A. W. Tozer once said, “What you believe about God is the most important thing about you.”
I would agree with Tozer, and I would add that a close second is what you believe about yourself.
As I interact with others and examine my own heart, I’m convinced there are two terrible, destructive fictional stories we tend to tell about ourselves.
I’ll Never Be Good Enough
First, we believe that we’ll never be good enough. That we won’t measure up. That we’ll always fail to meet the standards that other people have set for us, and the ones we’ve set for ourselves.
And this fiction has a shade of truth. It’s certainly true that we’re all sinners – that we’re all imperfect. But our sense of never being good enough is often accentuated by some pretty negative factors in our lives, such as:
- Comparing ourselves to other people.
- Viewing personal perfection as the goal.
- Listening to the wrong voices.
- Repeating the negative lies we’ve believed from our past.
Here’s the problem with the never good enough story: It depends on the absolute absence of grace.
We wind up living our way down to our perceived inability to measure up. If most people are an 8, we will hope to be a 9, but we’ll perform sometimes at a 7 and rank ourselves a 6.
The discouragement of never good enough leads to despair. And despair produces some pretty rotten fruit in our lives.
I’m Just Fine Like I Am
The second fiction we tell about ourselves is that I’m just fine the way I am. If the first fiction creates a continual discontentment, the second produces an unwanted contentment.
Sometimes we repeat this fiction because it’s a good coping mechanism. It lets us off the hook and numbs the pain caused by the never good enough version of the story.
This fiction assumes:
- I never need to repent of anything.
- I never really need to improve.
- Life is as good as it’s ever going to get.
Both of these fictional versions of our stories are harmful in their own ways, and both are combatted with truth.
So, what’s the truth? What’s the nonfiction version of our story all about?
While I may not know your story, I know mine and plenty like it. And thanks to the Bible, I have the word of your Creator on this.
I Could Use Some Help Getting to Where I Need to Be
Here’s the truth.
1. I’m not naturally where I need to be.
We don’t get there by accident or by default. The Bible points out that we’ve all, universally, missed the mark. We’ve all blown it. We’ve all sinned.
2. I can change and grow.
Not all change is growth, but all growth is change. And things can always change. If you believe the lie that people never change, you’ve missed a thousand wonderful stories that I’ve heard about the transformation of people’s lives, mine included.
3. I have a lifetime to accomplish this.
If you’re a Christian, then you must understand that this life is preparation for the next life. So this life is the practice run. It’s the orientation.
Better yet, this life is the waiting room. Back around the turn of the century, when we barely survived Y2K, there was a song on the radio by a brother-sister duo named Larue called Waiting Room. It included these words:
Time after time, I find myself
Losin’ my mind, I have to remind myself
That this is just a waiting room
And we’re waiting for Your love
And I, I don’t understand how
We could be so blind not to see
The love that stands in front of
In front of You and me
Don’t doubt He loves you
This life isn’t everything. It’s the introduction and there is more to come.
Will you ever be good enough? Well, consider that the entire purpose of God for his people is to perfect us for eternity. And to perfect us doesn’t mean to simply make us morally righteous. It carries the connotation of completion.
So, remember these nonfiction versions of your story.
- I’m not there yet, and I need help on the journey.
- I’m on my way, and growth can be the norm in the meantime.
- The best is always, always yet to come until we get home!
Thank God, for the imperfect ones like me (and like you), there is grace, and it’s all for the asking to anyone who looks to Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the grave as the ultimate mechanism for our forgiveness, our cleansing, and our complete renewal.
Maybe it’s time to believe a new story.