“Jen Hatmaker’s going to be on the Today Show this morning, do you know her,” H asked me through the suds of toothpaste and the purr of his electric toothbrush. I was standing at the sink, pulling my headphones out of my ears, sweat dripping down my back after an early morning walk.
“Oh, she is,” I said excitedly, “I love her and no, I don’t know her the way you are asking. I’m sure it’s about her blog post that went viral.”
H knows my writing friends by name now, though he’s never met any of them in person. It isn’t uncommon for him to read something on-line or in this case on television and recognize a writer’s name, then ask me if I know them. I take the liberty of showing him photos when the opportunity arises. It helps lessen the confusion when I talk about more than one person who shares the same name.
That’s what happened over the weekend, when we meandered through Barnes and Noble after eating salads on tall chairs and people watching behind our sunglasses. We were on a rare date night when I spotted Heather Kopp’s new book, Sober Mercies, stacked on a table among others. “Here’s Heather,” I said pointing to her picture on the inside jacket, “this is her new book, I can’t wait to read it.”
Then I pulled my phone from my purse, took an Instagram, shared it on Facebook and Twitter and tagged Heather in it. You knew that was coming, right?
As I scan the shelves of two small rows holding stacks of Christian titles, I realize that I know many of the authors personally since I started blogging just under two years ago. I’ve shared my writing on their websites, conversed through email, Skyped and texted with a few, even hugged the necks of some.
So why do I feel disconnected? Or is it that I fear disconnection?
“Oh look, there is Holley’s book,” I say pointing to You’re Made for a God Sized Dream on the top row. I turn the cover facing it outward on the shelf. “Ya know, the Christian writing world is actually quite small isn’t it?”
H nods; arches his eyebrows and smiles. Not front page news to him.
Sometimes I get caught up squinting through a porthole and miss standing in front of the picture window.
The same way I lose perspective when I falsely imagine the lives of other people and decide that I’m not enough in comparison.
Because when we compare ourselves, we are rarely enough.
You fill in the blank. I’m not _________ enough. Because we all have the blanks you know? That’s one of the fallacies of not enough-ville. We think everyone else is enough and we got the leftovers. Or we just got left, period. Or passed over.
There is a tendency for me to build an entire landscape from a patch of my own near-sighted perspective. And miss the truth.
In God’s economy, we are enough. Because He is enough.
Forget that? Yeah, me too.
So how do we reclaim what we know to be true? That we are enough, just the way we are today, sitting bare faced with two day old hair in pajamas at noon.
We don’t allow circumstances to bully us.
We tell ourselves the truth by steeping in The Truth.
And we talk to someone that we trust who will empathize with us. Not someone who will tell us what we want to hear or rush to fix. Just empathize and pray.
It’s in the place of community that our slanted perceptions right themselves and become clear pathways of perspective. And we become who God created us to be. Enough.
Sometimes empathy comes in a nod or the vulnerable Facebook status update of a blogger after an interview on the Today Show who says, “You guys! I did it! And I didn’t die! I was wearing dirty clothes, but whatever. Russell Brand and I chatted in between his trips to the bathroom to throw up. The hosts were AWESOME. I was a giant she-man among them. They are tiny people. Yay, Today Show!!”
And empathy can show up in your inbox too. Words of a friend who just happens to be the author of the book you held in your hands at a bookstore. The one who believes in you and your writing and tells you the truth:
I think as writers we make the mistake to think that if God is asking us to do something that he will then prove it by making it easy. He will prove it by making it successful. He will prove it by letting it happen quickly and feel like a miracle–TaDa! We think our sweet spot is the same thing as our comfort zone and the two have nothing to do with each other, you know?
Yes, I know. I’m grateful for the reminder.
This post is inspired by the first four chapters of Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and is linked with SheLoves Magazine for their Reclaim series, Laura, Jen, Jennifer, and Emily.
Mmmm, true words. I especially liked the line: “In God’s economy, we are enough. Because He is enough.” I continually have to remind myself that this writing journey isn’t about me, it’s about Him. And He wouldn’t have asked me to come along if He didn’t want me. But some days it is hard to believe I am enough. I thank you for this! 🙂
I’m right there with you Jen. Thanks for walking with me.
The lie of not good enough is loud, and I love when we can stand together and speak the truth louder! Stopping by from SDG. Blessings!
Yes, there is something powerful in speaking the truth isn’t there? Especially in the loving embrace of community.
