I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but since we’re all friends here, I feel like it’s a safe place to say that a few days ago, I cleaned our master bathroom for the first time since early December. And actually, now that I think about it, when I cleaned the bathroom in December, I don’t think I cleaned the shower or bathtub. Just the counters, sinks, and toilet. You can imagine how truly gross things had gotten.
Don’t judge me.
Now, I would normally never ever admit these things out loud. Much less put them on the internet for all the world to see, but I feel compelled to put this little snapshot of the real me out there.
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? Hi, my name is Leslie Ann, and even though I’m more than a little OCD about clearing away clutter, I’m a total slacker when it comes to actual cleaning.
Here are some of the other problems I’m currently dealing with: I’m naturally a night owl who would rather stay up until 2 a.m. working on a project than rise early to get a jumpstart on the day. I’m a perfectionist who sometimes lets fear of failure keep me from chasing dreams. I also have a very real issue with pride, owning mistakes, and admitting that I don’t in fact have a clue what I’m doing most of the time.
Early last month, my friend Meredith and I were texting, and I told her that I was feeling overwhelmed by life. Between preparing for a workshop last weekend, writing a series on spiritual disciplines, developing a marketing plan for Muscadine Press, finding a new printer for our journals, getting ready to resume teaching 1 Samuel at church, dreaming up and planning for new product releases in June, and preparing to exhibit at a market in Birmingham next month, my plate was overloaded. When I added in the regular stuff of everyday life like cleaning bathrooms, buying groceries, taking kids to practice, and cooking dinner, it felt impossible.
So Meredith and I were texting, and I gave her the same laundry list I just gave you. And then I said this: “Maybe it’ll be all right. By the grace of God. And the work of the Holy Spirit.” Truth be told, I said it a bit flippantly. Because that’s the sort of thing that good Christians are supposed to say when they’re overwhelmed. “God’s got this. It’s going to be OK. No worries.”
But then, y’all, I started wondering what would happen if I actually lived like I believed what I just said. What if, instead of trying to bootstrap it, I started praying for God to enable me? What if, instead of trying to do things in my own strength, I started asking for the Holy Spirit to empower me? How would things be different? Would they be better?
For a long time now, I’ve been trucking along doing life by the strength of my own will. I’m pretty stubborn, and I don’t admit defeat easily, so even though I was dropping balls left and right, I refused to acknowledge that I just couldn’t do it on my own.
But last month, I finally let go. And God is amazing me with his grace.
It started with a growing conviction that I needed to put my big girl panties on and become a morning person, like it or not. Now, I’ve tried this more than once over the years, but because I work from home and my schedule is flexible and my tendencies didn’t really affect anyone but me, I was OK with keeping things the way they were.
But it wasn’t working anymore. This deserves a post of its own someday, so for now, just trust me when I say that something had to give. I started praying for God to help me. I admitted that I couldn’t do it. That I didn’t want to do it. But that I knew I needed to.
And y’all. By his grace, he’s changing me. I’m not strong enough to resist the temptation to crawl back into bed each morning. I know this because I’ve spent a lot of years not resisting the temptation. But when I started praying for God to give me the strength, he did.
I’m not enough, but he is.
This little change has been HUGE for me. I’ve spent more consistent time in Bible study and prayer in the past month than I have in years. I’ve had more time to work productively while the girls are at school. And to actually use my gym membership. And to start making progress on that long, long list of things that I had given Meredith.
Making the best use of my mornings means that I can devote afternoons and evenings to our family and home. Hence the bathroom cleaning. And random board games with the girls after school. Meals around the table that I’ve actually planned and shopped for. And a fresh sense of humility and awareness of my own shortcomings.
As long as I insisted that I didn’t need any help, I didn’t get any, and our whole family suffered for it. Trust me when I say that life is better this way, relying on God to give me the strength and fortitude for each new day to become the kind of person that he has always intended me to be.
I say all of this just to let you know that if you’re floundering, you’re not alone. So many of us, I think, struggle to keep it together and do all the things. We feel like we’re simply not enough, and friend, I’m here to tell you that you feel that way because you’re not. There’s a well-intentioned message out there that says “You are enough, just as you are. You’re good enough. You’re strong enough. You’ve got this.”
And while I appreciate what they’re trying to say—that you don’t have to be perfect to be loved and you don’t have to be all the things for all the people all the time—it falls short of the truth.
The truth is that we are not enough. We are limited human beings, and we aren’t good enough, strong enough, kind enough, loving enough, gracious enough, patient enough, faithful enough, tough enough, committed enough, or able enough to be the kind of person and do the kind of things that God intends for us.
And here’s the kicker: we were made this way on purpose. We’re supposed to feel our lack, our not-enoughness, because when we reach the end of ourselves and come up wanting, that’s when we can finally and fully recognize how much we need God. Our lack forces us to reach out and rely on him instead of our own strength.
Though we are limited, he is limitless. He has no shortage of goodness, strength, kindness, love, grace, patience, faithfulness, toughness, commitment, or ability. He has all of those things in abundant supply, and only in him, are we ever enough.
So maybe it’s better for us to say that Jesus is enough. Only when I’m in Christ, will I ever be enough, because he fills up my lack. I’m not strong enough to resist temptation, but he is. I’m not good enough to be good enough, but he is. I’m not able to save myself from myself, but he is.
I am not enough, and I never will be, but that’s OK, because Jesus is. And he’s faithful to give us just what we need right when we need it. We need only ask.
Until next time, grace and peace.