“You’ll never amount to anything.”
The teacher’s words seared my ten-year-old spirit. I understood her underlying frustration. After all, I was hyperactive, easily distracted, and consumed more than my share of sugar. Oh, and I had a mega-crush on a cute boy in my class who happened to be a drummer. A drummer!
With summer nearing, all the students struggled to sit still and engage in the class project. Yet I bore the brunt of the teacher’s tough day.
I don’t remember any other words the teacher spoke to me that year, but I can’t forget those. The harsh words stung deep inside and affirmed one of my deepest childhood insecurities. From that moment, I sealed the deal with the Accuser that I was not good enough and never would be. I lived in fear that whenever I was judged by someone else, I would always be found wanting.
The lie “I’ll never be good enough” sounds a lot like “I’ll never be enough” because they’re ugly twins. Never-good-enough convinces you to strain and strive until you’re miserable, while never-enough convinces you to quit before you even start.
We are all storytellers, and I rehearsed the narrative that if I stopped working hard—in school, at college, as a writer—then everything would disintegrate. Including me. Soon I interpreted every failure and misstep as further proof that I would never be good enough. If I scored a ninety-four on a test, I fixated on the six points I missed. If I lost eight pounds, I only saw the twenty I still had to go. Good enough always felt out of reach.
Perhaps you, too, have sensed the pangs of not being good enough. In your educational accomplishments. In your boss’s eyes. In the family pecking order.
We can live our entire spiritual lives striving to hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). But most days, if you’re like me, you still wake up with the creeping feeling, It’s still not enough, because I’m not good enough.
The Accuser loves this thorny lie, because it contains a half-truth. All your good works will never save you. You’re right; you’ll never be good enough. Only God’s good work in you will be enough.
Remember, though, that it was at the beginning—not the end—of Jesus’ ministry that the heavens cracked open and God’s voice thundered, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Each morning you can denounce the lie about your inadequacy and allow God to lavish you with his love and joy. You are in Christ and therefore the recipient of all his benefits, not the least of which is the fierce love and favor of the Father. Rest assured, the stunning good work God is doing in you, he will bring to completion. What if you took up residence in this confidence and security? How would that change the landscape of your life?
Today is the day to break free from the unrealistic standards you’ve been striving to achieve. Declare the words “I am God’s beloved child in whom he is well pleased.” Look for opportunities to slip these words into conversations about others and watch their eyes widen in disbelief. As you live into this truth, you’ll find the silly measuring sticks of enough-ness shortening, then vanishing. The score, the rating, matters less when God’s unmerited favor matters more.
Margaret Feinberg offers more declarations of hope and truth this Tuesday and Thursday on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from More Power To You by Margaret Feinberg. Copyright ©2020 by Margaret Feinberg, LLC. Published by Zondervan. Used by permission.