LOVE this, Shelly.
a writer courageous enough to own up to this struggle is more than a top-shelver to me. and a confession like this might not keep you up late finishing manuscripts, but it’s just as much work, i think. it’s the work of faith to believe you are/i am who He says, not who *they* say.
so glad to be walking beside you, even states away, friend.
Oh my Kelli, you humble me friend. I’m so honored to be walking with you. The book, the discussion, the acceptance . . . its all healing and holy, ya know?
Reading your blog has inspired me, helped me to see beauty, and tutored me on writing beautiful sentences, but my favorite is that it gives me a glimpse into your gentle, beautiful soul. I’m not just saying that either. I think that so much of what God has for each of us comes with His timing and our continued obedience for a long time in the same direction. You are so gifted and God has great plans for you. I’m looking forward to watching all He moves you into. It’s coming Shelly. (and I love the sheep)
Rhonda, I’m so . . .just overwhelmed and grateful and teary as I read your comment. It truly blesses me, I felt God’s gracious presence in your words and I’m thankful. Thank you for being here and walking with me.
This post resonates with me on so many levels. It’s embarrassing to admit how many times I forget that in Him, I am enough. He is my qualifier. When I find myself all angsty and sad that I’m not sitting on the shelves at the local bookstore, I am quickly reminded that whatever He blesses me with, whatever my writing journey looks like, whatever my LIFE looks like, if i am living with Him in my focus, then it is enough. I am so thankful for your willingness to share this encouragement, and for your heart for the Lord along the way. it’s a great gift to so many of us.
I know Kris, I feel embarrassed to admit that I need constant reminding of what I know is true. But where did we ever come up with the thinking that we won’t need it, ever again? I don’t know anyone like that, do you? Our forgetfulness is a constant reminder of our neediness of our Savior. And I’ll take that any day over thinking I’ve got life nailed.
I love your words here Shelly. I struggle with feeling not-enough too, but until reading your post and thinking about it, I have never been able to put my finger on exactly what my not-enough is. I just thought I was…not enough. As I read your post, I remembered meeting you at the Jumping Tandem Retreat and that you knew who I was before being introduced. That meant so much to me! And tonight I realized I always think I’m not enough for people to remember me. And I have thought this for as long as I can remember. So, I thank you. 🙂 Now I know specifically what I need to be praying about.
Thanking God with you for epiphanies Laura and praying with you. May you hear His words over you and those “not enoughs” diminish in their wake. So grateful for your honesty. And of course I know you, silly.
I believe in you. I believe in the Jesus IN you. You are totally enough. And you really do know that. You know it enough to tell the rest of us to remember. And that’s the mattering part — all of us helping each other remember Who’s got this!
Jennifer, you are one of those friends who offers an empathetic heart. You encourage me when you champion my writing and you remind me often that I am enough. Thank you.
I do believe that it is God ordained that once again you touch my heart and soul with your writing. God has been speaking to me through various authors about how our lives are changed through community. Thanks for echoing that message.
I love it when God does that Leslie, provides sacred echoes of a message He knows we are ready to receive. And your listening, abiding heart makes me smile. Thank you for telling me. It always blesses me to know.
Hey there, Shelly. I went to Jen Hatmaker’s blog—She is HILARIOUS!!! Loved her post!!! Been there, done that.
You, my friend, are more than enough for me. Hope that counts for something. You are still one of my top 3! And, apparently, as I’ve been told by a mutual on-line friend of our’s, you are every bit as lovely and kind and Christ-centred as your words here indicate. You are ‘anointed’ for this, Shelly! Cannot wait to read your memoir, which won’t go on my top shelf…but in the basket beside my bed, where I keep my mostest favouritest books! Love you!
She IS hilarious Jillie. So glad you went over and got a few laughs. Thank you for your kind words and yes, of course, you matter to me and your opinion does count. Thank you for believing in me and never being shy about expressing that. I love you too, bunches.
I love all the photos of sheep…what a great reminder of our Shepherd! and I really love the reminder to not let circumstances bully us.
So glad you put that together David, about the sheep and Jesus being our shepherd in this post. So glad to see you here in the comments. Love having you around.
