Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough? Does it feel like you’re carrying a weight of guilt around with you that you just can’t seem to shake off? Life sometimes becomes overwhelming, and you begin to feel that it’s not merely that you can’t cope, but that there’s something genuinely wrong with you and you’re just not good enough. This feeling can cripple you, coloring every aspect of your life.If you’re a mom who’s had a bad day with the kids, the thought can move quickly from “I’ve had a bad day today” to “I’m just not a great mom” to “I’m a terrible person”. We make a value judgment about ourselves, and find that we wanting. That leaves us feeling guilty and feeling like you’re just not good enough.
The same can happen after a bad day at the office, at the end of an unsuccessful date, or after a poor performance on the sports field. How do we address these feelings of inadequacy?
One thing many people attempt is to combat feelings of not being good enough with hard work to become good enough. This could work, as far as it goes. There are some things we aren’t naturally good at, and a little practice to develop those skills isn’t a bad thing – in fact, it’s helpful.
You may not feel like a “natural” when it comes to parenting, dating, sport, or certain types of sport. Learning from others, taking the time to practice and get better at it could help you become more competent.
However, when we talk about not being good enough, feeling like we lack certain skills or qualities may be part of it, but it often goes deeper than our level of competence. It usually relates to our self-understanding and the value we attach to ourselves. When that is the case, any improvement we make may often be accompanied by a gnawing sense that we’re still not good enough, that we’re still not meeting the standard or that we could do more.
If we’ve lived with harsh words from our parents, siblings, friends or others that instill that sense of not being good enough, our accomplishments may be eclipsed by that pervasive sense of inadequacy. In other words, the heart of the problem is that we don’t feel valuable as people because we have failed to meet one standard or another. Our sense of self-worth is wrongly tied to what we do or don’t do right, and not to who we are – or, rather, to whose we are.
In our culture, a person’s value is set by their utility, by what they can produce. If what you can produce is considered valuable by society, then that means you are valuable. On the other hand, if society, or someone such as your boss, don’t think you have anything to offer, then we take that to mean that we aren’t valuable – that we aren’t good enough.
All of these things, from how our culture assesses value at a broader level to how that can play out in our personal life, shapes our self-understanding. But exactly what makes us valuable?
What makes us valuable and worthwhile?
One of the more well-known Psalms in the Bible is Psalm 139. In that passage of Scripture, David is talking about the absolutely mind-boggling way that God knows him and us all. He knows our thoughts, He knows where we’re going, and He created us with intention; with purpose and care.
One of the most powerful lines in that psalm is “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13-14).
Think about that for a minute. The God who made galaxies, from the smallest microbes to giant planets and stars – this same God made you. And He made you “fearfully and wonderfully.” You are a work of art, something to be wondered at because of how amazingly complex and beautiful you are, coming from the hand of God.
It’s not about anything you’ve done, but what God has done. We so easily lose sight of the weight of these words and the significance of knowing that we are made in God’s image. Our value lies far deeper than our looks, talents, and gifts. Our every fiber was knit together by God, and He loves us as His creation. That can never be taken away or undone.
Even when we make mistakes, one of the encouraging things about God is that He is gentle with us. He understands our weaknesses. Another psalm puts it this way: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14). God knows our frailty, and instead of judging us as not good enough and casting us aside, He has compassion on us.
Instead of disqualifying us and looking elsewhere, God loves us and welcomes us. This is very different from how our culture operates, and often how our friends and family operate – when we make mistakes (and sometimes even if we don’t), people can dismiss and disregard you.
It is also different from how we are even toward ourselves. We can be so quick to condemn, label and discount ourselves, but God has compassion for us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our transgressions from us.”
The big question
If we are not feeling good enough, if we are struggling to see our value in the midst of a struggle or mistake, remember this big question that Paul asks in his letter to the Christians living in Rome: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). If God is in your corner in Jesus, who can condemn you or try and separate you from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord? The answer is, nothing and no one!
The voices that accuse us, including our own, are met with and challenged by the voice of truth – God’s voice, about who we are in His sight. The rock bottom reality of who God is, the God who is faithful, trustworthy and true, is surety for our confidence. We are valuable precisely because we are irrevocably made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).
That is something we can’t change about ourselves. And so, when you are not feeling good enough, your attention should turn to the only voice that matters – God’s. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Let God speak what is true into your life, and the truth is that you are somebody because God made you.
Our sense of self-worth should not be tied to what we do or don’t do right. That just leads to constant insecurity. Rather, it ought to be connected to who we are, and more importantly Whose we are. That is a far firmer foundation to base our lives on. It is not a quick and easy thing to start reorienting our thought-life in this way. It takes time to undo certain ways of thinking and being.
We need to have our minds renewed so that we will begin to think differently about ourselves, to see the truth of what God says about us, and to take it to heart. This, ultimately, will give us rest from our constant striving to feel like we are enough.
As someone once said, “When we look back and wonder how we ever made it this far, we’ll realize it’s not because we’ve been clever, but because God has been wise; not because we were strong, but because God has been mighty; and not because we’ve been consistent, but because God has been faithful.”
If you are struggling to not feel good enough, please reach out to a Christian counselor. We are here to help you discover your true value and worth in God.
“Sun Through the Clouds”, Courtesy of Jesse Zhou, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sun on Grass”, Courtesy of Jake Givens, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Above the Clouds”, Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sunrise Over the Ocean”, Courtesy of Ravi Pinisetti, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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