If you were asked to fill in the blank, “Sometimes, I feel like I’m not ___________ enough,” what would you say?
What would your 15-year-old say?
A few weeks ago, I asked 50 or so high school women just that. Here’s some of what they told me:
Sometimes, I feel like I’m not
They also talked of how they struggle to have enough time, energy, confidence, and friends to make it through their days.
I marveled at the bravery and honesty in the room. One of the adult leaders said it was like a “pressure-release valve” had opened, letting them share the lies they have been believing and letting them see that they were NOT the only ones struggling with some of those things.
If our daughters and sons are already carrying the weight of not being enough, how do we help them substitute truth for those lies? It starts with three things:
First, they need to hear us validate that what they are feeling, those desires to be “enough,” are real and actually good—more on that later. We absolutely CANNOT dismiss their thoughts with something like, “You shouldn’t feel that way! You’re young. Wait until you’re my age, and then you’ll really know what it’s like!” All that does is add another item to the list: “Not old enough.” Nor can we give them generic answers about just not worrying or just trusting more.
We have access to profound truth from God’s word that goes far beyond a pat on the head for these young people joining the ranks of adulthood.
Second, we’ve got to be honest about our own feelings of lack, of not being enough. My daughter was shocked when I told her how I scrambled to feel good enough as a writer and a student throughout my college years and even now. I shared with her the same thing I shared with the youth group and on an earlier post:
I had lived under perpetual, self-generated pressure to be at the top of my game as a student and a writer. No matter what grade I got on a paper, I bullied myself into thinking I should make the next one more brilliant. I thought each round of validation from my professors would be enough, but it never was. A chasm opened between the ideal in my mind and the reality on the page, until, midway through my college career, I fell in. I found myself terribly depressed and suffering moments of paralyzing anxiety.
My daughter had a light-bulb moment realizing her mom struggled with the same need to be approved and validated as “enough.”
Third, we’ve got to point ourselves and them to the ultimate source of “enough.” Our desires to be enough in any category are not actually bad. God created us with needs, appetites, and desires, but because of the corruption that came when sin entered the world, we strive to fulfill them in ways that can never be enough.
In fact, one of the sobering realities of turning to Christ for redemption and new life is that we often sense the struggle even more. As Paul says in Romans 7:22-23, “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” Paul, like us and like our teens, wrestled with trying to find his “enough” through everything but God, and this was as a believer actively working in ministry! No wonder he says, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body subject to death?” (7:24)
But it’s at that moment of surrender that the answer comes for Paul, for us, and for our teens:
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 7:25-8:2
Jesus is not the voice judging, condemning, pronouncing, “You are not pretty, good, strong, smart, thin, popular enough to be loved and accepted.”
His is the voice saying, “I am enough. I will be enough for you, too. Don’t be afraid. I’ve set you free.”
Want to dig into what it means to be enough because Jesus IS enough? Check out my book New Woman, New Clothes: Outfit Your Soul to Live, Lead, Love for a practical Bible study on who we are in Christ and ALL He’s provided to equip us in the journey.