My sweet girl and I have a lot in common, but we have one fundamental disagreement every single day: Her hair.
I want to brush her hair, and braid it, and put in the sparkly clips, and then braid it some more, and then maybe add a third braid.
She (begrudgingly) agrees to the brushing, but she must brush it herself. And that’s it. Usually no clips, no braid, no head bands. She likes it down and then she’s off, an independent woman ready to face the day.
I try not to force it – it’s her hair, after all, and this isn’t exactly a safety issue like a seat belt. It’s not worth the inevitable fight. But there is still a part of me that feels the need to brush it just a little more, to suggest one more time that she let me put the clip in, instead of her doing it herself on the back of her head where it clings on by one strand of hair.
It was during one of the “suggestion sessions” that she turned her sweet little face to mine and sighed. “I like it this way, Mommy. I wish you did, too.”
These were all the thoughts that went through my head as I listened to my five-year-old talk. I realized what I had been doing was not giving helpful ideas, but sending her the message – over and over again – that she could be improved upon, that her beauty was not up to par… that she was not enough.
I didn’t do it on purpose, of course. I would never willingly hurt her that way. But I have a had a lot of practice at it, because I do it to myself all the time.
I am too overweight.
My house is messy.
I am disorganized.
My face is too round.
I don’t have real talent.
I’m not a good mom.
People think I’m weird.
Why do I act so obnoxious?
I talk too much.
I’m not as smart as my friends.
I wish I were taller.
I wish I had more money.
I wish I was a better mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend.
I am not enough.
Through my extensive 3.2 decades of living, I know I am not alone in these feelings. Most women (and probably men, too – shout it out, men; we take all kinds here) struggle with the balance of mom life, wife life, employee life, friend life, and everything in between.
We are told to flatter our features with make up, and we learn that make up is what makes us beautiful. We are reminded that our children need us, and we learn that they will become our sole identity. We are encouraged to keep our homes clean, and we learn that failure to do so makes us a failure, too.
For the record, there is nothing wrong with wearing make up, or raising children, or cleaning your house, or anything else that is a regular part of your life. These things are not inherently bad. But, at least for me, they quickly consume every part of my being, leaving me with the knowledge that, because I can never do every single thing (or anything) in my life perfectly, I am not enough.
I am not enough.
Then I go hang out with friends, and, because I am already prepped to believe the worst of myself, I spend more time analyzing my own words and actions than actually enjoying fellowship with my friends. I talk to my husband with the goal of proving my worth to him, and list out all the ways I have added value to our household. I meet new teachers and coworkers and bosses and pastors with the sole intent of hiding who I really am, so they might be willing to look past all the ways I fail and think well of me anyway.
I am not enough.
It’s not a fun way to live. And, after you live a certain way for a long enough period of time, you start to forget that this idea of not being enough was never true; that it was something of your own creation. You start to believe it, and you can’t remember life before it. You just know it is true.
But it isn’t true.
Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
The Bible tells us that we are made in the image of God – in the very image of God Himself. It goes on to remind us that we were carefully and lovingly crafted, each part of us made to glorify God and His wonderful works. A passage in 1 Corinthians reminds us that none of us is identical – we all have different talents and gifts, and the body of Christ is at its best when everyone utilizes their unique attributes. John 3:16 tells us that God loves us – we, who are not enough – so much that He sent His Son to die for us, just so we could be with God in heaven in one day.
Does that sound like someone who is not enough? Or does it sound like we have each been meticulously put together, each with qualities that we may not understand or enjoy but that are an integral part of who we are? How can we possibly improve on the image of God, on the way He has specifically created us? Am I arrogant enough to think I could do better myself?
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean this to sound like I am enough for myself and therefore have no need of a Savior or time in the Bible or wise guidance from leaders. I need Jesus in an increasingly desperate amount of each hour of each day.
And in that knowledge of my need for a Savior, I can also realize that the way I am – the way God Himself created me and the quirks and traits He has given me – is perfectly okay. He is the one who gave me the very qualities that I consider my worst imperfections.
There will always be things we want to improve, and things that we should always strive to do our best in. For instance, I have yet to reach the stage of my life where I feel like I really pray enough every day, and should probably cut back. I should definitely keep feeding the kids. I want to improve the quality of my work in my jobs inside and outside of my home. I do need to eat more healthy food; not because I need to be a certain size, but because I need to take care of the body and life I’ve been given. I will keep seeking ways to walk closer to Jesus and reflect Him back to my community, because that is something I will never be perfect at this side of heaven.
But the times where that voice in my head criticizes my singing during worship, or reminds me of the way I talked too loud at carpool, or pointed out that my van looks like my family has been living in it for a week – those are the times I will remember that God Himself has told me that the way I am is perfectly okay.
I am disorganized – and I’m still enough.
I talk too fast – and I am still enough.
I yelled at my kids – and I talked to them and made it right, and I am still enough.
I am overweight – and I took a step in the right direction to eat a little better today, and I am still enough.
I didn’t finish the laundry – and I am still enough.
I’ll never be a mathematician – and I am still enough.
My face is round – and I am still enough.
I’ll never be a famous singer – and I am still enough.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made – so I am enough.
You are enough, too. If you’re not sure, or if you don’t believe me – look it up for yourself. I didn’t make up those words – they came straight from the Creator. You will mess up, and you will break promises, and cheat on diets, and fight with your spouse, and neglect your home, and slack at your job. You are not perfect – none of us ever will be.
But you are enough.