Kris, I think I’ll just ditto your comment here. In bed last night, my husband and I were having the very same kind of conversation you reference, Shelly. It comes in waves — this wondering if I’m enough, realizing that I’m not (in a good way) and that he is, questioning if I’ve somehow “missed it” or if I’m failing because I’m not doing the right things or enough things, and on and on… Last night, my husband asked me, “Do you worry about this because you really feel like you’re missing where God is leading you, or because you imagined that it might look different?” Such a good question, and I have to imagine it’s the latter. So I’m on this journey with you — laying down my ideas of perfect and success to embrace this one life, to show up and to reject the lies of comparison. And, as Kelli says, this requires such faith. I am inspired by you, and thank you for your vulnerability and beautiful words, Shelly! You bless me!
My husband is so good with coaching questions like the one your husband gave you. Thankful for that. Because we need to answer for ourselves, not be told how to think or live. We own the outcome when we decide and wrestle for ourselves. And since you referred to Kris’s comment, I’ll refer to my response to her. Ditto. Love your heart Ashley, you are some good company.
It’s in the place of community that our slanted perceptions right themselves and become clear pathways of perspective. And we become who God created us to be. Enough. yes…yes…I love watching…though it be from a distance how your heart is following after God…His heart…and you allowing the rest to follow…continue to wrestle to keep it in that order…than all is His love…all is His grace and all will be well…blessings
Thanks for watching, even from a distance Ro. Knowing that blesses me.
Thank you for this refined post. I am glad to read it today.
This is what my husband emailed me: “Sometimes you don’t accept yourself. Sometimes you don’t feel how precious you are. But I, I am happy with you. And you’re so beautiful.”
Suddenly I knew it again: I am enough. And throug your blog I know: “Because He is enough.”
You have blessed me. Thanks.
I’m so glad that you have a husband who loves you like that. And I’m thankful for the way God speaks through sacred echoes. You have blessed ME with your comment.
Hi Shelly, I’m new here from SDG! This post really spoke to me, especially these words:
I think as writers we make the mistake to think that if God is asking us to do something that he will then prove it by making it easy. He will prove it by making it successful. He will prove it by letting it happen quickly and feel like a miracle–TaDa!
Because I think I’m getting some inklings from Him on a couple of things, and they won’t be something that is “easy” for me. And because I didn’t commit to something recently because it was “hard for me”. Ooops.
Thank you for the reminder. I think. Heeheehee!!
Margo @ Legacy of a Single Girl
Margo, welcome. So glad you stopped by from SDG, what a lovely community of writers. And may He give you the courage you need to put legs to those inklings and see them come to life.
yes, darlin’ yes! I FINALLY have enough air to breathe and to try to find my way back to the waters of my friends words, perhaps to find my own soon (?) – and to come back to these truths? told in the beautiful way of unclothed, uncovered, standing in your worth just by exposing the heart. *so* glad for you. for your friendship, and your words to my heart. love you, Shelly. You are always enough.
Oh what a gift your voice is to me here in this space. I’ve missed you my friend and I’m excited to see where He takes you in this new season of wading back in the water. It’s warm in here, you’ll find your place in no time.
I haven’t written much lately–I think I took a dangerous detour into Enough-ville.
Today, as a writer, God asked me to write. And I did. And that, for today, is enough.
I saw you in my inbox Nancy, it’s been a while. Can’t wait to read what God is saying to you.
Some days I am so there, wholehearted and assured, faith-filled and confident that even breathing is enough. But then there are days–like today–when I slip a little, catch myself looking for the staff of the One who leads me. He was near. I hear *your* voice here and can I say it is beautiful. I don’t know if you had to shrug the shame to wear empathy but you, my friend, empathize like no one I know. You are gift to this world–to me. Sometimes I wonder if you really get that. None of us lay our heads at night down having done all right. But by the grace of God, we can lay down and be okay with it, not let it consume and keep us from our callings—at the least we showed up. Thank you for being brave. You inspire.
I know you won’t be surprised that I’m nodding my head and saying, “Yeah, me too.” I’m so glad you are hearing my voice. I thought I had it figured out but God seems to be doing a bit of fine tuning. There was some static that needed to be cleared up.
‘Don’t have any great insights to add. Just want you to know, Shelly, you touched my heart deeply with your encouraging words. “I am enough because God is enough.” That’s a statement worth repeating every hour! Thank you for another inspiring post that fills my mind with plenty of food for thought, and great uplift for my spirit.
Humbled Nancy, but mostly delighted to know you have been encouraged in stopping off here for a bit.
