me that’s strong and determinded to feel better and get myself out of this jam. I know god is watching out over me. hes feeling what I may be feeling. god is here to make me strive more and keep going on. throughout all my hardships or feelings that come onto me.

  4. My experience was slightly different but the results were the same. I now know I have a reading disability but in 2 nd gr I just felt dumb. That lie kept me working hard to disprove it. What I found out about myself was that I had incredible inner strength and determination to learn on my own.
    While I thought I was stupid and ” less than” others, I was also striving to prove myself. An ugly combination. Most of my life has been letting God heal me of the lies I spent so much time focusing on. What freedom there is in Christ when we are set free. I still have a hard time believing God loves me just as I am, it almost makes me giddy. Funny thing now is that I love to read, and write in my journal.
    God has given me a sound mind. Now I get to use it for Him. Thank heavens He never gives up on us.

  5. “I am adopted by God. Ephsians 1:5” means the most to me. We adopted our daughter and the love we feel for her is beyond words, I can’t put it into words. It’s that big and powerful. So when I read that God adopted me….well it’s all good!

  6. I never felt like I was ever as good as others. I was teased in the fifth grade and felt alone. Even today I constantly look for ways to please others because of my need to feel I’m worthy. I volunteer to help with things at my church, one because I want to God’s work, but I have to admit because I’m looking for praise and acceptance. I work so hard and do more than many others, because of this need. When I don’t get the praise I was seeking, it makes me feel less a person and unappreciated. I know I have issues and I need to do God’s work to praise him and not expect anything for myself. I should only be concerned with his needs and wants. I should not be selfish and have the wrong expectations. I’m a work in progress and do thank God for my life and my many blessings.

  7. So many of the verses speak to me, I hesitate to chose just one; but, “I am born of God and the evil one (the devil) cannot harm me. I John 5:18” gives me strength in this moment. Love and Light of Christ…Andy

  8. It amazes me how prayers get answered. I was just talking to Jesus last night about how I have been lied to by the enemy since childhood, how I was never good enough,lovable enough,or that I didn’t matter to anyone and just faded into the background. Today Jesus had you send me this devotion to show me that I do matter, that I am dearly loved,and that I am precious to Him. I started reading your list of my new identity in Christ and I have read those scriptures before ,I started reading them normally and then I noticed that by the end of the list in my mind I was shouting those scriptures. Thank you, and thank you Jesus.

  9. First pick, 30 Hints to Becoming a Good Listener – well lets just say…..I have allot to work on. Second pick, Words Your Husband Longs to Hear. I am going to plaster this list in my brain and say all of them to him. I picked this one because my husband says soooooo many wonderful things to me all the time and I wanted to reciprocate more often to him. Third pick Don’t Quit – I have a big personality but very little self worth. Thank you for have all these list. I am going to print out each one of them and truly work on them individually. Thank you!

  10. Most recently I have been feeling like I’m in the caboose in life because my marriage failed, I didn’t recognize its demise and I didn’t realize I was being abused until the daily abuse was gone. As I write this I feel so stupid for not seeing any of this until it was too late. BUT then I remember “I am able to do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13, I am more than a conqueror through Christ. Romans 8:37, and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Romans 8:28”. I know the last one was not on Sharon’s list, but I say it daily – typically many times daily.

    Thank you for your post today Sharon, it made me stop in my tracks and think and remind myself of these truths. Praise God!

  11. All of my adult life I have suffered from depression. Sometimes not so bad, sometimes bad enough I needed hospitalized. Three years ago I tried to kill myself. I was ruled by fear, self-doubt, low self-esteem, anything bad and it controlled me. During my hospital stay for that I picked up the Bible and started reading it. Shortly after getting out of the hospital I gave my life to The Lord. It has taken me three years to believe I was chosen by God, holy and dearly loved, that I was valuable to God and accepted by Christ. Just a couple weeks ago I realized fear no longer rules my life, I like myself and the only opinion that matters is God’s. For the first time in my life I feel free to be me, with God’s help.

  12. I have always felt like the caboose and felt like I never was good enough in any area. I don’t know why we who lack confidence in ourselves seem to hear only the negative things people say or twist things said to make us feel we are worthless. I thank God for loving me and I try to remember that He is the most important thing in my life. Thank you for your daily devotionals, they are always encouraging. My favorite verses are Matt 6:26, Romans 5:9 and Romans 8:1

  13. I am valuable to God. Matthew 6:26
    I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3
    I am chosen by God, holy, and dearly loved. Colossians 3:12

    What an awful way to teach a child a lesson. Such an approach would not be tolerated nor permitted today. However, I LOVE IT that God used the very thing that challenged you to establish greatness in you … words! Yes, He works in mysterious and wonderful ways.

