When you hear the phrase “Never enough”, what comes to mind? Is it the hit song from The Greatest Showman? Or perhaps you start to reminisce about those torrid years of adolescence when competition was fierce, insecurities were high and you thought that no matter what you did it was never enough? Or maybe you’re thinking about an addiction you can never get enough of. Or perhaps someone in your current life moment is making you feel like you’re never enough—-a boss, a boyfriend, a frenemy.
Whether explicitly stated or privately observed, feeling “never enough” pervades our society and does not discriminate who it ambushes. As a high school counselor, I see teenagers react to and often withdraw from various situations based on the anxiety, depression, shame and guilt they feel from not being enough. I, myself, remember buying Dr. Phil’s self-help book “Self-Matters” at a mere 16 years old, when I was struggling to feel acceptable in my own skin. I also think many adults act similarly even in older age. Like the emboldened lyrics of the power ballad “Never Enough” from the hit film The Greatest Showman, the same booming message often rings true for our own real life suffering.
I would venture to say that we have all struggled with inadequacy at some point in our lives. After all, it’s not as if we have our own private cheering squad following us around 24/7, triumphing our accomplishments and deflecting the balls of negativity, judgment, criticism and failure that are pelted at our heads in this dodgeball game of life. This world tells us that unless we do and say the right thing, we’re not good enough. Unless we have the right house, car, dress, job, forget it, we’re worthless. Unless we are married, unless we have children, unless we show up to church on Sunday, pay our bills on time and are do-gooders, we better make our way to the back of the line. It is a daily battle to combat these cultural norms, but it is not a battle we need to fight on our own.
We have deeply absorbed those repeated negative messages, and parts of who we are have become defined by them. But we must not forget in Whom our true identity is. While the devil has been spoon feeding us deceit our entire lives, telling us lies about our value and worth, Our Father in Heaven has been professing an altogether different message of how valuable we are to Him:
- For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but be given eternal life. (John 3:16)
- Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12: 6-7)
Believing the lie that I’m not good enough affects how I feel about myself, how I relate with my God and how I let others into my world. God created us to be in communion with one another, not in competition with one another. It’s not about measuring up to this world’s standards, but to biblical ones, where we are called to love one another, treat others as we wish to be treated and to do all things to glorify God and His Kingdom. In no way can focusing on how bad we are or how wrong we’ve been accomplish those goals.
The unworthiness we feel in this world has been perverted and contorted. Though it’s true that we are not, and never can be, worthy of all of the love, grace, mercy and compassion that God has shown us, it’s not something to find shame in. It’s something to repent of, humble ourselves to and embrace with gratitude. Instead of feeling worthless, we are to set our eyes on the One who IS worthy and who died for us while we were still sinners. It is less about our efforts to find favor in this world and more about recognizing to whom all praise and honor should be given, in spite of who we are.
The truth is that we are all at the back of the line. We will NEVER be good enough and the beauty of that is that we don’t have to be! Because it’s not about our goodness or badness, rather about Jesus’ sacrifice.
Let us pray:
I thank you for speaking truth into our hearts about our unworthiness, not to make us feel bad or depressed or worthless, but to help us accept the fact that we are not God and you are. That we are not good, but you are! I am in awe of how much you love us in spite of our evil doings. I am so grateful that I have a Father in Heaven who knows me and loves me just as I am. That there’s nothing I can ever do to make him love me more, and nothing I can do to make him love me less. I humbly admit that I am not enough, but I bask in the peace and thanksgiving that Jesus paid the ultimate price so that I can exist in this world. May my time on this earth be not spend in vain feeling down or worried about my decreased value. Instead, may my love for God and others increase because of this gift of life and a better understanding that GOD is MORE than enough!
In Jesus’ beautiful name I pray.