Author Brennan Manning once wrote, "Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. Every other identity is an illusion." Yet, Manning wrestled with accepting this his entire life. Further, he noted, "In my experience, self-hatred is the most dominant malaise crippling Christians..." Manning, world renowned author, speaker, and a leading authority on the Christian walk, wrote eloquently about finding your true identity as a child of God. Still, at times Manning could only quiet the screaming lie of shame with the drink. God's child falling into addiction. Standing again only by the Hands of grace, relieved.
Why am I continually surprised that others carry the weight of asking, "am I enough?" Why does it strike me as uncommon when Phelps admits to therapy, Kevin Love to panic, CEO to sultry temptation, Manning to the bottle, or mega pastor to struggling with the mega idols of being accepted. Most of us without visible syndromes still carry the one of being an imposter. We believe our accomplishments are simply sparked by luck and fleeting, our shortcomings soon to be exposed when the proverbial shoe drops. It's Rocky Balboa admitting to Apollo Creed on the beach that he's scared, afraid he's not enough. Why do so very few of us really believe we really measure up? Why do we mask-up and pretend to be more or less? In his book, The Cure, John Lynch writes, "No one told me when I wear a mask, only my mask receives love." What happens when we've worn a mask so long that the only affirmation and love we know is that attributed to our mask? A tragic ruse.
I didn't even realize how much I had been trying to be what everyone expected, what everyone wanted, all while losing my reflection in the mirror - the person looking back becoming less familiar, but so well-liked. I met this pastor-guy a few years back who helped me peel back some of the layers. He led most conversations with vulnerability, admitting his struggles, ditches he was in asking for help to be pulled out. He asked me tough questions like, what's the thing beneath the thing? Why do I believe what I believe? Where do I really need God to show up? In my world of multiple-choice values, this guy was asking me to write an essay - unpacking who I was and who I was becoming. It was life-changing as God used the season to loosen my clenched-fists on my life and ask me to come before Him openhanded. Because, really, that's all we have, isn't it? Open hands to lay before a Creator God, our question shifting from "am I enough" to "God, you are enough, use me in your supernatural story of redemption." Lynch writes, “We do not see God as He is, and we do not see ourselves as we are." Grace allows us to see both in small reveals, reflections of heaven.
Manning's writing tells the story of someone moving from the overbearing strain of battling temptation, working so hard to be obedient, compliant, worthy - to understanding that nothing needs to be hidden. God knows. He's in it with us, loving us unconditionally through the thick of it all. Walking with us through the fog, toward who we were created to become - all light. We needn't hide.
We each have our unique story. We each have something difficult to carry that we are tempted to hide. Pretending is a lie fueled by shame. Truth is quite the opposite, this unfurling of grace - an invitation to stand before God, openhanded, receiving. It's the only way we are able to provide the value and worth that we so desperately seek - to first receive the love, grace, and identity of God; hope crashing and joy spilling out into the world around us, extraordinarily effortless, like waves.
Because He is, we are enough. Here's to living boldly, as if we believe it this new year.