You are not good enough. You never will be.
And that’s okay.
I’ve spent most of my life not feeling good enough. I haven’t seen or heard from my biological father since I was about four years old. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t spent years wondering why I wasn’t good enough for him to stick around and why he didn’t love me.
I guess you could say I have daddy issues. And those issues impacted most relationships in my life. Most of all my relationship with God.
Always fearful of abandonment, I held tight to a leave-before-you-are-left attitude. It’s a mentality that seemed to protect me most of the time. Looking back now, it is an attitude that probably played in my divorce.
I still struggle with not feeling good enough even now that I’ve been remarried. It feels like I have to earn love and acceptance, even from people who love me the most. And especially from God. He knows everything I’ve done and thought about doing in my life. Some things I’ve never told a soul. How could He possibly love me?
But He does.
Being Self-Righteous Won’t Make You Feel Good Enough
We tend toward attitudes of self-righteousness. You don’t think so? Just take a look at social media.
It is especially prevalent with each controversial news story. News feeds blow up with people declaring what the facts are and their opinions on the outcome. Hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it? The problem isn’t just the declaration of the facts and their opinions. The problem is that often times these posts lead to verbal assaults on “friends.”
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And mom shaming is practically an Olympic sport!
None of this actually makes us feel better about ourselves long-term. It feels better for a little while but when we start to feel bad again, we are just looking for the next victim of our self-righteousness. Because that is the only way to feel better.
We are addicts.
If Not Self-Righteousness, Then What?
Self-righteousness is described in the Oxford dictionary as an unfounded certainty that you are “totally correct or morally superior.” On the surface, it looks like someone being judgmental and condescending but deep down, it causes a constant striving for perfection.
It’s difficult to know whether the self-righteousness grows from the insecurity or the insecurity grows from the self-righteousness. My guess is that it is a little of both – a dangerous cycle of addiction between judging others and striving for perfection in order to feel worthy and lovable.
Or maybe I’m just talking about myself.
No matter how much we strive for perfection we will never be there. We will continue the cycle indefinitely and perpetuate the feelings of not being “good enough.”
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The Tax Collector and the Pharisee
The topic of righteousness and, specifically, self-righteousness is addressed a number of times in the Bible but the best example of how we tend to act versus how we should act is found in the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee. In Luke 18:10 – 14, Jesus tells this parable:
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people…like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.
The Pharisee was a man who abided by the religious laws while the tax collectors of the time were seen as greedy traitors. They were Jews who worked for the Roman empire to collect taxes and often cheated the people. (Just take a look at the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1 – 9.)
So why did Jesus say the tax collector was the one who went home “justified before God”?
It’s important to recognize the posture of each man.
The Pharisee didn’t acknowledge his own badness. He just said thank you that he’s not like other people and proceeded to tell of the good things he did (fasting and giving a tenth of his earnings).
The tax collector stood at a distance and wouldn’t even look up to heaven. These are typically postures we take when we feel ashamed. And he simply asked God to have mercy on him. He didn’t tout himself as a great man because of the good he did. He asked for mercy because he was a sinner.
And this is the difference in how we can get over having to be good enough.
Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? I can hear you now. Hold on, Ana. You mean to tell me in order to get over feeling like I have to be good enough is to recognize that I’m a sinner? To actually acknowledge my badness? I’m supposed to actually be okay with not being good enough?
Yes. That is exactly what I’m telling you. And if you’ve read this far, I have a feeling you are willing to hear me out.
The difference in the attitudes of the Pharisee and the tax collector is the difference in self-righteousness and humility. Jesus tells us in Luke 18:10 – 13 that we also will be justified before God if we humble ourselves before him.
There is nothing that we can do on our own to earn righteousness before God. No matter how we strive for it, we will never attain it.
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So How Do We Become Righteous?
We have been told we need to be perfect. For heaven’s sake, women’s magazines photoshop arm fat and big thighs while also airbrushing wrinkles and other blemishes.
So we go to the Bible to feel better and then come across “Be perfect, therefore, as your Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). What in the world! Talk about pressure.
Hold on a second, sister! If you focus only on that, you miss the bigger picture here.
You and I have conversations a lot, don’t we?
But, Ana. I will never be perfect. I just can’t win.
That’s true. And not.
It is true that you will never be perfect just striving for perfection. You can’t possibly do enough to be good enough to be perfect. But you can win!
Thanks to Jesus! He took on our sins and sacrificed himself despite having been perfect – without sin. Even when flipping the tables in the temples but that’s another story for another day.
When Jesus willingly went to the cross and allowed himself to be crucified, his righteousness was imputed to us. He took on our sins so that we may be righteous as he is righteous.
Isn’t that amazing!
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
So we take a look at the final thing that Jesus said in the parable.
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:14
Never Good Enough But Loved Enough
I don’t have to get to a place where I’m lovable. I don’t have to be the perfect Christian. That is an oxymoron after all. When we humble ourselves before God, we will be exalted. Lifted up. We don’t need to do it for ourselves.
Romans 5:8 says it so perfectly, “but God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
There are no exceptions to this.
I am loved. Exactly where I am. Exactly as I am. And so are you.