If you are like me there are days when the answer to that question is a half-hearted “maybe” followed by a large question mark. Then there are the really bad days when the answer is a definite NO. Those are the days I need to remind myself to follow these instructions: “(Breathe in) I am a child of God (breathe out) and that is enough”.
Why do we sometimes doubt that we are “good enough”? I can think of a few reasons. I have come to believe that sometimes are good at telling each other, and ourselves, that we fall short. We can be really good at tearing each other down when we should build each other up. In the beginning of the Scripture that is shared by Judaism and Christianity we are told that God looks at what has been created and says it is very good. Someone, I think it was Matthew Fox, has suggested that despite everything that comes after that first chapter of Genesis this original blessing has never been withdrawn. So we are good enough. Why is that sometimes hard to believe?
One reason we may doubt we are good enough is something called ‘Imposter Syndrome’. This shows up in that little voice which tells you that you are not qualified for or capable of the task in front of you. Maybe you think you are a ‘post turtle’ as a joke I often see online says about politicians. In full blown effect it makes you convinced that people will find out and you will be ruined upon exposure as an imposter. Imposter Syndrome denies that word of God telling you that you are enough. Imposter Syndrome speaks against the truth that maybe God has led you to that place and is speaking through those who gave you the job. A cure for Imposter Syndrome is to remember the practice: “(Breathe in) I am a child of God (breathe out) and that is enough”. More training and practice help too, but we need to tend to the spiritual injury it causes as well.
And then there is the big one. We often feel we are not good enough because lots of voices tell us we aren’t. Sadly we often find it easier to point out those times we each have failed, or done something wrong than congratulate each other on our successes. This leads to guilt. And in excessive amounts guilt leads to shame, and shame is about how we see ourselves. Guilt can help us see a person who does some things wrong, who sometimes fails. Shame, especially in excess, can lead us to see a person who will never be good enough, who can not do anything right. It can cause a paralyzing injury. The way to cure this spiritual injury is grace. Grace is what reminds us that we are beloved children of a loving God. Grace reminds us that what we are, while not perfect, while still growing and maturing, is enough.
To be honest, this second spiritual injury is one of the places I take issue with the historical church. Historically I think the church, or more specifically some people in the church, has often been more interested in reminding people that they are imperfect,’sinful’, beings who can not measure up to some idealized saintly concept of good enough. There is a story I once read of a broken woman who was asked if she had tried the church. Her response: “why would I go there, I already feel terrible about myself?”. The church she described was forgetting the cure. As people of faith we sometimes need to remind each other where we fall short. As people of faith we ALWAYS have to remind each other of grace. We always need to remind each other that simply because we are part of God’s creation we are good, we are enough.
To some this may be a question of theological priorities. To me it is life and death. Those times when suicidal or self-destructive thoughts seep into my soul they ride the carriage driven by the voice saying “you are not good enough”, the voice which tells George Bailey the world would be better off if he had never been born. To remind each other that we are ‘good enough’ may well save lives. Good enough does not mean perfect. It means enough. That is what Christ says. Jesus never asks people what they did wrong. Jesus says “you are forgiven, stand up and walk”. Jesus says we are good enough. So when the days get too hard, when you wonder if you are good enough, remember to: “(Breathe in) I am a child of God (breathe out) and that is enough”.