Hope Was Enough

I was enough rockDuring three seasons of life, I have struggled with the topic of “Not Enough.”

Because I was raised in a perfectionist legalistic culture, it seemed I was never enough for God. Markers of spiritual maturity included how many people we could convince to become Christians and how efficiently we used our spiritual gifts.

This focus led to evangelism by guilt and service by exhaustion.

While in college, I met a group of students who shared love and joy with me. As I learned about God’s unconditional love, the old lies began to fade. Soon, I realized I could not earn my way into God’s heart, rather I had been gifted with a first class ticket.

Jesus was enough. Therefore, I did not have to DO. Rather, I could just BE.

The second “Not Enough” season came in the post-divorce years. Like most women whose marriages end, I tried to rationalize why it happened.

Was I not pretty enough? Skinny enough? Smart enough? Did I not pray enough for him and for our marriage? Did I not submit enough? (another leftover from legalism).

After several years in therapy, the “Not Enough” voices rode off into the sunset. A failed marriage is not one person’s fault and multiple factors can lead to its finality. Therefore, if I did not cause those circumstances, then I could not be responsible to fix them.

“Not Enough” became “Start Over and Embrace Life.”

In this current season of grieving, I again face the demons of Not Enough. As the grief process edges away from the shards of pain and into the emptiness of loss, I wonder if I was enough. Although I know false guilt is one of the side effects of grief, still – the questions persist.

Did Deb know I loved her? Did I say it enough – show it enough? Was our friendship so deep because I needed her? Did I give back enough of what she needed? Did I do enough for her at the end? Did she know I was there, praying she would wake up and start laughing? Was I enough?

Several weeks ago, I attended a spiritual retreat in the country. Being in God’s front yard is always life-giving for me – walking in rhythm with a floating monarch, crunching autumn grass under my feet, petting horses and dogs, stroking a plant. I always feel “enough” within the worship of God’s creation.

Our spiritual exercise was to choose a rock and write an affirmation on it – to remind ourselves to delete the negatives and nurture the positives.

I like rocks. They remind me something in this life is sturdy – dependable – unchanging. Within seconds, I knew what my affirmation would be.

The rock now sits on my windowsill, but I may move it to the memorial I built for Deb – Colorado river rocks at the base of her metal wind machine. I may plant the rock in a sturdy base to remind me of truth – to chase away forever the “Not Enough” lie.

A simple statement. A visual reminder of the following truths:

*In my spiritual journey, God is enough. Leave the legalistic expectations behind.

*With past failures, learn from them and underscore that I gave enough. I did what I could. Let it go.

*In grief, respect the process and nurture the memories. Receive the truth that none of us is perfect. But as we persevere to love others, the attempt is what matters.

I stroke the rock and wipe a tear.

I was enough.

©2017 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

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Hope Beyond the Just

musing-girl-silhouette-1122905-mLast week, I met another creative who said, “I’m just a beginning writer.” I understood what he meant, of course, but I wondered about that little word “just.”

How many times do we use “just” to describe ourselves, not realizing that in the process – we are embracing shame.

“I’m just a beginning writer.”

“I’m just a housewife.”

“I’m just the receptionist.”

To be authentic persons, I believe we should eradicate this use of “just” from our vocabulary.

None of us are “just” anything and when we put ourselves down, we throw ourselves into the trash bag of a “less than” mentality. Any type of emotional trash bag will suffocate us.

“I’m just” is another way of stating, “I’m not enough.” Not rich enough. Not smart enough. Not accomplished enough.

And when we shame ourselves, we become our own judge by comparing our worth to another person.

God never shames us. He never says, “You need to be like that person over there.” Instead, he promises he has a good plan for our lives, for each of us, based on who he created us to be.

Sure, we creatives strive to learn more about writing and become best-selling authors. That’s one of my goals. But even if that never happens, if my words touch ONE heart, if even one person finishes my books with a lesson learned or a nugget of joy intact – that’s success.

Being a housewife, keeping the home operational and raising the children is one of the highest forms of work because it influences the next generation. Just a housewife? Not possible. Wouldn’t it be more uplifting to say, “I am so privileged to be a housewife.”

Anyone who works in an office knows the receptionist is the first line of defense. This important person schedules the daily activities, keeps everything going smoothly and greets customers with a smile. He or she may not earn the salary of the person in the corner office, but just try operating a business without a front office person. “Just” does not begin to describe the value of an efficient and welcoming receptionist.

So instead of thinking of ourselves as “just” anything, let’s look in the mirror and say, “Hey there, Wonderful! God has a good plan for you today, and you’re the only person in the world who can do it. You are enough. March forward with hope for an even better future.”

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Image attributed to www. sxc.hu.