Anyone else ever struggle with feelings of being inadequate? Just me?
Growing up, I did pretty well in school without having to try too hard. Lots of things just came naturally to me. Even so, there were lots of things that I wasn’t so good at, and when it came to those things I had to try a lot harder, and often failed. There’s nothing like tripping over a hurdle in track and field and falling flat on your face to give you a little humility.
Many times, it went beyond just a lesson in humility for me, though. I was overwhelmed by a drive for perfection, and failure left me with a tremendous sense of inadequacy. Smart, but never smart enough. Fast, but never fast enough. Good, but never good enough.
Before meeting Jesus, I dealt with these feelings through self-harm and self-destructive habits. Society would tell me that the answer to my problems was a lack of self-esteem, and to overcome my issues I needed to start feeling better about myself. But telling that to a kid like me was sort of like telling a cancer patient that the solution to overcoming cancer was to not have cancer. It made sense in a weird, round-about way but gave me absolutely no direction in a path towards change.
Interestingly, God’s solution for saving us out of our dark pits and self-destruction is not to deny the fact that there is a problem with us. He acknowledges our inadequacy and wrongdoing. But, then he invites us to fall on his mercy and receive his love for us anyway. The reason he can do this is because Jesus stepped into the story as our hero and our substitute. Jesus was adequate FOR us, and in a crazy, mysterious way he makes us adequate too when we are united with him in faith (see 2 Corinthians 3:5-6).
The words of the old hymn become true in my experience:
I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength INDEED IS small
Child of weakness, watch and pray
Find in me thine all in all”
Jesus paid it all!
All to him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow
In Jesus, I find acceptance from a heavenly Father God, who acknowledges my weakness but loves me anyway. Everything I need and lack, he invites me to find in himself. And, indeed, he is everything I need. My heart is full! All glory and thanksgiving to the God who loves and accepts us in Jesus!