Does the mere mention of these words stir up any emotion for you?
How about these words?
As I read the words of 2 Timothy 3:17, "...so that [we] may be adequate, equipped for every good work," my gut wrenched with a deep longing to be adequate. Tears filled my eyes, realizing that, even after walking all these years with Jesus, I feel inadequate, insufficient, unworthy, and incompetent.
"When and how will I ever be complete in these things?" I asked God.
Most times when I ask God a question such as this, it is rhetorical. I don't exactly expect Him to plop down in front of me and say, "Well, Halee, here's what you need to know..." He almost always answers my questions over time, through scripture, experiences, and relationships, but rarely directly.
"When and how will I ever be complete in these things?" I asked God.
BAM! An image popped into my mind: (in)Adequate. There was nothing audible and no tangible items around or near the words... it is just as I have written it - (in)Adequate.
You Are Not Enough
The things I'm about to share with you quite possibly make me the WORST Life and Relationship Coach on the planet. Friend, you ARE inadequate. You ARE insufficient. You ARE not enough, and neither am I.
As I murmured my question to God, I wanted a pep talk, one that said, "Oh Halee, you're so strong and great - You are definitely enough, just keep working at it!", but the message I received loud and clear was that I was (in)adequate, and though I deeply long to be adequate, it is impossible. To strive for such a thing is a burden I am not designed to carry.
How depressing is that message?
Actually, it's quite freeing.
What Does Enoughness Get Us?
Take a moment to consider the areas in which you feel most inadequate where you don't feel like you are enough. What all have you done to try and fill that inadequacy?
In Ruth Chou Simmons' book, When Strivings Cease, she wrote, "In an interview for GQ, Danish psychologist Svend Brinkmann pointed out that our 'self-help craze, the imperative to perform and be flexible and optimize yourself all the time has become pathological with us becoming victims of self-optimization fatigue. He pinpointed the problem with self-betterment and the exhausting pursuit of arriving at the finish line of your best self, saying, 'It's a process without end... if we're only okay as long as we are striving, moving, developing, then we're never okay.' We want to feel okay. We want to be enough. We want to arrive at the finish line as the winners. And we keep believing we can make it happen if we just optimize our performance and carry it out flawlessly." (pg 70)
Trying to set goals and strategize our ways into adequacy is a spinning wheel that leads to exhaustion, defeat, and shame. Don't get me wrong, I do find goal setting and strategizing VERY valuable, but believing we can make "it" happen will create "self-optimization fatigue" at best; it will steal our joy and destroy us and our witness at worst. This is NOT at all God's intention for us. Jesus came to give life and give it abundantly (John 10:10).
The crazy thing is - even if we put a checkmark next to our goal, the likelihood of ending the journey feeling empty and not enough is very high if you began the journey feeling this way. Just ask anyone with a Superbowl ring, the career of a lifetime, or a "parent of the year" award (does such an award exist? Then why do we act like we're trying to win it?).
What Will We Become of Us If We Choose To Remain (in)Adequate?
Spurgeon wrote, "Our sufficiency is of God; let us practically enjoy this truth. We are poor leaking vessels, and the only way for us to keep full is to put our pitcher under the perpetual flow of boundless grace. Then despite its leaking, the cup will always be full to the brim!"
Yes, let's practically enjoy this truth. As I have contemplated, prayed, and studied the scripture in relation to this word, (in)adequate, I am more and more convinced that we are truly inadequate in everything and in every way, but we are created, loved, known, and filled by a God who is PERFECTLY adequate in EVERY way. It is in the process of discovering the nature of God that we find joy and peace NOT in our grand performance. To be (in)Adequate is to be made adequate by the nature of God, not of ourselves. You are adequate:
- (in) His grace
- (in) His love
- (in) His knowledge
- (in) His arms
- (in) His strength
- (in) His image
- (in) His delight
- (in) His comfort
- (in) His creativity
- (in) His provision
- (in) His power
- (in) His plan/will
- (in) His presence
- (in) His suffering
- (in) His perfection
- (in) His intercession
Simply put, we are adequate IN Him - period. Read that list one more time, but this time say, "I am adequate" before every bullet point.
To not be perfect, to not measure up is not a reflection of anything negative about us or even a reflection of how big God is or isn't. It is simply a factual statement - "I am not God." Once I (we) embrace the reality of our nature versus the nature of God, it brings us out of a place of denial and pride and places us at the feet of Jesus.
Whispering, "You are not enough," is one of Satan's routine tactics. His words are said with maniacal laughter meant to induce shame, but, isn't it ironic that his words are actually true and are the very thing that removes a tremendous weight and burden from our shoulders? Next time you hear these words from Satan, just thank him for the reminder.
"When we are weak, then we are strong," is not a cliché - it is the true, living Word of God. You and I are inadequate, insufficient... we are not enough, and - wow! Knowing this opens us up to a whole world of beautiful possibilities.
Is There Any Room for Goal Setting In Our (in)Adequate Lives?
Paul had some large, Spirit-filled goals to share the gospel with Jews and Gentiles, a very unlikely crew to become united. Oh, how inadequate he was for this job since he had previously tried to imprison and kill Jesus-believing Jews! But as he looked the Church of Corinth in the eyes, trying to explain his and his team's qualifications, he said, "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but OUR ADEQUACY IS FROM GOD" (2 Corinthians 3:5, emphasis mine). In Him we are adequate; therefore, we are (in)Adequate, fully equipping us to accomplish all things.
Think how light our burdens can be and the confidence we can have in pursuing any and every goal and good works that are set before us if we are IN Him. We become qualified for the craziest adventures, we begin dreaming dreams that were previously impossible, and we approach each challenging circumstance with joyful anticipation rather than intimidation and anxiety. We cannot set a wrong goal or fail. Even failure becomes victory when we are living this way.
So, welcome friends, to the world of (in)adequacy - where we admit we are not God and allow Him to work fully in and through us and our imperfections, which is the exact place He most desires us to be. So dream on. Set your goals, just remember, you are a cracked vessel - to remain full, you must stay under the perpetual flow of His grace.
"For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." Zephaniah 3:17
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