Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good Enough

When I was in middle school, I was an avid writer. My teachers thought I was better than I ever thought I was. There was an opportunity to take a master class with a local northwest writer and my teacher selected myself and 6 or 7 other people, all older than me. Some were even in high school. Wow. One of the people in my class wrote a story called "Good Enough" and it was about a young girl who admired her older brother but how nothing her older brother did was ever good enough for their mother. Her story was actually selected to be published in a literary magazine that the school made and included full colored photos. Both were of a man sitting on a curb wearing a hooded sweatshirt. The first one he had his head in his hands and the second he was looking at something in the distance. Feelings of sorrow and hope. You could almost read it in the photos: "today I'm not good enough, but maybe tomorrow I will be."

Whenever I hear the phrase "good enough" I think of that story and those images. 

I've made some mistakes while at work the past couple of days. What's the big deal, right? Everyone makes mistakes. Often I feel that while everyone WILL make mistakes I SHOULDN'T make mistakes. I know that I'm not perfect, and I don't expect I ever will be upon this earth, but when I make a big flashing mistake it's hard for me to overlook. 

Rob Bell gave a series of sermons on forgiveness that I've listened to multiple times. One of the sermons was called "Living by the Books" or something along those lines. He talks about this system of checks and balances and how many of us approach others with an accounts balance sheet. We list all of their good deeds in the (+) column and all of their bad deeds in the (-) column. Whichever side has a greater balance is what determines the amount of effort we put into the relationship. Rob suggests that often we approach God with this same book of checks and balances. The whole point of the message was reconciliation and how Jesus came to destroy the books.

What I realized yesterday and today, in between lots of crying, is that I live my life by "the books". I don't determine or measure the lives of others by the books, but I measure my own by them. When I make a mistake, I can almost see the calculating of my balance in the eyes of others. This system, I'm sure, is in my imagination but it feels very real. One mistake and I'm back at ground zero and feel I have to make things up to those impacted by my error. 

How is it I can counsel my high school girls and friends in not needing to be perfect, and believe in a God of grace, but convince myself that at the end of the day trying my best and falling short just isn't good enough? Maybe I need to reed The Ragamuffin Gospel again.


a girl who dreams said...

how's life Suzanne? You should post more since you are a great writer!

Suzanne Townsend said...

Thanks, Deborah! I keep forgetting to blog. But after I do I get addicted, ya know?