I have a confession to make. I used to not only subscribe to but also promote one of the most popular phrases shared within mom circles, sold in every bookstore, spread in the most popular ad campaigns and encouraged by your favorite celebrities…and I was so wrong.
It’s a feel good message which makes it easy to believe that it could be meant to simply boost one’s self esteem or to deem one worthy of everything she wants in life, hence, attaining ultimate happiness. So, you do all the “right” things only to be left disappointed over and over again. Why? Because “You are enough” offered to the one needing a pick-me-up, is an empty promise. One that will never deliver. “You are enough” isn’t about self esteem at all. It’s about being sufficient. To be enough is to be all that’s needed for absolute happiness and joy. Telling another woman that she’s enough, is saying that the answer to everything lies within herself and it’s just not true.
Think of a time when you felt inadequate. Maybe you thought, if you just had more money, a nicer car, a nicer house, a prettier face, then you’d be enough. If you could just lose the weight, then and only then, would you feel the acceptance you’ve longed for your whole life. If you had those things, then you could hold your head a little higher in the presence of other women because they’d believe you were enough too. Sometimes being a grown woman makes you feel like a self conscious teenager all over again. Know what I mean? We’re told as adults to be content yet walking right beside the “finding joy in simple things” is the whisper of comparison that creeps in and tells us how to be enough and what we need to do to achieve it.
You’ll see the signs in the stores, “Do what makes YOU happy” or the “Be who YOU are”, “Be YOU” or the message we hand to our daughters, “YOU are PERFECT just the way YOU are”. While the intentions behind them may be good or to boost how the recipient feels about themselves, there’s something missing. The direction is wrong. The focus is misguided. The world will have you believe that you have the infinite power to achieve happiness and self worth all by your own doing. All by the way you believe in yourself. You are enough because you are strong. You can control your own universe. You can control your own destiny. So you try and you try and you stay up late obsessing over the latest trends of the internet and if you do this or achieve that, then you’ll be good enough, like they say. You follow and chase after dreams only to realize it’s not enough. You did everything right but it didn’t work so you try something else. We eat up the lies that taste so good going down. We chase after ALL THE THINGS only to be left feeling tired and empty inside. When the pressure of being enough is met with failure, we do whatever we have to in attempt to fill the void.
We lose the image of who God made us to be, not on purpose, but in the race of keeping up with the keeping up. The world tells us to be one way and the Bible warns us to be another. The world sets certain standards while God calls us to be set apart. While trying so hard to feel loved, to love others and to love ourselves, we forget who loved us first. Truth is, we weren’t created for ourselves at all. We were created for him.
Still with me? Because I’m here for this and I have the scars to prove it. No substance will cover the wounds enough. No material item will ever be enough. Sure, nice things feel good but no fancy car or magazine worthy house will make you feel like you have enough. No wardrobe or amount of makeup will make you feel beautiful enough. Not an endless supply of money, not a Starbucks in your hand, not even a flashy diamond on your finger will make you feel special enough. The most well behaved kids, the most amazing husband, the most envied body reflecting back at you in the mirror won’t solve all your problems. The people you associate with won’t make you feel like you’re enough. Achievements, whether they be shown through the abbreviations behind your name or the title in front of it, your degrees, your promotions, how many people you get to boss around or your status; won’t be enough either. None of it will be enough when you’re staring back at your tear streaked face in the mirror wondering why you still hurt, why there’s still problems, why all the things don’t make you feel better for more than a moment.
If you’re reading this, maybe you’ve struggled with feeling like you’re not enough your whole life. Maybe you’ve even been fed the lie from the mom culture today that wants you to believe you are enough all on your own, in any state you find yourself, just because. “You’ve got this because YOU ARE ENOUGH.” We build ourselves up only to fall back down because our foundation is built on ourselves and the things we think will make us be enough, yet in believing this we’re putting all the pressure on ourselves. We’re putting all the power in ourselves. If we believe that our happiness lays on the foundation of what we do, what we achieve, what statuses we hold, what we have, what we look like, or who others think we are; what happens when you have it all and yet it’s still not enough? What happens when you lose it all? One might argue this is simply a case of not having enough contentment or gratitude if someone finds themselves with everything and is still unsatisfied but I don’t think that’s quite it.
Miriam Webster defines the word “enough” as this;
“: occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations“
“: in or to a degree or quantity that satisfies or that is sufficient or necessary for satisfaction”
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t describe ME at all. In fact, I think I’ll just test it out for fun.
“I am enough because I fully meet the demands, needs and expectations of my kids.”
Sure, I do my best to be the very best mom I can be for them but I let them down sometimes too. So, this is FALSE.
