Embracing Inadequacy to Find True Strength
In light of the New Year, I was thinking through how we as humans thrive on fresh starts, new beginnings and reset buttons.
There is just something about January 1, that moment when the the clock strikes midnight that’s exciting! Magically, this year, all our goals really will be possible!
We want to be better.
We want to eat better. Look better. Be a better parent. Spouse. Have a better business or career.
And we want to be more.
More patient. More loving. More skinny. More of a “good person”.
I think we really just long to be perfect.
A month ago when everyone was writing New Years resolutions, I sat down and mulled over 2015, and tried to come up with a sentence that would inspire 2016.
But there was only one thought that came to mind. One piercing thought, as I thought of all the things I wanted to do, and needed to do, and all the unknowns ahead of me- the thought was,
I am completely inadequate!
That sounds depressing doesn’t it? I mean that’s not the typical inspirational blog you want to read. “I’m Inadequate and So Are You! Sorry!”
But the thing is… it’s actually true.
And contrary to what you may think – that thought is not a depressing one. It actually fills me with so much hope, and joy, and deflates the ever-filling bubble of pressure to be perfect!
You see, no matter how much I try,
I will never be as patient as I want to be to my little son.
I will never be as loving as I want to be to my husband.
I will never be perfect.
No matter how many twenty-something New Years that I write a resolution to DO better or do more or BE better or be more.
The definition of inadequate is “
I’m definitely not sufficient for the tasks I have, and the hats I wear, and the roles I play as mom and wife and friend and sister. I get frustrated over the littlest things on a daily basis. It would be embarrassing if I detailed even the last 24 hours for you, and the ways I handled things wrongly in the moment, or said a rash word.
Contrary to today’s popular message,
I AM NOT ENOUGH.
How do you feel about that? Does it make you uncomfortable? I know, you probably want to give me a hug and tell me it’s ok. You wonder why I’m being so hard on myself. You want to give me a pep talk.
And I appreciate your motives because you care about me, and your heart’s desire is to lift my spirits.
But we have got to stop saying the wrong thing to each-other. We have to address this misplaced and misguided encouragement we so often give each-other.
The world boldy asserts, “You are Enough.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have been bombarded by this message by well meaning people.
And it sounds good …. we like to think we are strong. We like to think we don’t need anyone. We like to think that we are Enough.
But it’s Just. Not. True.
And if it isn’t true, then it isn’t good. So really, it’s not true and it’s not good to say or believe.
The statement “You are Enough” is a bit vague, but by reading multiple blogs on the subject, I have attempted to break down the thoughts and attitudes meant by this statement, and then share with you what I’ve learned on these subjects from the Bible.
Three Reasons Why We are Not Enough
- We are not strong in our own strength
Take a look at what Paul says in his letter to the church at Corinth.
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (emphasis mine)
The message, “You are Enough” says that you don’t need anyone else’s strength. You’re amazing just the way you are.
But in these verses Paul is basically saying, hey you’re not in the kingdom of heaven because you’re awesome, or strong, or amazing. In fact, you can’t put any confidence in yourself or your achievements. The only thing you can do is boast in what Jesus did on the cross and what He accomplished for you.
2. We are not worthy based on our own accomplishments
Now let’s take a look at what Paul wrote to the church at Philipi, in regards to his old identity and merits before he submitted his life to Christ.
“…though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” – Philippians 3:4-9 (emphasis mine)
Basically before Paul’s conversion, his “resume” was the best it could be. He had all the religious merits and accomplishments that people around him longed for. He was considered a very important guy.
But Paul says all of his accomplishments were RUBBISH.
The message, “You are Enough” says You are worthy based on what you’ve done and your accomplishments.
But Paul says our accomplishments are RUBBISH. He says he never achieved his righteousness from obeying the law. What does matter is faith in Christ.
He points out that no matter how amazing our achievements, no matter how zealous we are, we are completely inadequate to present ourselves to God on our own merit, all the “amazing things” we think about ourselves don’t matter at all.
Paul didn’t revel in himself “being enough”. He counted all things as loss.
Can you imagine Paul, while he was in prison, receiving a reply letter from one of these churches saying, “Dear Paul, thank you so much for the letter. We know you’re struggling, but take heart. You are Enough.”
How ridiculous would that be?!
3. We are not good
Let’s look at a few verses that describe our true condition…
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” – 1 John 1:8
““None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”” – Romans 3:11-12
The message “You are Enough” says we are perfect just the way we are. That we are a good person. But these verses say apart from Christ, we are sinners, unrighteous, not good. Our human condition under the curse of sin is truly pitiful.
We are not good, but if we have put our faith in Jesus, we are MADE good by His substitutionary death.
So from those verses we understand that we’re not strong in our own strength, we aren’t worthy based on our own accomplishments, and we aren’t good.
But unlike us, Jesus is strong, Jesus is worthy, and Jesus is good.
Jesus is perfect and completely adequate.
By resting in Jesus’ adequacy on my behalf , I get my strength each day.
As 2 Corinthians 9:11 says, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
If we were Enough, we wouldn’t need Jesus. And that’s the scariest place you or I could ever be. We are not Enough. But – praise God! – Jesus is. And in the shadow of His cross is the safest place you or I could ever be.
So that is why I get so filled with joy when I think about how inadequate I am – because immediately I have hope knowing that Jesus is more than adequate to make up for all my inadequacies!
And in that knowledge I can walk forward in life filled with real power and real strength. Because He never fails me.
Inadequacies in my parenting – His grace is near.
Inadequacies in my marriage – His forgiveness is sure.
Inadequacies in doing all the things I have to do – His grace is sufficient.
Do you see how pointing to Jesus being Enough is such a better response?
If your New Years resolutions included being more and doing more and hoping that “You are Enough” to accomplish your goals; and you feel that pressure and burden – take that yoke off of yourself, my friend.
Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light. For all who turn from their sins and put their faith in what Jesus did on the cross – paying the penalty for sin that we deserve, there is that great exchange!!
My sin for His righteousness! My weakness for His strength!
And as believers, yes we are called to passionately pursue holiness, and to fight sin. But it’s never about adding to our own merit, but rather obedience and worship to the precious Savior.
So the next time a friend reaches out to you and tells you they just don’t feel like they’re enough, put your arm around them. Give them a little squeeze, and say something like,
“You know what you’re right. You’re not enough. And neither am I. But Jesus is, and how amazing that we can both rest in that.”
If this blog encouraged you, PLEASE let me know in the comments below!!!