  14. my identity in Christ

    I am hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3

    I am holy in God’s sight, without blemish and free of accusation. Colossians1:22

    I am valuable to God. Matthew 6:26

  15. I am valuable to God. I am Christ’s friend. I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
    How awful for you that you had to endure such humiliation when you were so young! It’s a shame that teachers like that one don’t even realize the harm that they inflict with their actions. It’s teachers like yours who have inspired me to pursue my new career as a special education teacher so that I can be exactly the opposite of them.

  16. My New Identity in Christ

    I am valuable to God. Matthew 6:26

    I am free in Christ. Romans 8:2

    I am chosen by God, holy, and dearly loved. Colossians 3:12

  17. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came to give us life and life abundant and free….free of caboose trappings! Loved this devotion and I am especially enjoying your book “A Sudden Glory.” I am reading it with a girlfriend and we are having a great time talking about it. Thank you, Sharon!

  18. Oh Sharon, this devotion so spoke to my heart! As a child going through school, I so hated it because my reading was not what it should have been. Spelling something you might as well forget that. I was placed in remedial classes up until I was in high school. Talk about having a low self esteem. I hated school, because I couldn’t handle any of it. The Lord was with me through out all of that and I never had to take a grade over, although it may have helped me if I had. Anyway, during my senior year of high school I started dating a wonderful young man, who God placed in my life to love me in a way that no one ever had. He had a big job to do, in teaching me that I was not a dumb person, but that the way that I learned was different than the way they were teaching in school. This dear young man has been doing this for me now for over 30 years. There are still those feelings that come to the surface of not being able to handle something, but he is always there with me to put out those feelings of destruction. We’ve fought many battles together. I know that God placed him in my life so that I could grow in His love and to have the understanding of how much my LORD loves me unconditionally! You see this precious young man became my husband, and he does a great job of showing Christ in his love of me. In about a month and a half we will celebrate 25 years of marriage. The LORD has taken us to many places in molding our lives for HIS service. My Husband now pastors a small church in East Texas, and when I was in school if someone was to tell me that I would lead a group of women, and speak in front of them and point the way of the cross, I would have laughed at them. I may not have done well in school, but that does not mean that I do not have a purpose in working in my Saviour’s battle field. I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me! I can love people, I can make people laugh, oh how I love the opportunity to laugh with my sisters in Christ! I love your material and I teach it often. Thank you for sharing what the Lord has done in your life!

  19. I can so relate to this story, my testimony is just some-what similar, I was not a good student at all, always in caboose, hated school and studies, loved dancing and playing sports, my parents never allowed for that, cuz I came from an inteliigent family. Becuz my parents resented me from participating in any extra curricular activities, never got a chance to prove that I can do well in dancing and sports rather than academics. So all my class mates and school mates, used to put me down stating that she can perform in academics, what difference will she make in extra curricular, not ony that people oso used to call me ugly, good for nothing, but the Godspell reall changed my life. And the girl who got me into christ told me exactly the same as your blog today (fearfully wonderfully made in His image for his pleasure and Glory)
    I am born of God and the evil one (the devil) cannot harm me. I John 5:18
    I am of a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God to declare the praises of him who called me out of darkness into his wonderful light. I Peter 2:9,10
    I am able to do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

    Kalyani (India)

  20. I can relate, I was a good reader because I started reading at about age 4. But I had other problems in grade school. I had a hearing problem from birth but was not diagnosed until I was 13 years old. I was a Navy brat as well and that meant always being the ‘new kid’ in a class. I was teased so much and told I was stupid by a teacher all because I didn’t hear sounds the way everyone else did so I didn’t talk like everyone else. It took years for me to get over my childhood but by the grace of God I have come a very long way. I am now profoundly deaf and even with hearing aids don’t hear everything and I still ‘talk’ funny but because I know I am loved by God and my family and I am accepted as the person I am by those who matter, I find myself in a good place.
    The verses that I picked are: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil.4:13 this has been my verse for a number of years now; “I am citizen of heaven. Phil. 3:20; and “I am chosen by God, holy, and clearly loved.” Colossians 3:20.
    Thank you so much for Girlfriends In God. I thank God all the time for your articles.

