Have you ever felt not good enough? Have you ever felt like you're doing everything you can but you just can't seem to get it right?
Have you ever been scared of not measuring up to people's expectations for your life?
Have you ever tried to get the job or position, balance the busy schedule, or maintain distant friendships, and you just end up with feelings of failure and self-pity?
This is what I like to call ugly inadequacy. It's the things we think about ourselves that hurt us. It's when we feel like we will never be enough, and it's feelings that many of us feel on a regular basis. Whenever something isn't going exactly the way we intended it to, we blame our own incapability to handle the situation correctly. When we have a task before us that seems like way more than we are capable of, we wallow in fear that if we try and fail, it will just be another thing to add to the list of things we can't do. Ugly inadequacy weighs us down and paralyzes us from continuing on in the work to which we have been called.
I've gone through two periods of ugly inadequacy in the past few months. One was when I joined the traveling ministry team I'm on at Liberty. I looked around at everyone else on the team, and for the first few weeks I did not know why I was on the team or what in the world I could possibly add to this strong body of believers. It seemed like everyone knew more than I did about the Bible and how to teach and mentor students, and they were so good at maintaining friendships with one another. I felt like I would never be able to measure up.
The second season of inadequacy happened this week when I started my new summer job. I've never had a real job before where you get a paycheck or have a formal boss. My jobs in the past have been babysitting, running my own little necklace business, and serving God on mission trips, so a real job is quite the different experience. I'm working at the cutest coffee shop ever, Farmhaus on Main (If you're in the Augusta County area, come visit me this summer!), and the first few days of work were overwhelming to say the least. Again, I was surrounded by all these amazing people who know more than I do about coffee, food prep, business, and customer service, and they've all already developed relationships with one another and with the customers. I came home the first two days completely exhausting, absolutely loving what I was doing but wondering how I was possibly going to measure up. I just felt like I wasn't even qualified to be working there considering my lack of experience in the essential skills required for the job.
But this is where the beautiful inadequacy comes in. Beautiful inadequacy is where I can lean into Jesus and just be thankful that He’s got my back covered. It's being able to acknowledge that I'm not perfect and never can be, which means that I'll never be able to do everything perfectly.
2 Corinthians 4:7 says, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us."
Back to the first scenario with my ministry team, what happened was my feelings of ugly inadequacy turned into heartfelt prayers of asking God to equip me with everything I need because I knew I couldn't become more equipped for ministry on my own. Only He could shine all the more brightly through my weaknesses. The "jars of clay" mentioned in the verse above are talking about us. We are God's vessels, and the more holes, or inadequacies, we have in us, the more brightly Jesus can shine his light through those holes. My inadequacy turned into a beautiful form of humility that I had not experienced much previously because I had always felt like I could handle the situations I was put into. But it's often when we feel like we are incapable that God most works in us.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But He [Jesus] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for 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.”
Back to the second situation in the coffee shop, I may be incapable of performing the tasks to the highest caliber, especially starting off, but that gives me opportunity to rely so much more strongly on Jesus to equip me and work through me. And I may not have any deep relationships with my co-workers or customers yet, but that allows me to rest in my already best-friend relationship with Jesus, while asking Him to help me develop earthly relationships that will glorify Him.
So, I just want to encourage you if you struggle with feelings of inadequacy like I do. Know that you can give those inadequacies to Jesus and let Him use them to strengthen your faith and shine His light in a world that so desperately needs more people admitting that they are not enough on their own. Our inadequacy displays His beauty.
Abba God, humble us by showing us where we fall short, but help us to not be hindered by our short-comings, but rather allow your Son to shine through our weaknesses. Amen.
Some amazing thoughts that inspired this blog post came from right here!