I ran a religious bookstore for several years and knew many of the authors personally. It is easy to compare ourselves, but also nice to know without a shadow of a doubt that we are all human. I think the blogosphere makes it easier to write, but also easier to feel lost in sea of voices. But then there are those incredible moments when you really connect with what someone is saying at a deep heart level, and a friendship is born. That is what I made my focus early on, and I have been so glad. Thank you for your lovely and honest writing. You are a wonderful encouragement.
I ran a bookstore too Emmie, several actually. I have a marketing background but books have always been a part of me. I love the wisdom you share . . . all of it. I read your comment twice, well maybe three times. You’ve encouraged me too.
I think I just breathed. Correction I think I just realized I read this whole post holding my breath in disbelief that there are more folks out there like me who from time to time think they could be, or do more. And when I did breathe, I took in the reminder that right now, in front of this screen on this Wednesday morning with a full day ahead of me, I am enough. Thanks for sharing Shelly.
Yes, we’re in this together Ahyana. I’m so glad to be walking beside you. And yes, you are definitely, without a doubt, enough.
I have decided to put borders around the thoughts I allow to accept. When these self-degrading thoughts came knocking, I wouls just refuse to accept them. It gets easier over time and before you know you do it sort of naturally. I do this with all the lies the enemy whispers in my ears. This seems to work for me!
Much love XX
Good advise and lots of wisdom Mia. Healthy boundaries are always good.
Yes, yes, and yes!
“Because when we compare ourselves, we are rarely enough.
…In God’s economy, we are enough. Because He is enough.”.
Thanks, Shelly. I need to hear this several times a day.
Me too, several times a day Lisa. You are in good company.
oh this hits me so squarely, dear friend.
in this community, my own lack of self-worth really echoes. sometimes i feel like i’m not “right” for this, like i don’t fit because i haven’t written a book, i haven’t spoken at a conference, i haven’t done all the things that these other women that surround me have done. and i feel like i’m the little kid pulling at the sleeves of the “big kids,” squeaking and being more of a mosquito than anything else.
and then i realize that He is my qualifier, my portion. He makes me worthy, even if i do feel like a tiny speck in the grand scheme of these amazing women in the blogging realm. thank you for this reminder that even though i am small, He sees me as mighty.
We can be small and mighty can’t we Rachel? Thanks for being honest and vulnerable. I’m sure there isn’t a writer who can’t relate to your thoughts here.
Yep. I know about “Not Enough.” I think maybe I’ve given too much of my listening time to that one.
Obviously, I have too Deidra.
I am glad that I stopped by here this evening. “Not Enough-ville” is where I’ve been living for a long time now, but most especially since my surgery. I know it will sound silly, but I don’t feel female enough. The surgery almost 3 years ago took parts of me that made me female and I can’t find any logic that says my husband really wants a woman that isn’t fully woman anymore. I can’t compete with the “real” women out there, those with youth and vitality and the toned bodies that I’ll never have no matter how hard I might work to get there.
I have friends that are great at reminding me that I am how He made me, that I am made in His image, that He doesn’t make junk. I heart them. I know they are right, but my heart longs to be enough here, with the people around me, those that see the outside and discount the heart-me.
Thank you for your post. I needed it today.
You’ve expressed why community is so very important Suzanne, we need each other for the purpose of cultivating the truth. It helps us to live in freedom. Glad you stopped by. May you continue to hear the truth and believe it.
Thank you, Shelly. May He bless you for being such a blessing to others.
This hits so close to home. I actually had to stop reading in the middle of it because I was fighting green feelings like envy. And then I do things like close my laptop and go outside for the day with my family and remember that there’s a big world out there that I’ve been missing out on by staring at my screen.
Oh gosh Emily, it never occurred to me that someone would struggle with envy on this post. But you know, your vulnerability in being honest about that, it speaks to me deeply. Because I respect you so much as a writer and as an artist and knowing you struggle the same way I do, it removes the illusion I create for myself that tells me I’m not enough. We all struggle with the same things don’t we? Our circumstances may be different but our struggles are the same. And we need each other to be reminded of that truth.
I’m struggling to wrap my heart around this truth. This being enough because God says I already am. The way you speak of this is not just an encouragement, but a call to trust in that and keep. on. writing! I am always mightily encouraged by this writing community – and your words, though I don’t often comment, Shelly, are a huge part of that encouragement and inspiration.
Beautifuly written. Thank you!