Never Good Enough

Sunset in snowy Spruce Forest

Is there someone in your life that always makes you feel like you can never measure up? That no matter what you do or how hard you try you will never be good enough for them? Or is it a perfectionist voice in your own head that will not be satisfied? I know that this is not a syndrome exclusive to those in vocational ministry. Most people I have talked to about this have someone in their lives, even themselves, that they either strive to impress or have given up trying to be accepted by. I have some of those relationships too and I will be honest in saying that I perform a delicate dance between trying to earn acceptance and giving up the fight for it.

Talking to my hubby about this helped me put my frustrations and hurt feelings into a more healthy and biblical perspective. Don’t get me wrong, he let me have a good cry before diving into theology.

He said darling, you are not good enough. For the only thing that matters, you simply do not measure up. You were made in the image of God but you are stained. There is nothing that you can do to earn that away. It is by grace alone. And because you have been given grace you must extend it. Even when people treat you badly or when they hurt your feelings or when they make you feel like you aren’t good enough. Extend the grace that you didn’t deserve but were freely given.

Sound theological advice and counsel, given with love. But sooooo hard to put into practice! Not only do I have to extend grace when I self-righteously feel justified in withholding it but I have to find my peace, contentment and acceptance in Christ alone. Its counter-cultural and a battle of the flesh to achieve.

I didn’t think I could get this through my thick, sin permeated skull even though I knew it to be true. So I took some time to read the word and this is what I discovered:

  • Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness.”
  • Psalm 147:11, “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
  • 1 Peter 1:6-7, “In this [salvation] you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
  • Romans 2:29, “But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.”
  • 1 Corinthians 4:5, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”

The truth is that the Lord delights in me. ME! Sin stained, imperfect and never good enough me. Not because of who I am, what I have done or am capable of doing but because I find my delight in Him. I won’t ever be perfect but because I was adopted into the family of God by what Christ did on the cross I can rejoice. Not rejoicing in myself but in the God who chose me. Who loves me. Who knows I am not good enough but wants to know me anyways. Who loves me even though I constantly fall short of His standards.

And on days that you feel like you don’t measure up or when you are done trying to earn worldly acceptance, rejoice in the Lord. “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!’” Psalm 70:4

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Amish Envy

Admiring Niagara

They wear old-fashioned handmade clothes and they don’t use electricity. Owning cars is considered sinful and they opt for a horse and buggy because it is somehow more biblical. They are devout in their beliefs but do not spread the message of His great love to the world of ‘English’ outsiders around them. They seem secretive and are most certainly separate.

And I am intrigued by them.

The idea of abandoning my smart phone, permanently disconnecting my computer and moving away from the drama of our world seems idyllic. Like the families from the movie The Village, I think many of us long for a simpler time.

But what is most enviable about the Amish lifestyle is their sense of community – they seem to have succeeded in a way that the typical evangelical church has not. When tragedy strikes, the community shores up those afflicted in a way I have never seen or experienced. No questions, no strings and without being asked they come in droves. If someone is gravely ill they band together to cover medical expenses. If a home is consumed in a fire they rebuild it – together. While a family is in mourning, their farm and the funeral preparations are taken care of. They don’t pat themselves on the back for their selflessness. It is so ingrained in their culture that it is considered common place, it’s just what they do.

This is the part of the blog you would think I would complain about areas my church has failed me in my times of affliction or ways that I think the body could/should do a better job or won’t/can’t for this reason or that one. Instead I am going to confess that I need to do a better job of being a disciple in community. I need to do a better job and shoring up the afflicted and caring for those in crisis, regardless of the personal cost. When I stand before my maker I won’t be saying the church should have done this or they should have done that. It comes down to me and me alone.

It would be wonderful if the world simply slow and we could go back to an era of playing outside and porch swings. A slower, simpler life. Less consumption and more community. Fewer things and more people. But alas, I cannot control the world. But I can control me. I do have a role to play in how my kids grow up and how we do community. I won’t be making our clothes any time soon but I can slow our world a bit more. I can find ways to protect their innocence a little longer without isolating my children from society. I can be more mindful of which media enters our home and our children’s minds and hearts without abandoning all forms of technology. I can take a drive and show them God’s creation, celebrating our ability to reach it in safe convenience without doing away with motorized transportation. I can unplug for a while and teach them to appreciate silence, encourage our family to be content with stillness, something I struggle with myself.

And Mike and I can model community. Even at our children’s young age they can see us feed and clothe those in need. They can hear us share the gospel with our words and see us share it with our hands and feet. We can do better. I can do better.

But I don’t have to do it by candle light 😉