Have you ever been hurt by the comparison game? Yeah. Me too. We play it with ourselves when we look at our peers, role models, whatever and say “man. Why can’t that be me?”. And we become dissatisfied with who we are. We get it from others, too. From people who don’t love us the way we want to be loved or see us the way we want to be seen. And they’re both hard. It can be impossible to silence the voices telling us we aren’t good enough.
Tonight I listened to someone I care about more than almost anyone in the world rattle off a long list of all the ways I don’t measure up. And it sucks. I ran to God, looking for some kind of assurance that I was okay. Because it’s hard. I used to be so on top of it. I was a leader in church, in my sorority…I had it all together. And now I’m here, and it’s different. And there are days I feel so distant from the girl everyone expects me to be (the one I used to be) that I can’t even define myself. I wanted God to remind me that I am enough.
After all, that’s the mantra. That’s what the psychologists all tell me. The commercials, too. That I’m worth it, that I need to think about my needs, take care of myself, that I am uniquely gifted…all this stuff. The whole world is looking at me (and maybe especially me) and trying to tell me that the way to fight back against depression and inadequacy is to get excited about myself. To dig into all the ways I am special. And the church can be the same way. Telling me God has some awesome plan for me, and it won’t be hard. Telling me God wants me to prosper and be awesome. That’s what I wanted to hear.
That isn’t what God said. I came running to Him, and His word told me over and over again “you’re not enough”. Wow.
Even if you feed all the orphans.
Even if you preach the Gospel to every person you meet.
It doesn’t matter.
You can’t cut it.
But then again, this makes sense. We try to save the world from poverty and sell Jesus short. We try to celebrate Jesus and end up retreated into a holy huddle. We try to reach out and end up dragged deeply into actions and attitudes that pull us away from God. We seek to understand and get legalistic. We seek wonder and awe and end up theologically bankrupt. We aren’t enough (but then again Jesus never said we would be. He said He is).
It is so frustrating.
But maybe that’s the point. Maybe we’re supposed to need each other. Maybe it’s somehow good for us to work together, help each other. Maybe we are actually just little pieces of this great big body, and maybe our shortcomings are there to keep us from trying to do it all ourselves.
And maybe it’s to help us lean on God. To keep us from constructing yet another idol in our own image, or in the image of some other flawed creation.
Jesus is enough. I don’t want you to get confused while you’re listening to Klove, Walmart, MTV, Joel Osteen and Hollywood tell you what a special snowflake you are. You aren’t enough. That’s Jesus. Just him. Not you, and not the person sitting next to you who looks like they’ve got it all together. Jesus. And the best news? He’s enough to fill your gaps as well.
You want to get depressed? Think about yourself a bunch. Make every task you do, every goal you set about self improvement. Set out to fix the little annoying things about you. Celebrate your awesome traits. That will depress you. Your failure will be in your face every single day. Because it will never be enough. It can’t be. And the world gets incredibly lonely and incredibly stressful when all your energy is focused on yourself.
You want to get better? You want to have healing from the pain, from the isolation, from the failure? Make a big deal about the people around you. Figure out how you can help each other. Be honest with them, and let them do the same. Get interested in them (furthermore? it’s hard to be lonely when you are really and truly looking out for the good of somebody else. Yeah, it might be you end up across the table from someone who doesn’t seem to have any way to help you out…….but you’re not the point, remember? Also people surprise you). Even better? Make a big deal about Jesus. Be so excited and consumed by Him and the example He set that you start to realize just how flimsy you are in comparison. You decrease. He increases. That’s the design here.
The goal is to be small. The goal is to be a little, tiny speck of dust caught in the gravity of a huge God. And that runs up against everything I’ve ever been told.
But… the first will be last. The master should be the foot washer. The meek get everything. The hungry have food. Your enemy is beloved. The ache is the gift. To die is to be alive. Vulnerability is strength. The children will lead the way. The rich will fight just to get in on things…
Jesus didn’t see things quite like we do. And you know what? I can’t even pretend to understand everything. The only thing I’m sure of is that I am going to make some more mistakes. But every time I do I’m kind of surprised to find that grace looks really big when I am really small.