10.30.2006

good enough.

All of my life I've been told that I'm not good enough. It began, really, when I was 14. My dad had just died, my grades slipped, and what was formerly parental concern became parental criticism in the harshest of ways. I wasn't given room for my "reactionary C's" -- I was, instead, yelled at, belittled, grounded, treated unfairly. What could have been normal discipline was taken to the extreme. It got out of hand.

From there, The Voice began to criticize everything I did. If I wanted to sing (which I did, all the time; it was my newfound talent and therefore my newest passion), I was criticized because singers never made any money. How would I support myself? If I wanted to be with friends or talk on the phone, I wasn't spending enough time with my family. If I wanted to go to church, I was judged and told that I was only going for social reasons. If I made a decision at church or went down to the altar to pray, I was criticized for "making some sort of decision and not living up to it" if I happened to get impatient with my brother on the way home in the car.

Nothing I ever did was right. I tried so hard. I didn't want to please The Voice -- I had learned that that was futile -- but I tried my very best to please God. The Voice had plenty to say about that, too.

So I learned to "go stealth" with my inner life. I learned to close off to my family, because I couldn't trust them. I learned that if I let them see what was going on between God and me, it would be belittled, criticized, mocked. Something would be wrong with what I was doing. I had to protect the very precious relationship that was growing between God and me. And so it became *just* God and me, and that was okay.

To this day, I have a very, very hard time living out my faith in front of my husband. I feel uncomfortable praying in front of other people. The Voice still haunts me. I hear it daily.

The Voice affected me in other ways, too; the most obvious "thorn in my flesh" that has resulted from the influence of The Voice is that I never feel that anything I do measures up. I don't even know who I am trying to please; all I know is that everything I put my hand to, be it writing, singing, acting, my faith, my marriage, my parenting skills, my relationship with God, my relationships with others, is constantly under the scrutiny of The Voice. I have always felt that I am sub-par, that I will never be good enough. Other people have more talent, more drive, more discipline, more support. I don't have those things, and never will, so I'll never amount to anything. I'm doomed to be known as the girl who was "almost good" at what she did, but never could quite attain the level of skill needed to succeed.

It is a bleak outlook, I know. It has handicapped me my entire life. Sometimes it is a convenient excuse; other times it is a curse. I compare myself, my work, my success, to others, and am filled with self-loathing and despair. I'll never be good enough. I'll never make it. The Voice was right.

I had a revelation this morning. It was lovely: When I see my inadequacies, when I see the line in each area of my life where my talent ends, the line that I feel I can never get past, I have always been blinded by that line. And I was struck by the fact that everyone has a line; no one has limitless talent. The people I am constantly using as a measuring rod to chalk up my failures also have a line where their talent ends. I just can't see their line. Only they can. And only I can see my line. I have always felt that my line is big and black, obvious to all. It's not, just like theirs is not obvious to me.

I have been forgetting (or choosing to ignore) Who stands on the other side of that line to pick up the slack. Where my talent ends, the limitless resources of God begin. I can't, and He never said I could. But He can, and has always said that He would. And when I learn to embrace my wretchedness, my unworthiness, my inability, that is when His worthiness and ability can take over.

Philippians 4:13 in the Amplified Bible puts it this way:

"I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]."

What a relief! God gave me my talents and abilities, but He never expected me to be perfect, or even "good enough." He knows I can't. I pray that I can learn to hear His Voice above the paralyzing Voice of the enemy.

1 comments:

Gunny said...

"And when I learn to embrace my wretchedness, my unworthiness, my inability, that is when His worthiness and ability can take over."

Amen.

It is when, and only when, we recognize that we are week that we can be strong ... in Him.

Good things. Mazel tov

 
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