That you have to spend too much time and effort trying to prove yourself, only to be reminded you still aren't good enough?
I'd be lying if I didn't say that that's basically been my life in a nutshell.
I can remember distinct times growing up and thinking these things. Like when I was in 8th grade band. For 3 years, I was almost always 2nd chair, next to Mike (or next to Allen if I was 3rd). Every time we had try-outs, my place remained. Only one month, Mike messed up during tryouts and for a short period of time, I was 1st chair. Not because I deserved it. Not because I was better than Mike, because honestly, he's an incredibly talented musician, but simply because he had made a fluke error that day and I didn't. I never measured up to him as a trumpet player. I went on to quit band.
Or during my Sophomore year running track how I threw up before every.single.meet. Yep. Every single one of them. My nerves would always get the best of me. And while I was constantly improving and running my events faster and faster, there was always this guy named Scott who would rag me in Geometry class about how much faster he could have ran them. Always asking if I threw up...again. And then him and his friends would laugh and mock me. It didn't matter that I received the Most Improved award, or that I had dropped 33 lbs between my Sophomore and Junior year. I still wasn't good enough.
Or the time when I was a Junior in Chemistry class and everyone was struggling to even make passing grades on Mr. Hartsfield's tests. That is, everyone except me. So when the curve was implemented, everyone was elated that maybe they could finally get a passing grade. But there was me, who made 95's and 100's, all but eliminating the curve. And I remember the day Mr. Hartsfield said there was no curve because someone made a 100. People were mad and seeking out the person that prevented them from getting extra points. That's when Clay turned around, already knowing it was me, looked me square in the eyes and said "You're an ugly *itch." Even being the best proved to not be good enough.
Or when I once liked one of my brother's friends. They lived together for awhile and I had become pretty infatuated with him. But it was never reciprocated until about 2 years later..... after I had ran track and..... you guessed it, dropped 33 lbs. I wasn't good enough before and I remember that feeling permanently marking me. I was excited when he asked me out on a date, yet I also instinctively knew I didn't ever want to be married to someone who couldn't love me at every weight I might ever be. Things with him obviously (and thankfully) didn't work out. Yet the reality of only being liked at a certain weight has stuck with me all these years later.
Even when I graduated as Valedictorian, it wasn't good enough. Because my class was the last class before they changed the handbook, which stated that anyone with a 4.0 GPA was Valedictorian. I achieved that. But so did 10 others. Yes, there were 11 of us that year. And from there on out, the handbook read "The highest GPA". Even in achieving what very few could, it wasn't good enough. We were a joke. "11 of you. Hahahaha. You're not the Valedictorian. You're just one of many."
Even at the top, I wasn't good enough.
The reality is that while these were in high school, things like this still happen.
Like when you bicker about whose way of loading the dishwasher is correct.
Or when you're handed the pink slip at work and have to go home and tell your family you lost your job.
Or when your husband walks out.
When people say "Oh, you're *just* a stay-at-home mom? Don't you have 2 college degrees?"
Or when you feel like you're missing out on everything with your kids because you're working two jobs to make ends meet.
Or when your pillow is wet from crying yourself to sleep because you don't think you'll ever compare or measure up.
When you feel left out, uninvited and are being talked about.
When you're passed over on the job you were hoping to get.
When your weight yoyos back and forth like an olympic skier going up and down the hills and you don't want to leave the house because not only can you never compare to the tan, perfectly ripped, chiseled, scantily clad models, you can't even compete with who you were a year ago.
When you stumble across the evidence of your spouse's indiscretions and are left devastated and heartbroken.
When you fall into the comparison trap and feel like your income, house, car, and wardrobe don't meet the standards of everyone else.
When your kids are bickering and fighting with each other and your house feels more like a war zone than a safehaven.
The thoughts soon follow:
"I'll never be good enough." "Well maybe I'll just try harder. I'll do ___, ____, and ____ and then I'll prove once and for all that I'm good enough."
And the problem with this mentality is that not only is it destructive and putting too much focus on other people and circumstances making us happy, but it often flows over into our relationship with Christ.
This has been true for me.
So many instances of not feeling good enough have led me to believe that I'm not good enough for Christ either. And the reality of that is, I'm not. None of us are (Rom. 3:10). But the danger is in when I begin feeling like I can work my way into better graces. The "fixer" in me says "Get to work." That if I'm more patient and gentle He'll somehow love me more. If I can be more successful and give more. If I can pray harder and dig deeper in His Word then maybe I'll have more faith and He'll somehow reward me with feeling accepted. If I wouldn't have ever been depressed. If I can become more disciplined and self controlled then maybe, just maybe......
And friends, He's showing me the futility of this.
Because really, that's what it is. Futile.
There is NOTHING, absolutely nothing I can do that could ever make Him love and accept me anymore than He already has.
I am loved.
And I'm not just loved, I am loved by the Creator of the world. The One who knit me together in my mother's womb, intricately weaving me piece by piece into who I am (Psalm 139:13). The One who came to rescue and draw me to Himself.
You see, He loved me when I was unlovable. He loved me before I was even born, knowing full and well all the horrible things I would think and say and do....all the times I wouldn't be good enough....all the times I would cry in the car, trying to pull myself together before I arrived where I was going. He foreknew all of these instances, that I would struggle with accepting and receiving Love. He knew ahead of time that trust would be hard for me and life would only deal me blows that made it harder. And friends.....He came anyway.
He loved me while I was still a sinner (Rom. 5:8). I didn't have to do anything to prove myself or that I'm good enough (Eph. 2:8-9). I was simply enough because I was His.... am His.
And He's been breaking my knees until I will bow to this realization and understanding. Forcing me into situations that require me to rely on Him and trust Him and see how good He is. And oh how He's constantly showing me this over and over and over until my heart will bend to it.
I've recently been listening to Selah's new song, Broken Ladders. It reminds me that we so often think we have to reach and rise for all these things that will never bring us true happiness, that will never prove that we're good enough. Because you know, He never asked us to do that. He didn't ask us to be a certain way for Him to love us. He simply has asked for our hearts and obedience.
And day by day, I'm learning this truth.
I'll never be good enough. And that's perfectly okay because I am loved more than I could ever know just.the.way.I.am.