I've struggled my entire life with trying to be good enough. When I was a kid I tried really hard to do my best at everything I did but was frustrated that my best only measured up to being about mediocre the majority of the time, and in those rare times that I really excelled at something- there was always someone better every time, my best was just never good enough. Then I went through a rebellious time in my life and decided that if I couldn't be good at being good, then I was going to be good at being bad, yet I wasn't good enough at being bad either. Then Jesus found me in my brokenness and called me out and told me that I was good enough for Him; when I was choosing to be bad, He chose me to follow Him. In twelve years time He has been trying to break this "good enough" perspective I had about life and some days I get it, other days I'm not so sure.
When I was planning my wedding, I started packing on some serious weight in such a short period of time, which I was told was probably stress, but 30 lbs. in a matter of months. Anyway, I was diligent about exercising and dieting to try to battle it off so I could fit in my wedding dress and to stop gaining weight. I wanted to look good for my husband, although I knew he loved me anyway, still, who wants to be overweight? So I deprived myself of foods I liked, spent hours working out, yet the weight kept coming. I went to the dr. to see if there was something medical going on with me, but they couldn't find anything or any reason why I would be packing on so much so fast, so they attributed it to stress. Well that wasn't acceptable so I attributed it to me, I just wasn't working hard enough, I wasn't good enough.
When I was pregnant with my son I was working on my master's degree in counseling and I was trying to be an overachiever- I would accept nothing less than an A on anything I did. I was also an overachiever in my pregnancy, I was very organized, had the birthing binder all ready for the hospital filled with plastic sleeves and details of everything about how it was going to go down. Everything was going to go as planned in my mind there was no plan B. God had a plan B. Instead of the "normal" birth I ended up having to have a c-section. My baby boy spent the first 4 nights of his life in the NICU because of the c-section he didn't get the squeeze to his lungs that he needed so he had a little hole in his lungs- typical thing so I was told and assured that he was going to be okay. But in my mind I failed him, I was not good enough to be his mother. My plan was to nurse him but it was almost impossible due to him being in the NICU, all he wanted to do was sleep and he wouldn't latch on. I met with the lactation nurses and all the other specialists, trying to find a way to get him to cooperate. Also, I didn't seem to be producing enough milk, I couldn't pump enough. I refused to give up. I tried and tried until the nurses told me that he couldn't be released from the hospital because he had lost almost 1 lb. and they insisted that he would need to be supplemented with formula, I was told that I could feed him both ways. But in my mind I failed him again, I was not good enough to be his mother. But I loved him more than I ever thought I could love another human being. Many women have postpartum depression and resent their babies and the changes in their lives. I had postpartum depression but not because I resented my baby, but because I resented myself for not being good enough. I would pray to God why on earth would He let me have a baby when I was sure that there were better women out there who who would be so much better than me. I went to counseling during that time and was given the book to read "The Good Enough Mother". Counseling was very helpful to me to learn that I didn't have to continue to strive all the time to be the best, rather strive for excellence not perfection and to learn how to live to a standard of grace not perfect performance. It took me a long time to really understand what that meant and some days I'm still not sure if I get it because I feel like if I'm not performing up to par then I'm slacking, but what I do get is the freedom that is in Christ, that my best will never be good enough for Him and my worst will never be bad enough for Him because He loves me nonetheless. I feel that in my walk as a Christian- some days I'm spot on to what I should be doing and other days I'm totally flaking out knowing in the back of my mind that the people who see me on those days are thinking "she's supposed to be a Christian?" I hate that feeling and even worse I hate that my behavior is not always righteous. The upside to that is it does make it difficult for me to judge other people. I wish I could say that I wasn't judgmental at all, but I can't. But I can say that when I do get judgmental I get convicted fairly quickly, I put that stone down back on the ground just as fast as I picked it up because I know that there by the grace of God go I.
Why am I writing about all of this? Well lately I have not been feeling like a "good enough" Christian- yes, I know what I wrote up above about this, but sometimes it comes full circle for me. I guess I just feel like because I don't always follow the group and don't feel like I fit in, therefore, God does not accept me. If I don't follow a certain formula, if I don't do enough works, if I don't do xyz, then I'm not good enough for God and I'm not going to go to Heaven. Sometimes I sit back and I look at myself and my life and the patterns in my life since childhood and I think that there is something seriously wrong with me, that I'm impaired in some way. But then I look a little closer and I see how God has used me in my "impairedness" and wonder if I am exactly the way God created me. I have yet to ever lose weight, I've only gained and admittedly in the past couple of years I have developed a learned helplessness in that and haven't tried as hard as I used to lose the weight. But deep down inside in my soul I'm kind of at peace with that because when I was thin I was reckless with my body and extremely judgmental of people who were overweight that when I think back about it I don't feel very good about myself and just how judgmental I was. In fact, I was extremely judgmental about a lot of things that I'm not very proud of. When I was younger with my whole life in front of me, I thought I had it all figured out and I believed in the formulas, I worked hard at doing the formulas so that I could have a great life, i.e., going to college, exercising, dieting, working hard, etc.For example, you have to go to college to get a good job to have a great life. Yeah that didn't work out so much for me. Some days I regret that the formulas didn't work out for me and I ask God why it had to be that way, and then I rethink everything and wonder if I just didn't try hard enough, did I do everything I could do within my power? and I have to believe the answer is yes I did my best, but my best was not good enough. Other days I thank God that the formulas didn't work out for me because I am blessed with a different kind of insight that the reality is the "formulas" to life are really a crap shoot, they seem to work but the reality is that they only work about 50% of the time. It's easy for those that it does work for to brag about it, "well, I just did this, this, and this and this is the result I got", it's also easy for them to say to someone who the formula didn't work for "well you just didn't do it right or you didn't try hard enough", in other words "you just weren't good enough" (and I'm not criticizing and I can't fault them for that because I would do the same thing, who wouldn't?). And I'm not advocating to give up formulas, if they work for you go for it, what I'm advocating is to not equate those formulas and one's performance with salvation.
What if God really does love us all just as we are and really can use us just as we are? That no one could be too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, too rich, too poor, too active, too lazy, too smart, too dumb, etc. What if what He wants us to strive for is just Him. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived and he wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes that all these things that we concern ourselves with about life are really all meaningless, a chasing after the wind, so he concluded that the only thing that really matters is to remember our creator Ecc 12:13-14 "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." Jesus is our Savior during this time of judgment (because let's face it no one could keep the commandments, no one could follow all the formulas) if we believe in Him He will deem us "good enough". My fear is that what if I'm wrong about this, if I misunderstood what I've read in the Bible and my theology is off, then there is no hope for me, because I know what my best "works" are and I know that I will never measure up.