“I am enough because I fully meet the demands, needs and expectations of my husband.”
FALSE. I let him down too.
“I am enough because I fully meet the demands, needs and expectations of my community.”
FALSE. I could be doing more to help where it’s needed.
“I’m enough because I fully meet the demands, needs and expectations of myself.”
NOPE. This one for sure is FALSE.
“Everything I am and do is sufficient in filling needs.”
Your turn. Go ahead and try that little exercise if you’d like.
Personally, if I agreed with those statements, I’d be lying. In actuality, I wake up each day wanting and trying to be kind to myself, to live by God’s word, to keep everyone I love happy but each and every day I fail in one area or another. Every day I let myself down or someone else. Every day I mess up. Every single day I fall short.
Somewhere along the way, we twisted “good enough” with “worth” and “worth” with “self importance” and this self importance is being sold to moms and women all over the place. This “self importance”, “self care” starts crossing over with “higher self”, “divine self” and a belief that you are in control of your own destiny. Self divinity. It fails to acknowledge that God is sovereign and that he is in control, not you.
To believe that “You are Enough” fails because we just simply are not enough apart from God.
And while I used to believe that what I thought about myself was truly the answer to feeling like I’m enough, God’s been telling me something different lately. Suddenly, the knowledge that I’m not enough is covered in grace and love rather than defeat and comparison. When I realized that my identity was in Him and not in myself, when I realized that my worth is promised in his love for me, not measured by whether people love me back enough or what I accomplish in this lifetime, I realized that it wasn’t about ME at all. More importantly, I realized that I’m not in control, God is.
I’ve gone from being alone to having my own family and still been unhappy. I’ve gone from financial insecurity to comfort and still been unhappy. I’ve gone from a tiny apartment to a larger home and still been unhappy. I’ve upgraded my surroundings and still been unhappy. I’ve lost the amount of weight you see advertised in infomercials, and have still been unhappy. I’ve pinned and planned and read and still not been the perfect mom or had the perfect kids. You see, even when circumstances appear perfect, even when we do everything we can, even when we achieve great things and check off the boxes and meet the expectations; there will still be uncertainty and pain in this life.
I will never be enough and that’s okay because it isn’t about me. It’s about God and his son and the grace I don’t deserve to receive, but receive anyways. God is enough and because he’s enough I am okay not to be. My shortcomings, my failures, the areas in which I lack, are all covered by the blood Christ shed for me. Thankfully God knew all along that you or I would never be enough on our own. Not in our motherhoods, not in our marriages not in our relationships not at our jobs or in the decisions that we make all throughout the day to be kind, and loving and to do the right thing. He knew we’d fail. He knew we’d hurt. He knew we’d hurt others. He knew we’d never have all the answers. He knew his world was broken and this is why he sent his son.
The truth: I don’t have to be enough and neither do you.
Be freed from the lie that your worth depends on what you do, what you have and the way others treat you. God is enough and with God I am better than I was when I tried to be enough without him. With God I am made whole. He puts my brokenness back together every single day as he picks up each piece and lovingly casts the shame away. When I mess up or disappoint someone or when I disappoint myself, he tells me I am loved. When I fall, he picks me back up. When I fail and don’t want to try again, he tells me I can because he is with me and I am his. I’m not perfect and I never will be and it’s okay, because of Jesus.
Sometimes I feel like walking with God is a whole lot like motherhood. How many times throughout the day do our children need us to reassure them they are going to be okay and so, we drop everything. How many booboos do we kiss? How many times do they want to give up at something but we are there on the sidelines telling them to keep going? How many times do we forgive? We love them so hard that it releases them from shame. We encourage. We comfort. We tell them that they are loved and we build them up when they feel torn down. We are their teachers, guiding them and showing them right from wrong. We sacrifice. We hurt when they do. Sometimes we’re even on the receiving end. We watch them make choices and see what the consequences ahead will be long before they can. I believe God gave us motherhood as a way to mirror his love for us, that we might experience it on this earth before meeting him face to face.
I want to offer you a little freedom today from a lie that I felt trapped in for years and that I too, had twisted the meaning of. Something that I wanted to believe about myself but never really could attain. Something that I tried to be or feel but no matter what I did or told myself, I’d still find myself feeling inadequate in the hard, quiet moments.
I am NOT enough. And you know what? It’s okay. It’s okay because ….
His grace will never stop putting me back together.
God doesn’t measure my worth, just as I don’t measure the worth of my child.
I am not enough but God is. And, well, he’s got me.
He’s got you too.
At the end of the day, that is enough and there is so much comfort in knowing it’s not all on me. It’s not all on you either.
I am not enough and I have never felt more free.