“This is the joy for me. I love bread.”
You may recognize those words as Oprah’s opening lines from a Weight Watchers commercial that’s getting a lot of play these days. If you haven’t seen it, the premise is that Oprah is thrilled she can eat bread and still lose weight. While people are poking fun at the commercial a bit (I’ll admit, James and I chuckle every time it comes on Hulu), Oprah’s joy is inspiring.
I’ve been longing for this kind of joy lately. The kind of joy that makes you say: “I love life!”
But it hasn’t been coming.
Instead, I’ve been feeling an overwhelming sense of pointlessness – in my work, my writing, and just life in general. I’m trying hard to make things happen, but I’m left feeling ineffectual and unsatisfied, and that’s been leading me to despair.
Maybe you can relate.
My thoughts often go like this: Nothing I do helps this situation. This project isn’t going anywhere. If I can’t change the outcome, if I can’t make things happen, then why bother trying?
Instead of persevering, I’ve been throwing a self-pity-party. And as a result, I’ve neglected my writing, especially Enough.
As I’ve shared here before, I’m fighting the fear of failure and often losing the battle. I’m afraid that the book isn’t “good enough” (ironically), that it won’t go anywhere. And I’m afraid that I don’t have what it takes to see this through, and that maybe I don’t even believe in what I’ve been writing anymore.
Because if I’m still afraid of failure, if I’m still battling these feelings of “not enough,” then who am I to write about overcoming those fears and recovering from perfectionism?
What my friends and family say – and what I’m trying to remind myself – is that those continued feelings of inadequacy are exactly why I need to write and share my story.
- I need a constant reminder of the truths that have changed my life – so that I continue to put them into practice instead of reverting to old habits.
- I want other people to experience those same life-changing truths – to find rest in God’s love, to let go of the “try-hard life,” and to recover from perfectionism.
- I need – and maybe you do, too – the reassurance that this recovery process is continual and the encouragement to keep climbing out of the pit of “not enough,” which is so easy to fall back into.
These last few weeks have shown me that I need to practice what I write about on this blog and in Enough: vulnerability, dependence, authenticity, connection, gratitude, grace. I’ve rebelled against those foundational truths lately. I’ve turned the other way. And while it may seem like strong wording, I truly believe I’ve been disobedient.
Instead of choosing dependence, I’ve chosen to stew in depression.
Instead of letting my discomfort make me tender, I’ve been tending to my sadness. Nursing self-inflicted wounds of self-pity instead of letting the Great Physician nurse me back to wholeness and health.
I’ve been avoiding dependence because it’s hard. Because I just want to feel strong sometimes and like I don’t need God, I don’t need James, I don’t need anyone’s help.
But here’s the thing about that way of life: it’s lonely and it’s exhausting because it’s not how we’re designed to live.
We need each other. We need God. Anyone who claims they can do life on their own is faking it. (I certainly have been.) For a period of time, we may convince ourselves that we can go it alone – that it’s somehow a sign of success and self-worth – but eventually we reach the place of burnout, and we wonder what happened to that strong persona we cultivated. How did we crumble so quickly?
I’m tired of faking it, of feeling like I have to have it all together, of getting anxious when I don’t know the answers.
The truth is I don’t have the answers, and I haven’t been leaning on the only One who does.
Instead, I’ve been giving into the fallacy of independence, and it’s left me feeling pretty empty. I shouldn’t be surprised.
The Enemy – the one who comes to kill and destroy – wants nothing more than to render us ineffective by crippling us with despair, doubt, and an endless list of distractions and insecurities. He’d like us to think like we’re in this on our own, like we don’t have a Great Helper, a Comforter, an Advocate. He whispers that we’ve got to fight for ourselves and that we’re probably going to fail because we’re “not enough.”
Part of that is true. We’re not enough. On our own.
The great news is we’re not alone in this fight. We have the God who raises people from the dead on our side. The One who brings life from nothing, who restores order in the chaos, who calms the raging seas.
We don’t have to fight alone. But we do have to fight.
I haven’t been fighting lately. I’ve gotten lazy and hopeless, and I’ve doubted God’s power to help me in the battle. But I don’t want to live that way anymore. I don’t want to doubt. I want to fight. I want to love. I want to believe that what God has asked me to do – the words he’s called me to write, the people he’s given me to love, the work he’s put before me – has meaning. Because he says so. Because he loves me. Because he loves you.
In order to fight, I have to be equipped. I have to put on the right armor – the truths about who He is and who I am in light of his love. And I have to spend time continually with my Commander and my comrades. War is serious business. Thankfully, we know how this battle ends. In His great love story to His people, God reveals how everything ends up. He wins. He wipes away every tear. And we get to live in JOY with Him forever.
That joy isn’t fully realized until all is said and done. Until “it is finished.” But some of that joy is available to us now. That’s the in-breaking of God’s kingdom – the glimpses of God’s goodness here on earth. That’s what he means when he says, “Seek first my kingdom, and everything else will fall into place.” When we seek Him, we find everything else we’ve been looking for.
I have to admit that I’ve had it backwards lately. I’ve been seeking “everything else” instead of God’s kingdom.
But I want that to change. And that starts with my time. With setting aside minutes, hours, and days to be with my God. Responding to his invitation to rest in Him, trust in His governance, and lean on His provision. To not try to do it all on my own.
And when I question again if I’m enough, I will hear Him say instead: “I AM.”
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!
– “Before the Throne of God Above”