Those words make me cringe.
I want to be the best, the top, the MVP, the respected expert, the living saint, the smartest at something, the cleanest (at least house-wise), the youngest looking for my age (belly laugh), the fittest, the most healthy, the best cook with well-balanced all-0rganic foods…
But I may be… just good enough.
Call it genetics, call it OCD, call it the fact that I was surrounded by the most loving mother, a father who always provided and fixed everything, two valedictorian straight-A siblings who were surrounded by good steady friends, and a childhood home who’s floor was cleaner than my cleanest countertop (if I have one of those), and a family that was always at least 15 minutes early for everything…
Who knows the cause, but I never wanted to be just ‘good enough’… ‘just eeking by, by the skin of my teeth’… ‘barely making it’… ‘always a predictably 5 minutes late for everything, even back when we had 2 kids instead of 8’… ‘A jack of all trades, but master of none’…
But that’s me.
I have so much energy (at least in my mind)… I want to take on everything, be adventurous, learn new skills, build businesses, save the world… and at the same time, I always want to get a shower every day, do my hair and makeup and look well-presented, have squeaky clean kids (and boys with clean fingernails… what am I thinking?), step out of a shiny clean van with my perfectly pressed 8 children, effortlessly gliding across a social event ballroom like there was no effort in also leaving behind a clean home and groomed horses and dairy goats.
Give me a break.
I suppose I am a closet frustrated perfectionist. While I am a terrible actress, sometimes people get this idea that I have it slightly together. If you’re one of those people, you need to visit us unexpectedly and all false theories will be washed away in an instant when a severely underdressed child with a ghetto diaper greets you with a big smile at the door and mommy races down the stairs with a towel in her hair, in her haste to be presentable to even the mailman.
I should be happy with this situation by now. I should be used to it, peacefully and serenely accepting that ‘this is part of raising a big family, running a farm, running two businesses (so far), being faithful, and wanting to be social’…
But I’m not.
My pride wants more.
Hubby and I read a book over the weekend (need to get that link for you… after I’ve fed the kid’s an unhealthy breakfast, of course) that mentioned how we need to accept the words “Good Enough.” Those two words struck me. Uncomfortably. Right in the middle of my constant pursuit of perfection. Good enough? Good enough? But… that would take… humility!
There were three times in my life where I (believed I was) the best. The top. Elite. And it felt good. It was just temporary and a lie, but it still felt good nonetheless.
Once was when I left this whole God thing and decided to pursue my own strengths for wooing the world. That was way back when I was single. I wrote about it in my story about my conversion. It was wonderful, I mean glorious… except I never had peace in my heart and then there was the whole hell thing. So the world’s offer to me of reaching that ‘top’ was a corrupt top. Nevermind. That went against my heart and soul. And when I had my conversion, the world deemed me not good enough for them. I was a freak.
Then there was that feeling I got in Regnum Christi (a movement which I belonged to for 5 years). NOTE: I am referring to the Regnum Christi movement before the coming out of the founder’s scandal. The Church is doing a tremendous job of ‘cleansing’ the movement, and waiting for some of the leaders to catch up to the humility of the past situation. My spiritual directors at the time communicated to me that I was elite, special, spiritual, successful, gifted… and that I had potential to spread the movement and be one of those ‘edified praised people’ among the wider group. This appealed to my pride. Maybe it was my fault that my pride was seduced. But nevertheless, it was, and I followed out of my own pursuit to be ‘better than your average Christian.’ Ha ha! What a joke. I am honored that Jesus even called me to squeak my way into the back of the church. Who the heck am I? But I believed it… and I was mistaken. It wasn’t true. And it turned out, in the end, I wasn’t even good enough to them when we lost our small fortune because we didn’t have that same ‘potential’ anymore to ‘build the movement.’
And then there was my most recent experience in a Latin Mass community. Again, NOTE: We have many good friends in this community who do not act in a cultish way and we love this particular way of transcendent worship… we just won’t sacrifice charity and rationality in order to have incense and Latin, much to our sadness for those who still ‘know not what they do’ to our family and others. Our hope is that this will change… in fact, we believe God will change this community for the better, in His own time. Anyway, I also had the feeling of being elite. I wrote a poem in my past story on cultish behavior that had the line “one of five favored”. I was told that in spiritual direction, that I was ‘one of five people who would be remembered’ when the person moved away, because of my specialness, my gifts, who I was… Of course, this was a sweet comment. My pride loved it, and I blame myself for that. But it, too, was a lie, as I found out harshly when I was dumped as ‘one of five enemies’ in the space of a few days. It turns out, I was deemed ‘not good enough’ for that parish. My kids weren’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough at volunteering, or getting to more devotional events, or being on time, or cleaning up my children’s donut crumbs (sorry, I still find that humorous!) I wasn’t even good enough to worship there on Sunday, the day when I and my family were ousted from the community and followed to our car to make sure we left.
This last experience was such an amazing growth time for me… a significant moment in my life where I have realized many spiritual truths.
Number one, I am NOT good enough in the faith arena. None of us are. We never can be, whether we are the pope, whether we speak latin or Hebrew or Spanish or Swahili, whether we play electric guitar while chewing gum at Mass (gasp!), whether we home school or public school, whether our husband is a deacon or a guy who has difficulty getting to church, and whether we… well we ALL do… SIN. Nope, sorry. Hate to burst your bubble, but there is no ‘good enough’ to earn God’s love. He gives it to all of us, even evil world leaders and Hollywood stars that flip God off in the face.
Where I fell into despair was when I was trying to be better than good enough. I was trying to be… perfect. Shame on those who tried to demand this of me. But double shame on myself for believing that this was possible or necessary in order to be loved by God, even though it is a good goal to aim for (Jesus even exhorts us to ‘be perfect’ although this was within a parable about charity, not memorized prayers or clean houses.)
Good enough? That is all we need to be. I want to encourage you, my dear friends, to be good enough, which is actually a tough challenge in itself. Maybe you didn’t kiss every boo boo on your child’s knee, but you are there for them when they really need it. Maybe you haven’t cleaned the kitchen for real in weeks (or longer), but you were comforting a friend. Maybe your checkbook isn’t balanced, and money looks ridiculously unavailable, and maybe you argued with your spouse about it, but you stayed with them anyway instead of giving up. Maybe you tried to home school, but you needed a day of break for your sanity and you put them in a one day program so that you could catch your breath and be a more mentally healthy parent. Maybe you put them in school altogether because you need to work to make ends meet, or your family situation was suffering for other reasons. Maybe you didn’t get a shower today, but you are dressed with a smile.
So you didn’t catch all those dust bunnies lurking under the couch, and you forgot to read to your kids last night because you collapsed in a heap with exhaustion at the end of the day from everything else you were doing for your family. So your sons have dirty fingernails and everyone is overdue for a haircut, but you all managed a family game.
So you forgot to read the bible or say the fancy devotional, but you managed to eek out the prayer ‘help’ yesterday because you remembered that God is our one true Help…
Maybe, just maybe, you are good enough. And good enough is a worthy goal.
And if you were more than that, you could fall into pride. I know I would. And if someone tells you that you are less, they are lying to you.
You are good enough, because you woke up this morning and God wanted you alive… because He loves you infinitely and has a plan for you. Even if the plan is as simple as doing those dishes out of love, or going to work out of love, or even crying out of an honest sadness or exhaustion…. but you are being faithful and living another day.
Although we always should aim for improvement and small victories in our lives in order to grow, good enough will do…
Because if we are ‘good enough’ in our life in order to reach heaven, we will indeed be victorious.