Do you ever feel like you are not enough?
As a young girl, it was my talent and looks that left me wanting. I never felt pretty enough, smart enough, or talented enough. I am not going to lie and say that at fifty years old I am finally comfortable in my skin and grateful for the way that the Lord has fashioned me, especially when it means I have a beard and can’t read a spreadsheet. Because I am not. And in an attempt to appear like a good Catholic woman of a mature faith—one who has her priorities straight—I suppose I could just lie to you and say I have overcome all issues of vanity. But I just went to confession, and honestly? I don’t want to have to go back to the priest just yet. He’s new to our parish, and I really want to impress him with my extreme holiness.
So here is the truth. I do not feel like I am enough. And before you try to tell me otherwise, here is another truth. I am right. I am not enough. And guess what? You are not enough either. Isn’t that great news?
Let me explain before you cross my name off the list of potential future speakers at your next women’s conference.
The last few weeks have been difficult at home, especially for my daughter who is beginning to buckle beneath the weight of one disappointment after the next. And I would love to tell you exactly how she is feeling, but she won’t tell me. She doesn’t want to talk about it, and we used to talk about everything. She walks around, a shell of who I remember, pushing me away while she attempts to carry her cross on her own; refusing my help, when all I want to do is swoop in and swaddle her, read her Goodnight Moon, and sing a soft lullaby as I nurse her to sleep. She’s seventeen years old, by the way.
I was sharing with a friend how hard this season is for me; the helplessness of it all. “No matter what I do or say, what I have done or what I offer, it’s like…” But before I could finish my sentence, my friend finished it for me. “You are not enough.” And we both stood still for a moment as the words “not enough” flashed like a neon sign above our heads. I went home and pondered this all evening. If I, the woman who gave birth to and protected this child for seventeen years, is not enough for her, then who is?
When I can’t shake a word from my head it usually means God has written it on my heart, and so I immediately go to my friend Merriam-Webster and look up its meaning. Enough, by definition, is: in or to a degree or quantity that satisfies or that is sufficient or necessary for satisfaction. The words “satisfy” and “sufficient” jumped out at me because, thanks to studying Scripture, I recognize that those words are characteristics of God. Not me. Only God satisfies. Only God is sufficient. Therefore, only God is enough.
I was reminded of Saint Paul’s words in Philippians 4:12:
“I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance, and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.”
Paul’s secret to living contently had nothing to do with what he could give, and everything to do with the actual Giver. Why? Because on his own, he knew he was not enough. It was God in him that gave him the power and strength to persevere in every situation. And as much as I would like to believe that I am the savior, it is God that will fully supply me, my daughter, and every one of us with whatever we need (Philippians 4:19). Thank the Lord that I am not enough for my loved ones, for if I were, they would never need Jesus.
As I pondered the word enough, the Lord placed another word on my heart: contentment. I not only wrestled with feeling like I was never enough but also struggled with the fear of never having enough. Am I content with being not enough? Am I content with what I have? The answer is yes. Not only content but grateful.
Friends, after years of God trying to get my attention, painfully watching me turn to cheap substitutes and false idols in the hopes of feeling a sense of enough, it would be my weakness that eventually leads me to Him. It was my absolute inability to make things right, fix my problems, get a grip on my emotions, and climb my way out of a pit—that by the way, I dug myself—that I finally threw my hands up and said, “Enough! I can’t do this anymore. Please, God, I need your help.”
In any substance recovery program, this is what’s called hitting rock bottom. But you don’t have to struggle with addiction to experience this. We all have a rock bottom. It was when I finally had enough of seeking satisfaction and abundance in everything but God, that I turned to Him. And lo and behold, Saint Paul was right. Connect your life to Christ, and life stays together. Leave God out of your life, and it all falls apart. This is a lesson we all need to learn, and, dare I suggest, we don’t always like the Lord’s lessons, but man, they are good.
How do you know if your life is connected to Christ? Lisa Brenninkmeyer asks three questions in Lesson 2: Balance Through Contentment, from the Walking with Purpose young adult study Perspective, that can help us find the answer:
Is there something falling apart in your life?
Have you come to the end of your resources?
How can you invite Christ to hold it together for you?
