I have been trying to decide why I don’t like the recent movement that’s been going around Facebook and the virtual world called “I Am Enough.” It has a very exemplary goal, one that is similar to what I very often speak of when I have a longer speaking segment in churches. Its goal is to help people recognize that they are worthwhile, they are valuable, even if they are not as beautiful, as intelligent, as accomplished, as wealthy as the next person, even if they’ve been told all their lives they’re not good enough. Isn’t that a lovely thing to tell people? Surely it is.
I’ve just realized today what it is that turns me off to this sort of movement thing. It’s that “I Am Enough” thing. I am enough? I am enough for what? I am enough for me? I have everything I actually need? If I just dig down deep enough into my own inner soul I will find out that I am actually all I need, everything I need? I can fulfill myself? I have the strength and power within myself to do everything I need to do and face everything I need to face, and all I have to do is believe in myself?
I have spent my entire life being told I’m not good enough (mainly by my own brain), and I have spent my whole life trying desperately to prove that I am. I have never strayed from God. I have never done anything particularly bad. I am a responsible, pathologically polite person. I am very intelligent (probably not a genius, which is frustrating) and creative and quirky, and by George, I think I’m interesting. I like my own company, and I try very hard to never give offense to anybody under any circumstances and never to appear irresponsible or unable to do what I should be able to do. Criticism (especially constructive criticism) flays me alive, because it demonstrates that I am not as good and able and responsible as I should be. I am supposed to be enough for everything that is expected of me. After all, I am The Missionary. The Good Christian. The Intelligent and Rational Person. I have been Called. I have so much going for me. I should be enough.
I am not enough. Digging deep inside myself to find all those hidden reserves of magnificence and power and stuff, I have found that under the intelligence and capability and proper behavior and interesting, creative quirkiness is actually a very small, naked, frightened person who’s probably about 5 years old and has no idea what on earth she’s doing.
Someone has given this particular 5-year old a job, and that is raising $6,213.92 per month for 3 1/2 years. Doing so in a timely manner will prove that I am good enough to go do an even bigger job in Europe. I have applied to this job all the considerable resources I have, all the intelligence and responsibility and courtesy and analysis and new-found public-speaking ability and creativity and love of missions and new web development skills and writing skills and story-spinning ability and the story of my call and personal development and my emotionality and my rationality and my personal contacts and love of baking, and found…I am not enough.
Thank God for that.
Honestly. Having to prove that you are enough is so stressful. Always trying to be invincible and impermeable and infallible because that is what you perceive is required of The Missionary (Itinerating Edition)–it’s exhausting. Constantly living in fear of the disapproval of the people who review your progress every month…
I am not enough for the task I have been given. God never intended me to be. He didn’t give it to me because I would do it perfectly and instantly. I think maybe He gave it to me to teach me this:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
God has given me many strengths that will be invaluable in the work I will do. He really has given me a calling that suits who He made me to be. But I am still not enough. I will never be learned enough or good enough or an efficient enough fundraiser.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
That’s the way it works, in those magnificent paradoxes that make up the Christian life. We are weak, frail, unable, fallible little creatures, and it is in our weakness, frailty, inability, and fallibility that the power of God carries out its work.
I am thankful for my strengths, for who God has made me to be. I am so thankful I can use them in the work He is doing in Europe. God’s creativity and kindness are revealed in them.
But I am learning to be thankful for my weaknesses as well. I am not enough for everything that life asks of me. Not sufficient. It is God’s grace that is sufficient and His power that is currently being perfected in my weakness. My weakness and lack of sufficiency and enoughness (new word; I invented it myself) provide a space in which God’s power works.
How nice not to have to be enough, not to have to fulfill all my needs all by myself. How nice to have Somebody Else to hand them to. (When I’m not busy taking them right back and cuddling them and pouting over them and worrying about them…) How lovely that the only Person I have to prove myself to is the only Person I don’t have to prove myself to.