When Not Good Enough is Good Enough

I will say that one benefit of the practice of giving something up for Lent is that you are pretty much bound to fail. And in a way that is the point. Lent makes us remember that we are not good enough. Those little inspirational posters that tell you can do anything if you just try hard enough, they lie. We can’t do everything. In fact, there are many things I can’t do even when I put my mind to it and give it my best. Because I am only human. Because I am fallen. Broken. Mortal. There are real limits to what I can do. And sometimes in this “pull ourselves up by our boostraps/ self made man” world we need to remember that we are limited by our humanity. This year though I have not purposefully given up a specific “thing”, I am finding that our move from one house to another is becoming a Lenten practice for me. There are many things I have to let go of. Stuff. The house where we made ten years of child rearing memories. Any sense of order or control. As we spent the weekend getting our old house ready to go on the market tomorrow, I found myself brought to my knees over and over again. My negative thinking told me we would never get it ready on time. It would never be clean enough. It would never be orderly enough. It would never be pretty enough to compete against the other houses out there on the market. At the end of the day, it really wasn’t just my house that I believed wasn’t good enough. It was that I wasn’t good enough. And in many ways this is true. But hopefully Lent reminds me that not being good enough is not a curse but a gift. Throughout the day yesterday as we were cleaning and organizing I kept uttering phrases under my breath. “Christ have mercy, Sweet Jesus help me, or simply O LORD help.” At some point one of my kids called me out and said, “Mom you need to quit taking the Lord’s name in vain.” After thinking about it for a minute I said, “You know I don’t think I am, I think I am actually praying.” You see when we are brought to our knees by not being “good enough” we turn to the one we know IS. The one who is strong enough, patient enough, creative enough to accomplish whatever is before us. Learning to die to my own ego and asking for Christ’s help everyday is a big part of what the disciplines of Lent mean to me. When I can not only remember my own humanity, but remember and turn to God’s divinity, then I am at least headed in the right direction. For when I turn to Christ and lean on his power, my not being good enough is more than enough. For it leads me to rest in grace. And wherever I may be, the arms of grace are what truly bring me home.    ]]>

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4 thoughts on “When Not Good Enough is Good Enough”

  1. Dena, this post broke my heart and although I love how you can bare your soul and life and love you dearly you are beating yourself up for stuff that matters nothing at all. I hope you will listen to Richmond’s sermon from Sunday. WE CANNOT DISAPOINT GOD! Would you ever tell your wonderful children that they had fallen short and not love them? No. I grew up being expected to be perfect in everything- academics, sports, arts, church, community and doing all that never had enough time to be still and know God. I internalized that and carried it until I was in my early 40’s. It smothered me, all that expectation from external and internal. It was one Sunday morning really hearing at the Acclamation, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy soul, and all thy mind. And the second commandment is like unto it: Love thy neighbor and (as the original Greek stated) thyself. That’s it, Dena. All we have to do. And if we focus on those three things the rest just falls into place. We do not judge others, or ourselves and worry, which my Mother said was the worst sin of all- and she sure could worry and worried it would keep her out of heaven.
    I’ve got to get our Centering Prayer Group going soon- we all have so much to let go of on a daily basis, and it is so much easier done collectively- the energy of the group heals divinely. Love you, B

    1. Thanks dear Bill. I am probably being more dramatic than necessary for artistic purposes. I too am a recovering perfectionist and thank God understand better day by day what Grace means. That I don’t have to be perfect. That God loves me as is. But occasionally the perfectionist monster raises its head in my brain and I have to tamp it down again. But I am really fine. I’d love to hear more about your Centering Prayer group. I love practicing with a group.

  2. I thank you, Dena, for imparting a necessary lesson from which everyone can learn! I became Lent-obsessive from the time of my confirmation (Palm Sunday 1967), and any time that I slipped up, I was plunged into a sense of unforgiving self-loathing. Finally I abandoned the discipline because I was and remain too scatterbrained to adhere to it. Today you have freed me of tremendous guilt over the shame of my hypocrisy and spiritual inadequacies.
    I bid you and your family an exciting and successful moving experience!

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