Here’s the thing. We will all have a season, or two or three (but who’s counting), when life falls apart. The only thing more painful than your own falling apart is watching your loved one fall apart. And sure, we can try to jump in and do the saving ourselves. We can pretend that our love is enough and we are sufficient. We can throw out the safety net and cushion our loved one’s fall as many times as we’d like. But remember, Jesus fell three times on His way to Calvary, and not once did His mother try to prevent the crucifixion from happening. Instead, she followed Him, she kept her eyes on Him, and she stood with Him. And then, she waited for Him to rise. I have to believe we were left with this model for good reason.
Friends, if you feel like you are not enough—not enough to heal a hurt, not enough to make things better, not enough to fix what’s broken—do not despair, because not only are you in good company, but also, not enough is a really great place to be. For it is only when we admit our weaknesses that we can tap into His strength. It is only when we let go of self-sufficiency that we have free hands to hold fast to the One who is all-sufficient. You, beloved daughter, were never asked to be enough—only to open your heart to the Father who is.
True contentment is found only in Him. So follow Him. Keep your eyes on Him. Stand with Him. Then wait for Him to rise. He is more than enough.
Your sister in Christ,
 Lisa Brenninmeyer, Perspective: Keeping in Balance Young Adult Series, Part II, (Walking With Purpose, 2018) p. 40.
I remember my first official day of working for Walking with Purpose vividly. I hit the ground running in Chicago, surrounded by more than 8,000 college students at SLS 2018, a young adult conference hosted by FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.
This time was exciting for a variety of reasons, but more than anything, it is etched in my mind because I encountered the excitement of college-aged girls as Walking with Purpose answered a question they have had for years: What resources do you have to help us enter into Scripture and deepen our relationship with Jesus?
For the first time, Walking with Purpose had a response to the one big road block that has consistently planted itself in the way of young adult women seeking to dive into Scripture. We finally had something for the age group that is often left out to wander without much direction.
At SLS 2018, we released our very first Young Adult Bible study series based off of our foundational Opening Your Heart study. This Opening Your Heart Young Adult series is made up of three six-week Bible studies: Beloved, Unshaken, and Steadfast. Each study is meant to help women enter into a deeper relationship with Christ through Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic church.
Throughout the past year, it has been overwhelming to witness the reactions of young adult women when they realize that something has been created just for them. For so many of them, this was an answered prayer.
It is now, with great excitement that I announce our newest editions to the Young Adult Bible study series: The Keeping in Balance Young Adult series. Like the OYHYA series, these studies are based on a Walking with Purpose adult women's Bible studies. Based on Keeping in Balance, these studies, titled Harmony, Perspective, and Exhale, will be released this January, with a special appearance at this year's FOCUS SEEK2019 conference with over 14,000 college students expected.
Each part of this new series speaks to the heart of a busy young adult woman struggling to find balance in a world pulling her in a thousand different directions. I would have done anything to have had these Bible studies when I was in college.
In the first part, Harmony, young adult women will learn how to get a grip on their lives by looking at the importance of living authenticity, setting priorities, managing expectations, and nurturing healthy relationships. Additionally, they will also explore finding a balance between mediocrity and perfectionism so that they can become the women God created them to be without stressing or striving.
Then, in part two, Perspective, young women will learn how to become more content, grow stronger in areas where they've felt as if they failed a million times, and get moving when they feel like settling for the status quo. This part also explores how they can engage the culture as Catholics at a time when the reputation of Christians is at an all-time low.
Finally, in part three, Exhale (don't you just love that title), young women will discover how to establish a rhythm of rest, worship and surrender. For women longing for more simplicity in their life and are ready to order their thoughts so that they can experience inner peace (things we all want, am I right?), this Bible study will both inspire them and provide them with practical steps to make positive change.
As a twenty-two-year-old, I can attest to the fact that learning how to do all of these things while rooting myself in Scripture has been more than a challenge. As a young person, I am extraordinarily excited to dig into these focused studies.
I encourage you to take a moment to reflect upon the young women in your lives. Think about your daughters, granddaughters, nieces, goddaughters, sisters, and friends. Think about your high school students, your college students, and your young adults. Would any of them benefit from studies like these? My guess is that they would!
It has been a pleasure to witness the ways in which Walking with Purpose has spoken to the hearts of this Millennial generation of women over the past year and I am excited to watch them continue to do so. My hope is that you will be jump in and be a part of this.
In Grace and Peace,
P.S.: While the Keeping In Balance young adult studies won't be in stock until January, you can purchase Opening Your Heart studies for young adult women in our store.