Measuring up

It was one of those nights.  No matter how many prayers I prayed, sheep I counted, or songs that ran through my head, I still couldn’t sleep.  The sheets had come undone form where they had been tucked under the mattress, and I had to get out of bed to rectify the situation.  I considered giving up on sleep altogether, but I knew I couldn’t do that.  I had to lead worship the next morning, and I needed as much sleep as possible.  If I wasn’t fully rested, I was more apt to forget lyrics or be short-tempered with the team.  I had to get some sleep, but how?

I just couldn’t stop my whirling thoughts.  Failure after failure rose to the surface— every negative thing that had happened that day and in the days before.

  • Posts from friends on Facebook tell me that I wasn’t invited to that concert.
  • I wasn’t invited to share music at a particular event.
  • There are those excess pounds I just can’t seem to shed.
  • My cookies for the potluck usually turn out nicely, but not this time around.
  • I forgot the words during one of our worship songs.
  • I’m having a bad hair day.
  • There is a huge blemish on my chin.
  • I had to call my domestic assistant because I learned I would soon have guests and I wanted the house to be in perfect order.
  • I jammed the paper-shredder, unintentionally sucked something up with the vacuum, lost a screw in the oven door, and the dresser drawer knob came off in my hand… all resulting in me needing to ask for help in rectifying my mishaps.
  • I held off on reaching out to someone in need because I was processing my own emotional struggle.
  • I was reminded that out of the four of us siblings, I am the oldest and still single.
  • I posted a photo on Facebook and only received two “likes.”
  • I crumbled in doubt and insecurity when someone I thought was my champion seemingly misunderstood something deep at the core of my being.

There was nothing positive about my thought process.  I was feeling pretty beaten down and worthless.  It seemed I couldn’t do anything right.  Who was I to think that in just over six hours I would be on a stage leading God’s people in worship?  I was the lowest of the low— totally unequipped for such a weighty honor.

Miraculously, I was able to doze off at some point, but I didn’t wake up feeling any better about myself.  I realized I fell asleep praying… again.  Couldn’t I even dedicate a little time to Him?

I was lethargic and moody, and the last thing I wanted to do was ascend that stage and “bring it” as one of my friends likes to call the performance mentality.  As I got ready for church, I tried to channel my thoughts in a positive direction, but a heavy heart was still my companion as I walked outside to the waiting car.

That morning, we were scheduled to have a guest speaker. I had heard this gentleman speak before, and I felt a small glimmer of hope when I recalled how much I had enjoyed his message before.  I was eager to greet him and make him feel welcome, so after our sound check, I sought him out.  Almost immediately, I found camaraderie.  I was surprised when he admitted that he was feeling quite anxious and that he had been working through some challenges over the past few weeks.  Without going into detail, I confessed that my heart wasn’t in the best state that day, and we both took the time to encourage one another.

I wasn’t prepared for the message he would bring that morning.  I cannot recall the Scripture text or his main points, but the focus of his words made a direct pathway to my heart.  YOU ARE ENOUGH!  Those three words should have been freeing, but doubt wouldn’t let them sink in.  I had heard it before.  Of course God would say I was good enough.  He had created me in His likeness and I belonged to Him, but that didn’t change how I perceived myself.  I wanted to believe what the pastor said that morning, and deep down, I think I did believe.  But it took several weeks for me to work through this reality.

I was in the midst of taking an online course at the time, and I found it fitting that the text for the current unit’s study was rooted in the Gospels.  I was gripped with the text from Luke 5:32 (NLT): “I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think they are already good enough.”  Here Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees as He is sharing a meal with Matthew and his fellow tax collectors.  What struck me to the core was this reality that I didn’t need to feel like I was good enough to spend time in His presence.  Jesus could have dined with the Pharisees—religious leaders who seemingly had it all together— but instead, he chose to interact with the lowest of the low at that time in society.  The tax collectors were not model citizens, nor were they considered favorably by those they encountered on a daily basis.  But Jesus associated with them!  And it wasn’t only the tax collectors who received His love and attention.  He communicated with a Samaritan woman, spoke with an adulterous woman, touched and healed the sick and unclean, and embraced the little children.  Jesus didn’t come to minister to the powerful and important; He came for the weak and down-trodden.

As I read further in Luke’s Gospel, I was reminded of a passage I had studied several times over the years— the Parable of the Great Banquet.  I was familiar with the passage because I have learned to associate it with Christ’s interaction with the disability community.  The host plans a large gathering and invites all of his important friends and associates, but the excuses start pouring in.  The banquet is set to begin, but no one has made an appearance.  So the host sends his servant out to invite the crippled, lame, and blind.  Everyone is welcomed in, no matter their social standing, physical appearance, or ability.

Once more, I was reminded that I don’t have to measure up to some standard in order for Christ to welcome me to His side.  I think I will always feel inferior in light of today’s society.  There is so much focus on outward perfection and artificial beauty.  But when it comes to God, I don’t need to concern myself with such things.  However, I will probably always struggle to truly feel like I am enough for Him.  After all, I carry sin and negative self-talk around in my heart every day and I am not perfect.  There is no way I can measure up to the perfection of Christ.

But even so, He extends grace to me, and it is my choice whether or not I am going to embrace that gift— that invitation to the Banquet, so to speak.  I need to remind myself that no matter what is going on in my life and heart, God is always good.  Beyond that, there is this reality that because He is good, I am good enough.  His grace is enough for me and I am enough for Him.

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