Feeling not enough is a debilitating lie that is easy to believe in a world of disappointments. Maybe you’ve been through neglect or abuse. Maybe rejection or abandonment. No matter how low you feel, there’s hope for you to put off Not Enough and put on Just Right.
When I was in my twenties my pastor recommended that I read Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. As he made this suggestion, one of my female friends asked him with a puzzled look, “Isn’t that book usually recommended for women?” Since I didn’t know his exact reason for the suggestion, I didn’t feel too embarrassed.
Hind’s Feet on High Places is about Much-Afraid, a young woman who lacks confidence. Her Chief Shepherd (Jesus) invites her on a journey to strengthen her sense of emotional security. He promises her she’ll have two companions that he hand-picked especially for her. She pictures positive and uplifting companions but instead she receives Sorrow and Suffering. She initially reacts out of pure fear and refuses to go, but her trust in the Shepherd manages to overtake her fears.
I never asked my friend, but apparently, she was surprised that a man could relate to Much-Afraid’s journey. I can’t speak for other men, but it’s easy for me to relate to Much-Afraid.
Actually, I never asked my pastor exactly why he recommended the book. But I did read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think he realized the challenge I faced as I tried to make life work while being significantly behind in my social/emotional development.
Today I can see more clearly what I lacked, but back then I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I just knew I felt uncomfortable with myself, especially around other people.
The particular reasons why women and men feel inadequate are likely different, but both can feel it with equal intensity. Finding healthy self-worth is challenging. It’s easy to believe you are not enough or you are too much. Never Just Right! Feeling Just Right would make life so much easier, wouldn’t it?
Not enough means feeling inadequate. It’s like having what you think is a super-power that nobody recognizes or needs. Why did God make me so useless? I feel like I’m a somebody and that somebody is a nobody.
Too much means feeling too needy. You have so much you want from others that you end up scaring them away. At least that’s what you think will happen because it’s happened at least once already. Why did God make me so needy? I can feel like I need more than anyone can handle.
But God doesn’t see you as not enough or too much. He looks at you and says, “just right – just the way I made you.”
I wish my everyday experiences lined up with this truth! I experience what seems like constant reminders that I’m not enough. One way this plays out in my life is through my more introverted personality. I fear being misunderstood. I’m like Moses. I have what I think are some profound insights; however, I often need time for them to register in me — more time than many people are willing or able to give. Inside my head my ideas sound great. But the more I’m put on the spot, the less I make sense. Then I start feeling the burden of inadequacy.
What can be done about this? I have five ideas to help you put on Just Right. God is working these in my life and they help me tremendously. I hope they help you too.
1. Strengthen Your Faith
God is invisible. It takes faith to believe He exists. That’s challenging enough even when you’re feeling closer to Just Right. But real faith is able to function amidst the worst of circumstances.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 ESV
Faith is believing something to be true, because you know it’s true in your spirit, even when your circumstances are telling you otherwise. You can have sorrow and suffering as companions but through sheer stubbornness you can hold onto the truth that God made you Just Right.
But don’t stop there. As you believe and cease your doubting, you can ask for more (see Matthew 21:21 and James 1:6).
Just because you’ve experienced too much, Not Enough doesn’t mean you are Not Enough, nor does it mean you are doomed to never have enough. Jesus can handle the depths of your need. Ask for what you need to make up for your years of not enough.
2. Give Your Best
Joy comes as you know you’re giving God your very best. Have you ever worked so hard that your sleep was deep and restful? When you’re giving your best, you can stop worrying about what is enough.
Watch the movie, Facing the Giants, and ask yourself if you’re holding back your best efforts because your situation seems hopeless and you’re too afraid you’ll fail.
Jesus gave His best but He had to die before God glorified Him. God expects the same for your life. You’ll find it’s easiest to give up in the worst or the best of circumstances. Always give your best, even if you’re not yet reaping a return on your investment.
3. Rest in God’s Design
God made you with limitations. Give your best and trust God with the results. God didn’t make you to mimic someone else. You must trust that God didn’t mess up when He made you. God knows your capabilities and limitations. Don’t judge your results by someone else’s abilities.
You can trust God will save you at the end of your life (that you have eternal life) but faith is for now too. If you’re reading this, you’re not dead yet. God will make a way.
You’re enough because God says you are enough. You can be a work in progress and still be just right. You be you. Let God worry about the results.
4. Risk Relationship Again
Lies are born within relationships. If you relate to others, you will get hurt. That’s the bad news. But the opposite is true too. Lies are overcome within relationships. God can deliver what you need through relationships.
For this to work, you’ll have to take the risk to open up to others. You won’t gain the benefits of a relationship without vulnerability. Be smart about it; don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Choose your friends carefully and you’ll come out ahead.
5. Pursue Your Identity
Be a lifelong student of who God made you to be. God knew you before you were conceived. The less you know yourself, the easier it is to believe the lie that you aren’t good enough. Without enough touches on your identity, you’ll remain too naive. Don’t judge who you are today; give yourself time to develop into all God made you to be. God gives you your whole life.
Here are five steps you can follow to pursue your identity:
- Enlighten: learn what identity is and what it isn’t
- Explore: focus on discovering exactly how you’re different from others
- Embrace: accept what you find
- Enjoy: learn to like and love who God made you to be
- Express: share who you are with others
I pray God blesses you with a deep understanding of your identity and the ability to fathom how much He loves you.
If you want to dive deeper, I write about various aspects of the 5 E’s of Identity at ChristianConcepts.com, and also in my books.
Here are some questions you could answer in the comments:
Do you struggle more with feeling not enough or with feeling too much?How do these two lies not enough or too much show up in your life? What helps you put off the lies?
Matt Pavlik writes about identity and emotional healing at his blog, ChristianConcepts.com. As a child of God, Matt desires to see God’s truth become real in his life and in the lives of others. His books, To Identity and Beyond, Confident Identity, and Marriage from Roots to Fruits, contain practical exercises to help readers move God’s truth from head to heart, developing the resilience needed to overcome life’s challenges. He administers God’s grace to individuals and couples as a professional counselor at his private practice, New Reflections Counseling. Connect with him on Pinterest and Twitter.