Although it was twenty years ago (yes, I am dating myself), I remember vividly going through rush during my freshman year in college. Nothing will make a girl question her value, worth, and adequacy like 1200 girls judging your appearance, your conversation, your friends, your grades, your interests, your family, and your background for three days straight. It’s a cattle call endured by generations of women all in the name of leadership, friendship, and . . . fun?
Every day during rush parties I remember watching fabulously dressed, beautifully coifed girls walk by me. They laughed, flipped their hair, and carried on conversation with ease. I watched these girls in awe as they effortlessly made small talk about family connections, summer camps, and cute boys.
I stood quietly outside each room, yet mentally I jumped up and down begging the chapter members: “Pick me! Pick me!” The double doors opened to usher us into the next room and just like the confident girls beside me, I played the game too, for I had learned early on in life the lesson that those cute little Pinterest quotables are just figuring out: “Fake it till you make it.”
When you come from a family tree like mine—filled with broken branches and trampled leaves—you learn to act like you fit in, even though you know you don’t. My parents divorced when I was only two years old. My dad was absent throughout my life, and my mom went on to marry and divorce two more times. My life was filled with abuse, abandonment, and dysfunction, yet somehow, I managed to show up for life. Every. Single. Day. I made friends, earned good grades, become a high school cheerleader, and joined a college sorority. I believed the world when it told me I was inadequate and second-class . . . but I never let on.
Do you struggle with this lie too? If so, can you think back to the first time you felt inadequate? Did you fail to live up to your parents’ unreasonable expectations? Did you play the part of the quiet wallflower to your Homecoming Queen best friend? Are you struggling to find the right career while your peers run on the fast track to success? If so, do you see yourself through a lens of inadequacy, always wondering if you will ever be enough? Do you ever ask yourself these questions:
Am I successful enough?
Am I smart enough?
Am I wealthy enough?
Am I popular enough?
Am I nice enough?
Am I helpful enough?
Am I creative enough?
Am I brave enough?
Am I valued enough?
Am I pretty enough?
Am I thin enough?
Am I just enough?
In one word, am I . . . acceptable?
(If You Could See as Jesus Sees, page 102)
God knows his people wrestle with the issue of feeling inadequate, so He graciously addresses it in Scripture and teaches us how we can overcome it.
First, he tells us that we are worthy, not insignificant. Think about the countless women in the Bible who were deemed “less than:”
- the widow who donated her measly mite
- the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair
- the bleeding woman
- the Samaritan woman (the woman at the well)
Yet, each time we meet these women in Scripture we see God nullify the world’s negative impression.
- When the world says Rahab is lying, God says she is rescuing.
- When the world says the widow is penny-pinching, God says she is generous.
- When the world says the sinful woman is wasteful, God says she is worshipful.
- When the world says the bleeding woman is unclean, God says she is healed.
- When the world says the Samaritan woman is sinful, God says she is forgiven.
God sees us, not as the world sees us, and not even as we see ourselves. He sees us through His own perfect lens—the perfect lens through which He created us. And God does not create women who are “less than.”
Next, if God calls us, He will equip us. You might feel unqualified at your job or unprepared to serve at your church, but rest assured, God overcomes any obstacle and shows us that we are enough because He makes us enough. God does not call His children into opportunity just to set us up for failure.
When my second book, If You Could See as Jesus Sees, released, many women from across the country contacted me telling me they were studying the book in small groups. It was so exciting to see how God was moving! My word of the year is “connect” and I felt God calling me to connect with these women, yet I felt swamped with radio interviews, writing commitments, and teaching responsibilities, not to mention trying to be a wife and mother to my four children (there are only so many times I can serve mac ‘n cheese and call it “dinner.”) But I still couldn’t shake my need to connect.
Through a series of conversations and events, God told me to create a video series to accompany the book. Now, if you know me, you know that, me + technology = disaster. I know nothing about videography, I had no money in my budget to tackle this project, and the sheer thought of this monumental task had me running to reapply my deodorant twice before breakfast. But when God asks us to do something, He doesn’t take no for an answer.
Within one week God sent me one friend who with video equipment, four friends to participate in the videos, three locations for filming, and another friend to upload everything to my website. Within three weeks the entire project was complete! Talk about overcoming my inadequacy! If God calls you, God will equip you.
Finally, we must remember that we will never be enough, but God is always enough. If we think about the story of Jesus feeding the 5000, we remember that the boy only had five loaves of bread and two fish to feed the masses (Mark 6:30-44). The food was not enough. The boy was not enough. But Jesus is always enough. He worked a miracle that day, just as he does every day in our lives.
Paul addresses the fact that in ministry, we are never enough, and that’s O.K. Because Scripture says Jesus leads us along because He knows we cannot go on this journey alone. We cannot accomplish all He has asked us to do without Him. We cannot endure all that He has placed in our path without His presence and His protection.
But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
Still wondering if you are adequate enough?
Rest assured, my friend, you are. God says we are enough simply because He is enough for us. “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
(If You Could See as Jesus Sees, page 102)
Whatever happened to that scared, inadequate girl who stood in the line during rush week? She went on to pledge one of the most sought after sororities on campus. God blessed me with friends, with community, and with a purpose of being a light on my college campus. While I wrestled with feelings of inadequacy from time to time throughout college, God never gave up on me. He continued to show me that I was worthy, I was loved, and I was enough. And He longs to show you these things too.
Elizabeth is a writer who hates math, loves words and people, and conveys restoration, hope, and God’s faithfulness through her writing. She earned her B.A. from Baylor and an M.A. from Dallas Theological Seminary before writing two books: a Bible study for teens called, Dealing with Divorce and a book encouraging women called, If You Could See as Jesus Sees. Elizabeth is married to Brandon, and they have three biological kids and are foster parents to a fourth child who they plan to adopt in spring 2016. You can read more from Elizabeth at www.elizabethoates.com
To be entered to win a copy of If You Could See as Jesus Sees, by Elizabeth Oates, leave a comment below on what you’d want to learn from her book. Winner will be picked on Tuesday, February 23rd!