Am I Good Enough?

Some background. I’m a Christian – a lifelong one. The first 15-20 years I practiced Christianity because my parents made all of us attend church and Sunday School every week. Every week. I don’t remember ever missing a Sunday. Proverbs 22:6 is true. Bring your children up in the way of the Lord and they won’t stray from it. After the age of 18 or so, I attended church of my own volition. And now I get my sons up every Sunday and always have for church and Sunday School. We are United Methodists. And one of the best gifts I received this past season of Lent is when my 16 year old came in the kitchen last Sunday evening after church had been cancelled that morning due to a freak snow storm, and said to me – “I hate it when we don’t go to church on Sunday, because it makes the whole day feel weird”.
I’m not a zealot, but my faith and beliefs and love of Christ and of my church have steadily grown with each passing year. I read my Bible every morning. I pray every day, sometimes all day as I go through my daily chores and errands. I go to the Lord daily with my joys and concerns. And yesterday, during Easter services, I could barely get through the last hymn, “Christ has Risen”, because I was fighting back tears with the knowledge and love that God sacrificed his only son so that we may have eternal life and of my belief that Jesus rose from the dead and continues to walk with us through these scary times. I was nearly crying because I do love Christ that much and am grateful for his many many blessings.
Some more background. I’ve never been the most confident person on the block, but my confidence has also grown with each passing year. And at this stage of the game, I’m fairly sure of who I am, and am very aware of my strengths and weaknesses. Especially my weaknesses. Anne Lamott described herself in one of her books as something like, an insecure narcissist, and I can completely relate. But I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I like who I am or at least I’ve accepted myself – 80% of the time. But like everyone, I’ve made many mistakes in the past so that acceptance has been a long-time coming. I continue to err frequently now, albeit not so flagrantly. So I don’t like myself 20% of the time and am still not proud of some decisions I make or of some my behaviour or my words or my attitude. But I feel I have a close relationship with my God and have complete faith he is with me always, and I know I’ve been blessed so many times in my life they’re too numerous to count. I depend on him with 100% faith. I do actually feel he is always with me in everything. Surely losing patience at times – but always with me.
Yet, how much should he be expected to take from one person? Lately I’ve been thinking that maybe he won’t like me when I meet him in person – when I cross over. There’s been plenty of people who haven’t liked me in my life – but most of those people were ones who, looking back, were people whose opinion today wouldn’t matter to me although at the time when I was very insecure, their aversion of me really stung, especially because I didn’t know the reason for it. Now I realize they didn’t always have a reason; most of them were just mean and regarded most people with contempt. But what if Jesus, with his infinite compassion and love for us all, actually doesn’t extend this love towards me? Maybe I’m just not good enough. I teach the first and second graders in my Sunday School class that as disciples, we need to try to be good people with loving hearts at all times. But I don’t always practice what I preach. I get offended easily and then get angry at the offenders. I rarely confront, but I imagine fantastic fantasies of confronting that person in real life, or I imagine scenarios in which the offender is exposed for the whole community to see. Needless to say, God “sees” or hears these fantasies also and ain’t impressed. I hold grudges. Although I’ve gone through phases where I do try to help others on a regular basis, including the elderly or the poor in our church, more often than not, I go through even longer phases where I keep to myself, rarely performing any acts of service for anyone. I don’t help my elderly mother as much as I should. I tithe, but am a terrible steward of my money and my time. I engage in gossip occasionally. I judge others sometimes, even tho guilt accompanies my judgements. I get mad at things or attitudes of people in my own congregation. I complain constantly, it seems. I’m vain and care too much about how I look. I focus too much on myself.
So lately, I’ve been really worried that I’m not good enough. For God. Are my intentions good enough? I don’t think so. Does my guilt erase my gossiping and my judgmental attitude? I don’t think so. Recently I’ve heard the word “meh” a couple of times, a Jewish term for describing something that’s so-so, or something that’s not so great. So, what if when I finally get to stand in front of Jesus, he shrugs his shoulders and says “meh”. And then I don’t get to stay with him and all my loved ones that have gone before me? What if I’m not good enough? The Bible says that only a “few” will be saved. Well, how many is a few? Obviously there are many many Christians who have much more loving hearts than I do.
I hope God surely sees that at my core I am a good person. I cannot stand seeing anyone treated unjustly. I try to be kind and loving to most people. I try to be good, but do I try hard enough? I get sucked in too easily to life’s little bad and ugly moments. Moments or words or attitudes that I regret and that I’m not proud of. And then I ask God to forgive me. Constantly. And I’m sure I am forgiven, but what if his Love isn’t infinite enough to include such a sinner as I – a person who consistently tries to be a good disciple, but just as consistently, fails on a daily basis? A person who says she’s a good person, and who tries to be a good person, but who really isn’t a lot of the time. I feel like one of those people in the Bible who say they’re a Christian, but whose actions don’t depict it. Do I even deserve his Love? Are my faults outweighing my goodness? I want to know exactly how good enough I have to be – to be one of the few. I wish there were more definite guidelines or standards. Yes, I follow the Ten Commandments and try to follow the Beatitudes, but no one is perfect. But how perfect do I need to try to be? If only a few are saved, then even God must have a cut-off point. And I wish I knew what constituted that cut-off. Am I screwing up one too many times? Am I remorseful enough? What if I never get comfortable enough or brave enough to talk about my faith to a stranger or invite someone to church and actually offer to pick them up and take them with me? What if God, while seeing that I am trying, concedes that I could have tried a hell of a lot harder?
There’s been a lot of stuff written on how people stress themselves out trying to be perfect in all areas in this society and that’s why we fail. Well, I would never be accused of being one of those people, but I do think we all need to try to be as perfect as we can be in our discipleship. Not with superficial stuff or jobs or with “having it all” – but with our hearts and our words and our actions. I need to suck it up and finally hold myself accountable and stop the bad stuff. Stop the gossiping; squash the critical attitude; get my values on track and quit worrying about stuff that doesn’t really matter; get rid of my apathy. I need to be more grateful for these days he blesses me with and make them count. I need to quit excusing these behaviours with the knowledge that “God will still love me anyway – I mean, if he loves and forgives murderers, surely he’ll forgive me for saying that little mean thing about that person”. I need to try to be “good enough”.
Maybe, like with my faith and my confidence and my relationship with Christ, my actions and my words and my attitude will get better with age. I will try even harder not to take his love and forgiveness for granted. I’ll continue to pray and study the gospels and while I don’t exactly expect Jesus to say, “Well Done, faithful servant” when I meet him (although I wish my life would warrant that), I do hope he says something like “You made it – by the skin of your teeth but you made it!”, or You receive the award for one of the Most Improved – welcome” – or even, “Maybe not well done exactly, but good enough – you’re in!”.

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