Do you ever get overwhelmed with how “not enough” you are?
- Not patient enough with my kids
- Not thoughtful enough toward my spouse
- Not impressive enough at my job
- Not (fill in the blank) enough
I could go on. I’m sure you could too. I don’t sit around thinking about all the “not enoughs,” but it seems that every so often they grab the microphone in my head and refuse to let it go. I’m in the middle of it now. Everything looks fine on the outside, but on the inside (where it clearly matters most), I’m feeling very not enough, specifically, not joyful enough, or not happy enough, or something like that. Ever been there?
I have a normal life: wife, kids, job, mortgage, bills, trash day on Tuesday, pesky weeds in the flower beds (not metaphorical weeds in metaphorical flower beds, literal weeds in literal flower beds…well, metaphorical too, but mostly literal, I hope), old tires on an old car (again, mostly literal).
So why am I feeling like joy is lacking in my life? Everything should be fine, right? Most of us are fine. Our lives are good. Even if you’re going thru something pretty tough, we all know that it could be worse. So when we experience the “not enoughs” that inevitably sneak up on us, shouldn’t we just push them aside and quote some Bible verses or sing the chorus of Bethel’s new song over and over till we feel better? After all, we’re seated in Heavenly places, we’re more than conquerors, we’re righteous in the sight of God, we’re co-heirs, we’re royalty. Receive the love of God and snap out of it, right?
Wrong. No. Don’t pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Don’t act like you’re fine. Don’t clench your teeth and snap out of it. Don’t try harder.
Just sit down for a second. Sit down. Sit in the discomfort. Sit in the not enough. The first step toward health is not declaring your perfection, it’s accepting your imperfection. Culture begs us to project flawlessness. It’s a facade. It’s not real. But it’s unfortunately true that perception (and projection) becomes reality.
Sit down. But don’t stay there. Allow yourself to be honest with yourself. Invite a few close relationships into your mess. Address your not enough. Express your feelings, don’t suppress them. What is triggering the feelings? What is really going on? With the help of the Holy Spirit and close friends, get to the bottom of it. Simply declaring that I am a joyful person doesn’t make me a joyful person. My goodness, can we stop declaring who we are while living in opposition to our declarations? If alcohol puts you to sleep every night, you need help. If you hate your body, if you can’t stand your neighbor, if you don’t love, forgive, celebrate, mourn, etc, then you need some help. Be honest with yourself and your not enough.
Sounds like a grim task so far, and again, being honest, the task is grim. It’s tough. Your road to health may be a quick mindset change, or it may be a thousand miles of potholes and speed bumps. There are many tools and pieces of advice to help you on your unique journey, so let me leave you with just one immensely important rule: be kind to yourself.
Be kind to yourself. We are all our own worst enemies. We all beat ourselves up. Don’t do it. Be kind, especially to yourself. Realize that you’re not alone. Realize that Jesus is happy to sit in your not enough with you. Jesus didn’t raise Lazarus right away. Jesus sat in the sorrow with his friends. He allowed the not enough to be present so that His “more than enough” could win the day. Rest in Father’s love. Even if it’s hard and feels distant, invite Him in. Know that you have a Father who isn’t ashamed or embarrassed by your scars and scabs. He made you. He knows you. He loves you.
Listen to the song Be Kind to Yourself by Andrew Peterson. Play it for your kids, but hear the Father sing it over you. Get some tissues.
You can’t expect to be perfect
It’s a fight you’ve got to forfeit
You belong to me whatever you do
So lay down your weapon darling
Take a deep breath and believe that I love you
Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself