I’m not Enough and that’s OK

Editor’s Note: Malinda’s column was cut off due to an error in production last week. The following is the column in it’s entirety.

“Do you ever feel small?” I asked my companion, because as I gazed into the clear night sky full of twinkling, brilliant stars, that’s exactly what I felt. Small.

The night was clear as I stared into the unobstructed expanse of the heavens. It was a rare moment of peace and silence, for me a then college-aged student. Where the dorms and campus were always bustling, this moment was tranquil. The heavens were declaring the glory of God, and I was listening.

It was the first time I can remember palpably tasting my insignificance. Sure, I knew what it felt to feel unwanted, unloved, discardable, but this smallness was new. It was different and magical. It was a defining moment of knowing, unequivocally, that there was something much bigger than myself.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2)

Feeling small, I felt content. I felt wrapped in the vastness of God’s creation, knowing I wasn’t the center of it, but still a part of it. I sighed with pleasure in the ordinary, sitting-on-the-steps-of-a-front-porch moment, that had suddenly turned extraordinary and unforgettable.

This is the scene I think about when I reach the climax of the book of Job. The friends had stopped talking, finally, and the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind: “Where were you, Job,” He asks, “when I laid the foundation of the earth?” “Who shut in the sea with doors?” “Have you commanded the morning?” “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or of the hail?” “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?” “Do you give the horse his might?” “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?” (selections of Job 38-40)

To this, Job must humbly and honestly admit that no, he wasn’t there. That he has not, nor ever will, shut in the sea or command the morning. He must admit that he doesn’t even know where the storehouses of snow or hail are, and has no idea when each wild animal gives birth. He must recognize that the strength of animals comes from somewhere, but not from him.

“Then Job answered the LORD and said: ‘Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:4)

We live in a culture that rebels against the very idea of insignificance. Where Job comes face-to-face with being qalal–to be slight, be swift, be trifling, be of little account, be light–and covers his mouth in submission, often our collective tendency is to argue louder.

It’s what the previous chapters, 3-37, display as friends first arrive to comfort and quickly jump into assumption, accusation and argument. It’s exhausting to read through. In reading Job, I was struck by the similarities between the back-and-forth in the discourse and social media culture. Want to be right? Just get louder and more obstinate.

This is an age where people, seemingly both within and outside of the church, march on with the mantra, “I am enough.” With fist raised, we declare allegiance to self and the power of our hands, our thoughts, our opinions, our knowledge. We can see that displayed between Job and his friends, too.

In a way, I can understand some of the drive behind the concept. I was abandoned by my biological father when I was a young toddler. His choice left me wounded and reactionary. At times I’ve struggled with feeling worthless–unloved, unwanted, discardable. And I think some of the drive behind the idea “I am enough; you are enough” comes from fighting our culture’s definition of what makes someone valuable. I think this is a good battle to fight. Every person, as created in the image of God–Imago Dei–is valuable and deserving of care, compassion and dignity.

But there’s also danger lurking within the “I am enough”mantra. Without Christ as Savior and Lord, I am never enough. You are never enough. We are never enough. Because of this, it’s OK to feel small. Job’s smallness doesn’t come from his lack of human worth and dignity as God’s created one, but instead, from comparing himself with the Lord’s mighty expanse.

I love being reminded of God’s vastness. He is marvelous! And like Job, I’ve come to terms with the reality that I’m small. This acceptance doesn’t mean my self-esteem is struggling. The reality that I’m small hasn’t made my value and dignity as a human suffer. Instead, realizing that in light of God’s transcendence, I AM small, has been comforting. I’m content with my position.

I don’t have to have all the answers, because God does. I don’t have to understand everything that happens and why, because God does. I don’t have to be enough, because God is. And you don’t have to be enough either.

When we serve a big, mighty, magnificent God who laid the foundations of the world, holds the ocean in its boundaries, ordains the twinkling of the night sky, the sunrise and the sunset, who knows the number of grains of sand and hairs on heads, the God who is inscrutable and near all in the same breath, the God who adopts us and calls us His children, we have no need to “be enough.” Our worth comes from Him.

May we grab hold of a big view of a mighty God and not let go. May we prefer to be small, delighting in the Lord over elevating our individualism. May we prefer to be God’s servant rather than a slave to self–a doorkeeper in God’s house rather than dwelling in tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84:10b)

And may we, like Job, readily say we are of small account in light of our LORD, believing and cherishing his unsearchable yet ever-near ways.

Malinda Just has been writing Lipstick & Pearls for the Free Press since 2008. To read more of her writing, visit her blog, www.malindajust.com.