Beautiful Between

living fully in the now & not yet

If you feel like you’re not enough, this is for you

I wanted to talk about when you feel like you’re not enough. I wanted to tell you how I cope and struggle against the innate sense of lack so many of us carry. But as I wrestled with the words, something inside pushed back.

As a kid

I thought about hiding on recess as a kid, crouched in the wooden crate that held playground balls at school. The loneliness was deafening, though I still caught the sound of laughter and shouts from kids playing. With hand-me-down clothes and awkward social skills, I believed I wasn’t cool enough, good enough. So I’d hide out in the ball crate or the library, putting space between myself and the sting of rejection.

As a Christian

I thought about becoming a Christian in high school and trying to navigate the new world. All the kids in my youth group had grown up in church, so they knew the songs and verses and the right things to say and do. They seemed to experience God in ways I didn’t. Few people around me understood my struggle with depression, so well-meaning people told me to “choose joy.” Somehow, I couldn’t. That inability repeated what I already knew: I wasn’t enough.

In relationships

And I thought about the long, lonely years before I met my husband. I planned weddings with friends, dressed up and celebrated with them. I held their sweet babies, aching for my arms to feel the weight of my own child. Still, nothing ever blossomed into a relationship for me, and I secretly blamed the broken pieces of my life. I kept my dreams tucked away, wondering if I would ever be enough for a marriage and family of my own.

Now, I feel it most acutely with Micah. He is the sum of those dreams and loves me better than I’d ever hoped. I desperately want to make him happy in every way. I want to be the perfect woman and love him well, without reservation or condition.

Of course, I fail.

My words aren’t always gentle. My heart isn’t always turned toward him. We don’t always communicate well, and I don’t always handle that with grace. And I hate it.

I don’t want to just be perfect in soul, but body as well. I want to be pretty and thin and put-together. I want my skin to glow and my hair to catch the light just right so the red in it is illuminated, exactly how he likes it.

But I wake up late and throw my hair into a messy ponytail, anything but put-together. The medication that ensures I’m healthy and functional blessed me with forty pounds of extra weight this last year. In so many ways, I don’t feel I’m measuring up.

What if “enough” is a lie?

I’m turning these moments of feeling inadequate over and over in my mind. Maybe there’s no such thing as not enough and enough. 

All these snapshots of inadequacy in my life, all these searing moments of pain weren’t really about anything I could do or not do to be good enough. They were about longing to be loved, to know and be known. When I was a kid hiding out or trying desperately to fit in, I really just wanted to know I belonged. 

Maybe it all comes down to being irrevocably, unconditionally, unreservedly loved and accepted. Of course, the most powerful experience is that of finding ourselves irrevocably, unconditionally, unreservedly loved and accepted by the Creator. While we wonder if we’re enough by some imagined standard, God probably isn’t measuring us at all – and neither are those who truly love us.

But we are creatures who dwell in tangibles, who sometimes need flesh-and-blood to remind us we are so fully accepted that “enough” is irrelevant. When you know are fully loved by friends, family, spouse, and above all, by God, there’s little room to feel like you’re not enough. Your heart is too full and secure.

And this is where we are both givers and receivers of an incredible gift. Our full, unconditional, gracious love and acceptance of our loved ones can quiet that same sense of inadequacy. We can be the flesh-and-blood demonstration of the love of Christ and the belonging of his body.

Tonight, I laid my ear against my husband’s chest. We relaxed into each other, talking softly, vulnerably. I felt the thumping pressure of his heart beneath me, the soft skin of his arms curved around me. I knew then, imperfect as I am, I am perfectly enough for him. And, in that moment, I felt perfectly loved by not just this man, but the Lord.

Maybe this is the secret, after all. Perhaps it’s simply the experience of loving and being loved deeply that makes the feelings of not enough fade quietly away. 

11 Replies

  1. Dr. Clark Roush

    Sarah – you have been richly blessed, and for that I am so happy for you. I would like you to consider that your post comes across as marriage being the key to being enough. While hopefully that contributes, both single and married people need to find that from God. I don’t believe single people to get married to experience the fullness from above, and many married people certainly don’t. I appreciate your work and words, but I don’t want you to limit your audience and the good you do for any reason.

    1. Thank you so much for the thoughtful response and sharing how this post came across. I absolutely agree that marriage isn’t the goal or the source of our greatest security. It simply is one of many avenues God can use to demonstrate his love tangibly.

      I so appreciate the feedback! Will edit for clarity ????

  2. Denise ols

    Good read, thanks so much. I did not take away from this post what the person above me must have. Or maybe I’m just not politically correct enough… I think God totally shows us his love through our spouses, for marriage is a picture of gods un-ending and unconditional love to us his bride. Not to say that while single he does not show us that same love because he does. But he does it in different ways. But while we are married yes God shows us and uses our spouse to lavishly love us. I guess the old saying is true you can’t please everyone all the time. So glad that God is speaking to you and ministering to your heart right where you are in life right now.

    1. Thanks so much, Denise! It is true, he definitely uses marriage to demonstrate his ridiculous, without-condition-or-reservation love <3 Thanks so much for reading!

    2. ileana

      I think that while the article is wonderful and candid about the author’s struggles with feeling enough even after apparently receiving all the good earthly gifts, there are some of us who, saddled with baggage that won’t budge no matter how much right theology we’ve thrown at it, despair of ever getting past ‘while we’re single’ to ‘while we’re married’ and enjoying that kind of blessing. I think the voice of the commenter who took exception needs to be heard, for those of us in pain over relational struggles and emotional barrenness, even as Sarah’s beautiful, hopeful, compassionate voice must also be heard. She must have edited it well, as I didn’t take exception on the same point, but I sympathize with anyone feeling that marriage is being held up as ultimate completion (something that happens too often in the church) when I’m so broken and far from capacity for intimacy myself.

      1. Thanks so much for reading and sharing, Ileana! You are so right, we do need to hear the voices of those still despairing of moving into their dreams. Whether those are the voices of single people longing for love, childless people longing to hold a precious baby of their own, or people struggling to overcome pain/illness/addiction or something entirely separate, we need to hear those living in the “not yet.”

        Marriage is not the ultimate completion by any means. I would hate for anyone to feel that because it is such a lie. You may be broken, Ileana, but so are all of us. Hoping with you for all the beauty of your today and future ❤️

        1. ileana

          Thank you, Sarah, for your heart and your sincerity, and most important, for really getting it.

  3. I just took it as finding your husband made you realize that you do have something to offer. That we tend to be overly critical of ourselves and sometimes we get pleasantly surprised to find someone who thinks we’re awesome! Husband or friend, it doesn’t really matter. Although its super cool when they are both the same person.
    I liked it!

    1. Yes, we get SO self-critical! I hope you’ve also found some amazing people who think you’re awesome, too 🙂

  4. Sarah,
    Loved your post. I think we share the same intentions with our writing. Keep up the great work

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