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Life, Writing

When Our Best Isn’t Enough

If you’re at all much of a reader, you probably have your favorites. Even if you’re not, you’ve likely (hopefully) read something at some point in your life that left you thinking, “That was awesome! How did the author do that?”

According to popular legend, we writers sit down at a computer, hammer out some words, double-check spelling and grammar, and hit “send” on an email bound for a publisher. At least, if we’re any good, that’s all it takes to produce a great story. Right?

We wish.

Here’s the reality: Writers—even good ones—usually hit the end of their ropes at least half a dozen times before their story (poem, article, blog post, etc.) is worth reading.

We go through draft after draft. We take time away and come back. We get other people to read our work and give us feedback.

Of course, how much of that we do depends on the nature, length, and importance of the project. And the more experience we have, the more effective and efficient we get.

But the fact remains: Writing is neither as spontaneous nor as solitary as you might think. At some point, our best isn’t quite enough to develop a piece from idea to press-ready product in one go, alone.

Life is like that, too. God has blessed each of us with a unique set of abilities and resources to steward. And we all have responsibilities, relationships, and callings that need what we have to offer.

Yet however well and however much we pour into people and pursuits, at some point we come up empty. We put in our best…and it isn’t enough.

That can leave us feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed, and confused. We might lose confidence in our ability to navigate. We might even wonder if a way forward exists.

The good news: It does. It might not look the way we expect or lead where we want. But it’s there for the finding.

The end of our capability doesn’t have to be the end of our story. In fact, by the grace and power of God, it can be a beginning.

Here are four suggestions for helping you find that beginning:

Ask for discernment

When we hit a wall, we may wonder whether we’re meant to fight our way over or change course. And God doesn’t always post a sign to direct us.

Whether or not we think we know the answer, a wall is always a cue to pray. We need God at both our best and worst times.

And God is always happy to hear from us—no matter how defeated we feel.

Sometimes we might hesitate to approach Him in our lack. We convince ourselves He’s ashamed of us, or at least disappointed. We imagine Him shaking His head, withdrawing His hand, and saying, “You should be able to do this yourself by now.” Or grumbling as He tosses us a handout, “All right, but this is your last chance…”

The truth is, God never expects us to do without Him. It’s simply a law of nature that a creature can’t survive, much less thrive, without its Creator. He’s pleased—I imagine relieved—when we realize and acknowledge that.

Like a loving parent, He wants us to flourish. And we can only do so by seeking Him every moment of our lives.

When we need grace, He gives it sufficiently. When we need His Spirit, He fills us generously. When we need wisdom, He gives it without judgment.

So ask…and expect to receive.

Let yourself grieve if you need to

Sometimes the failure of our best is only frustrating. Other times it can be downright devastating.

Maybe you’ve only failed your own expectations. You scored low on a test, never got the promotion, or had your offer on the dream house turned down. You’re bruised but can still see life ahead.

Or maybe you feel you’ve failed a loved one—or, worse, God Himself. You cared for that person, devoted yourself to that relationship, relentlessly pursued your God-given calling…and still lost what you strove for.

Whatever your scenario, however you feel—it’s okay to feel. Jesus sees and understands.

And He offers us a place to rest and process: His presence.

Acknowledging our disappointment, frustration, confusion, and/or grief to Him in all their fullness sets us up to face whatever comes next. Presenting a broken heart to Him is the first step to healing. Presenting a broken ego to Him is the first step to humility. Both bring us closer to the One who is always enough for our souls.

So pour out your heart to Him. Cling to the truths found His Word, the Bible. Ask Him to give you what you need and redeem your loss for His good purposes.

And simply savor the peace and goodness of His presence.

Realize you aren’t meant to do it all

There’s a reason God created human community. Even in perfect Eden, before sin entered the picture, one man couldn’t fulfill his mission alone.

So don’t assume you can, either—or that God expects you to.

God has given each of us a unique role to play in furthering His kingdom in our sphere of influence. He gives us unique talents, traits, and experiences that equip us for that role. And if we’re in Christ, the Holy Spirit empowers and gifts us in unique ways.

But He only calls each of us to do so much. He intends our unique callings and giftings to complement and support each other. We’re like parts of a body—no one part can do everything. We all serve the same ultimate mission: to make God known and build up His Church. But it takes all of us to fulfill that mission.

So take a deep breath. If you’ve done your best in your task with what you’ve been given, be it big or small, you’ve done enough. What others do, and what God does, is up to them. The mission’s success is not yours to achieve—it’s God’s. Your part is to do your best at whatever He directs you to do.

And when you need help, ask Him to send it to you. Be ready to prayerfully seek it…and accept it.

