When I was younger, I was obsessed with doing well in school but one of my reasons for doing so was tragically off. Having the brain injury that I do, I was very aware of how difficult it made my mathematical comprehension. I was still very solid in my humanities and language learning, but the math deficiencies always loomed over my education. So I became borderline desperate to do well in all other areas of school just so I could bridge the distance to where I was weak. I had the completely mistaken notion that if I could just be perfect in other areas of school I would be “normal” or at least an average student.
The problems with this line of thinking are fairly obvious, and when it inevitably failed me time and time again, I was always hurt. Once again, I had come up short. Once again, I wasn’t a normal student. But into that melee of emotions, my parents were a constant. Always picking me up, always dusting me off, always encouraging me to try again, and never treating me less because I hadn’t achieved some warped idea of normal that I’d set out for myself.
That permission from my parents, that reassurance that I was loved no matter what, is such a beautiful reflection of a much bigger love.
We are absolutely obsessed with being enough. Think about it. It permeates just about everything in our culture. We’re constantly being told “If you just XYZ you will finally be enough!” We look for the new routine, the new plan, the new whatever that will help us finally be enough. We know we want to be enough, but it’s always just out of reach.
That desperation to be enough is a prison.
But the same way I had my parents to hold me up when I couldn’t be the student I wanted to be, God has a plan for this greater need to be enough. The gospel is absolutely foundational on our inability to be enough on our own. Where our story ends with falling short, God’s start with pulling us up. The harsh reality that we can’t be enough is always met by the joyous news of what God wants from us.
Us. God just wants us.
As usual, we have it all backwards. We’re not loved because we’ve finally worked ourselves into being enough. We’re loved in spite of our inability to make ourselves enough. For all those moments when our attempts to be enough fail, God is always waiting to pick us up and dust us off.
This of course is not permission to fart around and behave however we want to. Not by any means. This is not the opportunity to say “It’s all good! God loves me anyway! I can do what I want!” Far too many already make this foolish mistake and the consequences of such behavior could fill several books.
This is instead permission to matter. In spite of all of it, your shortcomings, your failures, your idiosyncrasies, your inability to make par, you are allowed to matter. What’s more, there was never a point at which you didn’t matter. You always have and always will be worth it to God and that will always make you enough.
To be worth it is to truly be enough, and God has very much declared you worth it.
One of the most beautiful notions of the gospel is the personal nature of it. So often, we look at it through the idea of the masses, the idea that Jesus came to save the entire world. And while he absolutely did come to save as many in the world as came running to him, that wasn’t his minimum requirement. You could scale back the millions to thousands, the thousands to hundreds, and the hundreds to a handful and still Jesus would have taken up the cross. You could leave just yourself on the chopping block of sin, just you, and Jesus would still look at you and declare you worth it. If you are worth it, you are enough.
You are enough whether you are in a group of ten or standing alone.
There is no scenario in which Jesus looks down from the cross, meets your eyes, and says “You’re not worth it.” He wouldn’t be a savior otherwise. You could be the only person standing there And Jesus would have still endured all the agony in the world to redeem you. You are worth it, and that makes you enough.
At the end of the day, the slogans, the sayings, the routines, the plans, they are a fleeting promise that will leave you tired. You cannot work yourself to being enough, but you can accept it. God has looked at you and declared you worth all the trouble in the world. Rest in that, and live well.
Let’s find some joy,