We’ve all said it, or at the very least, thought it –
I’m not enough.
The phrase dances through our mind, preying on our human tendency to compare and be found wanting in a myriad of categories.
I’m not enough.
The women that surround me, each and every one, are doing amazing things with their lives. It may look different in each of their lives, potentially changing with life’s seasons, but each of them contributes something just by being themselves, by using their gifts.
Many of them work outside the home, starting businesses, pursuing graduate degrees, climbing the career ladder, and many of those who choose that path are vocal about more feminist-leaning views, breaking the glass ceiling, and reaching your full potential as a woman. In the last couple months, posts extorting this view have increasingly annoyed me, eliciting eye rolls and resentment.
During a quiet moment the other day, I asked myself why? Why do these women’s excitement about their particular direction in life make me uncomfortable and irritated? What’s my why? As what often happens when my mind is given a second to stop and ponder something in the quiet, the answer wasn’t long in coming — I was angry because their career and life choices made me feel like mine were not enough.
The quieter, more simple dreams I have for my career do not include running a company, but dividing my time between work and my home, with most of it spent in the home once children arrive. This now almost counter cultural view seemed in my mind to be overshadowed by grand proclamations of feminine genius and power.
Before you take offense and leave, stick with me a moment. I’m not claiming my feelings were justified or correct, I’m being transparent and stating they happened. And in an instant during my reflection, I knew my why. I realized the why behind my emotions, and it didn’t just apply to status updates about career promotions.
It was in the jealousy when I peruse the Pinterest pictures of the fancy DIY projects that never happen at my house.
It’s in the negative self talk when the model on the fashion website made the outfit look a million times better than it does on me.
It’s in the pity party I would throw myself back when I was single and everyone (hyperbole much?) else was seriously dating or married. (Now it’s in the discontent wondering about whether or not we’re behind because I’m not having children yet and everyone — yes, not much has changed with my tendency for the dramatic — else is)
It’s in the loneliness that leaves you breathless in a new city when you realize there are no girlfriends to call for a coffee date.
It’s in the false perception that people’s lives are as wonderful they seem on social media and the internet.
It’s in the self-loathing that comes when perfectionism once again raises its ugly head, yet failure echoes throughout the hallways of your life.
My why is the fear. The fear of not being enough.
This was the why. The why behind my strong negative feelings.
It wasn’t the strong women who choose to use their gifts in business
It wasn’t the equally strong women who choose to use their gifts at home
It wasn’t the feeling that everyone had it together but me
It wasn’t a deep, dark, mysterious reaction that was triggered —
It was the simple, age old struggle of feeling as though I wasn’t measuring up, was never going to be enough.
But you know what? We are enough.
And it’s not our careers, marital statuses, fashion sense, brilliance, social standing, parenting skills, or our unique gifts that make us so.
It is our inherent, God-given worth — proven on a wooden cross, sealed with a resurrection, and revealed anew with every day spent in His incredible, unfathomable grace.
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.”
Isaiah 43:1-5 (The Message)