Not good enough: Finding freedom in the midst of our faultsSep 09, 2020
As an adoptee, I’ve spent many an hour wondering about nature versus nurture. What traits have I inherited? What have I learned from my environment? What makes me who I am? In other words, who do I have to thank—or blame 😉—for me?
These questions became even more poignant as I began having children of my own. I love seeing bits of myself and my husband in them… usually. Other times, I see things I don’t love about myself, and I worry that their struggles are my fault.
Did I do this to them? Is God disappointed to have more people in the world like me?
Not good enough
Those questions plagued me for years. And the more time and attention I gave them, the more paralyzed I became—as a parent, as a writer, as a Bible teacher, as a person. I felt incapable, worried I was always doing the wrong thing, certain I was never doing enough to make up for my obviously huge shortcomings. No matter how I looked at it, I always came to the same conclusion: not good enough. Convinced that I was a huge disappointment to God, I longed for ways to make it up to him.
And that, my friend, is quite a weight to carry.
I hope you haven’t been in quite that spot… but can you relate at least a little? Have you ever felt not good enough? Have you ever worried that God is disappointed in you? Have you ever wished you could just be… different?
Know where you came from
Several years ago, when I was at the deepest point of struggle with this, I came across a verse that changed everything. I had read it dozens—maybe hundreds—of times, but it suddenly took on a whole new meaning. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).
Did you catch it? Do you see the significance? We were created in God’s image. In HIS image, not our parents’. We are made to be a reflection of him to the world. And yes, we are human and sinful, so the reflection can get a bit cloudy. But guys, he made us in his image. And he calls his creation good.
God saw “the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). He saw you—all of you, everything you would do, every day you would live—and he said, “Yep, I want that one.” He isn’t sorry he made you. Of course he is saddened by our sin, just like we earthly parents are saddened when our own children make bad choices and mistakes, but he isn’t caught off-guard or suddenly regretting his decision.
GOD LOVES YOU. Even when you mess up. Even when you make a choice you regret. Even when you think you’re not good enough. Even when ______________________. However you fill in that blank, my friend. He loves you.
We aren’t good enough… but he is
Let’s be brutally honest here, folks. The reason we often feel like we are not good enough… is because we are not. We know that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). On our own, we are not enough, and we cannot “make it up” to God.
But there’s good news—actually, the best news: We don’t have to earn our way in, because it has been given to us freely! Christ’s death on the cross covered every single sin for those who believe in him. Our debt is paid. John tells us, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). We can stop trying to muscle our way into God’s family and rest in the freedom that we are already fully welcomed in and fully loved.
Just stop here for a second and take in that truth. You don’t have to be good enough. You don’t have to earn your way in. You don’t have to make up for your mistakes. The price has been paid. You are loved because you are a child of God.
Flip the script
We all have strengths and weaknesses. Of course we do. And just like I want to encourage my children to learn and grow from their mistakes, I want to do the same.
What if we also took a few minutes to shift our perspective? To look at the up side of the so-called negatives?
I’ll give you an example that is oh-so-dear to my heart.
This cutie right here is stubborn and wants so desperately to be independent. Trouble finds him a little too often because he insists on doing things his way, by himself. And I’m sure that will continue.
But I am incredibly thankful that he is driven to learn new things and be autonomous. He is part of a population that has to fight to be seen and heard and valued, and he is ready to make it happen. Those traits—as much as they can drive a mama crazy—will serve him incredibly well in life. IF we help to shape them in the right ways.
As with my example of Joey, it is often easier to see how this works with our kiddos…
- A child who is “bossy” might actually have great leadership skills.
- A child who is “shy” might be a great listener and deep thinker.
- A child who is “messy” might be creative—or just better equipped to handle the chaos of life.
And on and on the list goes. And although it might take more work, we can do the exact same thing with our own faults. We don’t want to make excuses for ourselves, but we do want to see God’s purpose and plan for each part of us. We aren’t meant to just throw pieces of ourselves away, but to take every bit and place it before God as an offering.
Know where you’re headed
So take those pieces, the good, the bad, and the… complicated, and let’s do just that—place them before God as an offering. We are “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10). When we become paralyzed by our shortcomings, we rob ourselves of the joy of fulfilling our purpose!
Make a plan, my friend. How will you use the gifts and talents God has given you? Because he has definitely given you gifts and talents, and they are meant to be used. How will you shift your perspective on your faults and see them as opportunities for growth? What will you do today to place your life—all of it—before God as an offering?
Your plan for today could be as simple as immersing yourself in God’s Word so you are surrounding yourself with truth. It could be to make a list of your strengths as a reminder to yourself. Maybe you need to take a closer look at who God created you to be. Or maybe you need a 5-year plan. From the tiny to the big, they’re all great options. Just do something.
Step out of your own head and into your identity as a beloved child made in the image of God.
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