I’ve been struggling lately with feeling like I don’t measure up. That I’m not enough. I hear Travis and the grandparents having so much fun with Emma and I feel like the most boring, uncreative mom ever. I act cold and unforgiving toward Travis and feel like the worst, most unenjoyable wife ever. I spend my days worrying about laundry, dishes and unwritten blog posts while others are struggling with cancer, death and finances, and feel like the worst Christian ever. Weeks and months pass without a prayer, text, email or phone call to friends and family, and I feel like the most self-centered person ever.
What to do with thoughts like that? In the past, those thoughts would have plunged me into a downward spiral of self-pity and I would end up lamenting that I suck at life and will never be the person I want to be.
I am still often tempted to go there.
But I’m learning to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” instead of just letting my emotions run rampant and drive me into the ground. So these days, when I have thoughts like the above, I stop and think. And it has been in thinking about what the godly reaction is to those thoughts that I started pondering a question:
Does Christ’s work on the cross make me “enough / good enough” OR does His work make it okay that I’m not “enough / good enough”?
You might consider it only semantics, but I think it’s an important distinction – and I believe God’s glory is at stake.
There are 2 things that I think are erroneous about saying, “In Christ, I am enough”:
- It puts the emphasis on me, instead of Him.
Saying that I’m enough in Christ uses Him as a way to bolster my self-esteem. While I do wholeheartedly believe that I should embrace and rest in who God has created me to be, that doesn’t mean I turn a blind eye to the ways that I sin, fail and fall short. Instead, I can be honest about where I need God’s sanctifying power, and pray for God to accomplish in me what I cannot accomplish myself.
- It removes my need for constant dependence on Christ.
Nothing drives me to my knees in prayer faster than feeling insufficient, or “not enough”. If I have the mindset that I’m enough in Christ – that whatever I bring to the table is acceptable – my main motivation for walking through each day in dependence on Christ has been removed.
My flesh naturally bristles at hearing “I am not enough.” It’s not surprising, considering how the human race wants so desperately to earn our salvation through works instead of just accepting the free gift of God through faith in Christ. We want to be enough. We want to be sufficient.
But “grace permits us to come (nay, demands that we come) as empty sinners to be blessed: empty of right feelings, good character and satisfactory record, with nothing to commend ourselves but our deep need, fully and frankly acknowledged. Then grace, being what it is, is drawn by that need to satisfy it, just as water is drawn to depth (by gravity) that it might fill it. This means that when at last we are content to find no merit or procuring cause in ourselves and are willing to admit the full extent of our sinfulness, then there is no limit to what God will do for the poor who look to Him in their nothingness.” (We Would See Jesus by Roy and Revel Hession)
So what do I do in response to these self-pitying thoughts, combined with the truth that I’m not enough?
I don’t stop caring about these things. I want to love and serve others.
I don’t stop desiring sanctification. I want to grow in Christ-likeness and show God to be the radiant, glorious God that He is to this world through how I live and act.
I don’t try to improve myself on my own. Even though I yearn for sanctification and groan to put on my heavenly dwelling (2 Cor. 5:1-4), I know that I am fully dependent on “him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to [His] power at work within us” for transformation (Ephesians 3:20).
I don’t focus on how I’m doing compared with the “standard”. Satan wants to keep me preoccupied with my own performance, instead of looking to Christ and His work.
I DO repent of my sin and selfishness, trust God to change me, and focus on what is now possible in my life through Christ’s death and resurrection.