It sneaks up on me when I’m not paying attention; subtle, unassuming, pretending to be my friend.
“I’m only here to help,” it tells me. “I’ll show you how to be a better person.”
I look where it’s pointing; at that woman with the cute clothes and the stylish haircut. Then I look at my too-light jeans and my limp locks and how I feel ‘less than’ when I stand beside her.
“You’d be more confident if you looked like her.”
So I buy some new clothes and I like them, but I secretly wonder if I look as much like an imposter as I feel. I wonder why I don’t feel as confident as I assume that woman does, why I still feel awkward and out of place.
And I hear it hiss, “You’re not good enough.”
It points again, this time to friends and acquaintances I’ve made in the writing world. I notice that their posts get shared more, their words are more eloquent, their readers more engaged. They’re making plans, pursuing opportunities, receiving acceptances.
“If you just work a little harder you can be like them,” it tells me.
So I write what I think people want to read. I stay up late at night and get up early in the morning, but it seems like I’m running in place, and I secretly wonder if this writing thing is a waste of time. If I was any good I would have ‘made it’ by now.
And I hear it say, “You’re not good enough.”
It points once more, to moms I know. That one’s house is always clean and this one spends so much quality time with her kids. Then it points to my inadequacies; my always jumbled counter tops, the unfolded laundry piles, the kids who are fighting or watching too much TV.
“Your whole family would be happier if you were like those women,” it tells me.
So I struggle to clean a house that never stays the way I put it, and I try to have one-on-one time with each of the kids, but someone always feels left out. I end each day frustrated and exhausted. It reaches down into the heart of who I am, of what matters most to me,
And I hear it shout, “You’re not good enough!”
It grabs my joy, turns on its heel, and struts the other way, leaving me empty and alone. I alternate between toiling under pressures that never cease and sitting in a stupor wondering,”What’s the use? I’m not good enough.”
It’s almost out of sight when I realize that perhaps it isn’t my friend at all. Friends don’t tear you down and walk away. Perhaps it’s an enemy. Enemies don’t tell the truth.
This enemy has been using a false measuring stick, a stick that measures me against others, telling me I’m not good enough compared to them.
So I pull out the true measuring stick, look at it’s markings, and see a new message:
“You are God’s handiwork.”
I race after that thief, catch it just before it disappears, and reclaim my joy.
“This isn’t yours,” I tell it as I walk away.
I hold up my true measuring stick once more and notice that there’s still room for improvement, but it doesn’t feel futile anymore. I know that I can stop looking at all the people who are doing it better than me because they have their own measuring stick to live by.
And the Friend who has been waiting patiently nearby leans in and whispers in my ear, “I made you. You are enough.”
So I grab His hand, He helps me along, and my joy remains.