  21. Always different~ always apart. That was my childhood. My problem wasn’t reading, I taught myself before kindergarten. I had to, because that was how I was able to escape.
    Escape being raised by a mentally abusive mother. In my books, I could be on an adventure, not trapped in a house with a woman who was so afraid to leave, she cleaned and cleaned until her fingers bled. In my stories, I could lead a life where I was beautiful and my closets were filled with the latest fashions. In reality, I lived a life where my mother had me wearing the same clothes for days at a time, and cut my hair off~ so short and choppy, strangers thought I was a boy. There are many ways to be a caboose~ and satan was having a great time, thinking this and many many worse indignities would kill all the joy and talent God had in store for me. Thankfully, this caboose found a God who would fight for her while she was young. There is a life saving freedom in knowing you are so special to the God of the universe. Knowing He has set me apart to be His has saved my life~ and being a caboose has given me a whole new perspective on the train that’s running before me. The caboose on the old trains used to be painted red, so it didn’t look like it belonged to the train at all. Sometimes the men on the back would throw candy to the cars and kids that were waiting at the crossing for the train to pass. We cabooses get to have a different “look” than everyone else, and God has given us some amazing talents to bless the world with because of, NOT in spite of where we are on the train. We just need to stop seeing and remembering ourselves as looking different in a negative way~ because satan wants to trap us in that desperate wa of thinking. I choose to remember how God rescued this caboose time and time again~ sending people into my life to speak Christ saving words. Orchestrating events to show me He was there in the darkest of dungeons. We choose to see our past as the dark, damp cell we were trapped in, or to remember the beam of light that streamed in through the window ans lit up a spot for us to sit and warm ourselves.
    I choose to see the light.

  22. My friend Jennifer came rushing to my house in the wee hours of the morning. I had discovered by his own confession after my youngest child told of his molestation. My husband, the man I thought God had blessed me with had done this evil to my precious child. Jennifer held me up when I couldn’t even think to stand, to breath. I am so grateful for her. I know God himself gave me the blessing of her friendship. She buddy breathed me through it all.

  23. Its not easy to find those friends… But God always send the right people on your path to encourage us. My friend Muneca, my best friend, always reminds me of God promises and faithfullness. Thank you for the great devotion

  24. My friend Darlene saved me from a depression. I love her and we are truly like sisters. I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina hit in September 2005 and my husband and I lost our home and jobs. We picked Orlando, FL to move to go take care of his elderly father. After 10 or 11 months of being incredibly sad, lonely, desperate I met Darlene. We had soooo much in common and really got along perfectly. I immediately was no longer sad. I embraced where I lived and remained close to all my family. So that is why I say she saved my life.

  25. I have a great friend that we hold each other accountable. We encourage each other to strive to all that God would have us to be. Reading the stories you provided each day, is such an inspiration to me and helps me through the day. God is good. All the time. Thanks

  26. My Friends name is Juanita.She has been a blessing fo so many years in my life.In my deepest and darkest moments of my life whlle being divorced, she would stay home with me and soothe me in my sleep. We are so attached to each other and we hold each other accountable. Would love for her to get the book. Thanks.

  27. Sharon you have God have such timing. This morning I met with by “breathing buddy” Linda for coffee. What a time of breathing into each others lives.
    You 3 ladies have had such a ministry into my life, and God always brings the right word at just the right time. Thank you.

  28. Totally feeling like the caboose today. Sometimes I think I will never learn the lessons that are before me. Thank you for you words of wisdom.

  29. Dear Sharon,
    Thank you so much for all the articles you have written. They have given me comfort as well as peace of mind. I know God guides your writing. If I could name a person who has helped a lot when I thought I was drowning in so much chaos around me, it would be you and your 2 friends who write with your site.
    Thank you, Love in Christ, Muriel

  30. I definitely have a very dear friend I would love to receive the book “Listening to God day by day” as a gift. We have been friends sine we were 10 and are now both in our early 40’s. We lost contact for about 12 – 15 years and were recently able to reconnect. The Lord knew we needed eavhother as we are both struggling to find our way back to God. I happens to find the Girlfriends of God website and have shared sit with her. We have talked for hours on the phone about what we have read here and our looking forward to discovering more.
    THANK YOU for taking the time for you devotions!

  31. I responded to this post but it is not on here so I will try to write it again. I have a different experience in feeling like a caboose. I had the nickname of caboose in our family once my mom re-married a wonderful man who was willing to take on a family with many kids. He was a widower and had a wonderful teenage daughter and they came to live with us. Because there was so many of us I always was the last in line and he would say, “Come on caboose” in a kind and loving way. He and his daughter were a blessing to our family. He has now passed away but the memories I hold of him never will. During their marriage they had a set of twins and I am one of the first set of twins from my own biological father.
    Thanks for your posts they are always a blessing.
    Joanie Kenning

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