Living a lie

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2 Corinthians 12:9. Each time he said, “No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.” Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities

There are two similar experiences in my life, separated by over twenty-five years, that remain open in my mind just like that stubborn browser tab that won’t close, even when I shut off the computer. These experiences don’t stay at the forefront of my consciousness, but hover at the perimeter shaping my thoughts, and hopefully my actions and words, on a daily basis.

The first experience happened during my graduate school years; the second, last week. 

When I was doing my Ph.D. work, there was a woman at my church who would barely look at me, much less speak to me. We were in a small church and in the same small class of young married couples. I tried repeatedly with no success to initiate a conversation with her. Andy had frequent good conversations with her husband. Even in groups, she would talk with everyone but me… Finally, I approached a mutual friend asking “what have I done to offend ________? I don’t know but I want to apologize and try and fix it”. (My big arrogance and likewise, big mouth made me assume I was the culprit needing to eat crow, as was normal then and now, unfortunately.) My friend went off to investigate and a week or so later, returned with a most surprising answer.

“____________ says that since you’re getting your Ph.D., she doesn’t feel like she is good enough or has anything to talk with you about.” That statement crushed me then and still does now. She believed the lie that her achievements (or lack of them by cultural standards) automatically made her undeserving or lesser. Thankfully, with time and perseverance by our mutual friend and me, I was able to become friends with her and spend sweet time with her before Andy and I graduated and moved away.

And in these sweet times, I was the one gifted by her natural talents for homemaking in amazing cooking, decorating, and crafting that I could never begin to duplicate with or without any of my degrees or awards. She could make gourmet soup from last week’s leftovers and serve it on a table beautifully set with arrangements made from plants in her yard with placemats and napkins made from extra scrap cloth remaining after making her self-designed dress. And that was just the beginning of all the one-of-a-kind art filling her home.

Yet last week, “it was deja’ vu, all over again” as Yogi Berra or my father would’ve said.

I was in the spotlight for something I was given. This was nothing I’d earned; this was all grace. Yet when I approached a woman to meet her and share a bit of conversation and life together, her response was the same as ________’s years ago. She lowered her head, barely meeting my eyes, saying “oh, I’m just nobody” when I asked her name. That statement crushed me then and still does now.

She believed that same lie my friend did years ago. The lie that she was lesser because she hadn’t done this or couldn’t do that. And unfortunately, neither she nor my friend are alone in believing the lie of lesser.     

Far too many Christians live in the graveyard of the lesser. Their minds, hearts, and days trapped in a vicious hamster wheel of trying to measure up to an unknown, unachievable standard of enough. Enough intelligence, enough physical beauty, enough accomplishment, enough prestige, enough ownership of what they can never earn or obtain, much less deserve. All that striving without realizing that more than enough has already been given to them by the One Who gave everything for them.

Only Jesus is the Enough.

Enough to pay the penalty of sin, death, and hell. Enough to satisfy the doubts of fear, guilt, and regret. Enough to overcome the challenges in the upward path stretching into eternity.

Strong enough, wise enough, close enough, tender enough, faithful enough – yes, that’s my Jesus!

He crafted _____________, the woman last week whose name I never learned, you, and me all with perfect purpose, plan, and power (see Psalm 139:13-16). Jesus doesn’t just know our names; He has engraved them on His hands (see Isaiah 49;16). His blood, His life purchased for us a new life now and new names to come (see Revelation 2:17).

The Christ in me speaks to the Christ in you, no matter what you’ve done (or not), with the same words, “I am here and I love you.” Only Christ is the Enough to help me trust Him today and thus, to overcome the lie of lesser. And if He can do it for me, He can do it for you too.  

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.

written by and copyrighted to Beth Madison, Ph.D., 2021

Published by Beth Madison

author, speaker, learner

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