When You're Feeling Like You're Not Good Enough
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1
If anyone should have hesitated to say those words, it was Paul the Apostle. By human standards, no one could have come back from killing and persecuting countless Christians like he did. But Paul did what many people struggle to do to this day: he surrendered himself to God’s grace. Then he told other Christians that God paid the full price for them and they had no reason to feel condemned.
Easier to read than to believe, right?
Many times, I’ve acted as if Paul’s words were not enough to convince me that God accepts me as is. At school, I had to finish projects weeks ahead of time and spend hours perfecting a single assignment. At church, I had to attend all the Bible studies and sing hours worth of worship songs. None of those things were bad, per se. However, to feel good enough, I had to prove myself as a top student to my teachers, perfect daughter to my parents, and faultless Christian to God. Even when I let go of that mindset and remember how much God loves me, I find myself slipping back to the performance-oriented mindset as soon as I go about my business.
Recently I read a fascinating insight from a spiritual study guide about identity: Often we believe that if we receive a revelation of God’s acceptance (or others’ acceptance), we’ll feel good enough. However, if we believe that we’re not acceptable to ourselves, then we’ll never truly believe that God should accept us either.
We must address the root of our self-condemnation if we’re going to believe God loves us for us, not for “being good enough.” When you do something spiritual for the sake of doing it or feel too ashamed to come to God with your problems, you’re trying to prop up a perfect image of yourself that doesn’t exist. That image is an idol. It’s as unhelpful as the dead wooden idols that Israel worshipped. You should come to God and repent. If you feel guilty afterward for it, that is not from God. He is not mad at you for thinking that you must be perfect, but He doesn’t want perfectionism to distract you from His love and grace either.
Read Scripture that reminds you that what you do matters much less to God than who you are: His beloved child. He loved you before you did anything. Comforting yourself with that truth might be the only thing that keeps you going on some days. And that’s okay! There’s not an easy how-to guide to shift our mindset. I still struggle with it now. This process requires consistency, perseverance, and gentleness with ourselves. It’s a constant practice of catching your self-talk and redirecting it, of praying to repent and praying to forgive yourself.
Remember, you already have God’s forgiveness.