Give God your dreams and plans

No matter what your situation, one particular path forward is always the right one: the path God directs you to take. Even if it’s not the way you want to go.

Choosing God’s way over ours is hard. Sometimes it’s painful. But it’s far easier and less painful than the alternative. Because this difficulty and pain serve a life-giving purpose. They lead to growth and produce eternal good fruit. By contrast, stumbling around on our own ultimately causes needless suffering that only harms us and others.

Plus, obedience to God is significantly more likely to get us somewhere worth going.

We humans can only know and do so much. We possess only a creature’s potential and point of view. Even collectively, we only see and get so far.

By contrast, as Creator, God knows everything. Time and space have no hold on Him—He is everywhere at once and sees the past, present, and future. He understands His world better than anyone. He understands you better than you do yourself.

And He has more power, influence, and authority than all His creatures combined. If you want the wisdom and strength to live your best life, He’s your best bet. Going His way over other ways just makes sense

And contrary to what we might think, doing so is freeing. Gone are the tethers of insecurity and pride. Gone are the whips of warring desires and influences. Gone are the weights of bitterness and shame. Gone are the blinders of self.

Yes, those things can still hound us. But we’re no longer bound to them. And one day they’ll be gone for good.

Instead, we’re free to walk in the light of truth, fueled by love, hope, and purpose. Our choices are limited only by the highest Authority’s guidance. Our capabilities are limited only by His resources. And we can accept any divinely-ordained constraints with contentment—because we know His reasons are good.

So tell God all your dreams and plans. Then hand them over, asking Him to do what He wants with them. Acknowledge that His will is best. Ask Him what dreams and plans He has for you. Ask Him to align your heart with His and give you what you need to move forward His way.

His way may look entirely different from yours. You might never understand the rationale behind it.

But you can trust it’s best. And you can know that the heart behind it is Love.

~

For all its heartache and headache, coming up short carries an odd kind of blessing.

As long as we believe our best is enough, we can live like God and other people are disposable. As long as we see only our own competence, we’ll hobble along oblivious to injury until we collapse.

But when we come face to face with our lack, our world cracks open and we have the opportunity to let grace in. And when we do, our true lives begin.

Sometimes we fear self-insufficiency because we believe there’s no remedy. We fear that if we can’t take care of things, no one will.

The life-changing, heart-relieving, soul-freeing truth is: Someone will.

In fact, He’s been doing it all along.

Long ago, before this world began, before the first of us sinned and messed up literally everything in creation, our Maker knew. He saw what was going to happen. And He already had a plan.

So when our first ancestors stood guilty before Him, He not only disciplined them: He made them a promise.

He spent history setting up that promise’s fulfilment. Then one day two thousand years ago, God the Son left His glory and took on human form. He was born in Bethlehem as a baby, to a poor family among an oppressed people.

Jesus experienced all our human limitations and hardships. Yet He was also different. He was tempted like we are—but He never sinned. He taught about God and the God-honoring life—but He did so with unprecedented authority. He healed and performed miracles—but His power came from Himself.

And then He let Himself be betrayed, unjustly tried, mocked, tortured, and killed. His body was buried and guarded. But on the third day after His death, He rose to life again.

In doing all this, He accomplished what we never could. Being fully God, He owed no one anything, yet had everything to give. He could use His own death as a ransom for others. And being fully human, He could represent us and intercede on our behalf.

That’s what He did. His death served as a sacrifice to atone for all our sins once and for all. And by rising to life, He defeated the death and decay sin brought into the world.

As a result, anyone who repents of their sin and puts their faith in Him can receive forgiveness. What’s more, God assigns them Jesus’ righteous status and welcomes them into His family. He sends them the Holy Spirit (the third Person of the Trinity) to be with them always. The Spirit works in them and supplies all they need to live a God-honoring life. At Jesus’ return, He will resurrect and transform their bodies to be as immortal and glorious as Christ’s.

And when Jesus returns, sin and suffering will end forever. God’s kingdom—of which we get hints and foretastes in our earthly walk with Jesus—will finally, fully arrive. And we who’ve committed ourselves to Jesus will live with Him forever.

During His earthly life, Jesus declared: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. … Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:3, 6, CSB)

Only when we know the depth of our spiritual poverty can we open our hands to receive the fullness of God’s kingdom. Only when we recognize our desperate dearth of righteousness can we beg the merciful Christ to clothe us in His.

And once we do, we find it sufficient for this life and all eternity.

So bring God your emptiness and shortcomings. Believe what the Bible says about Jesus and what He did and will do. Confess and repent of your sins. Ask God to forgive, cleanse, and save you from your sin through Jesus. Ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life.

You’ll probably need fresh fillings of many things over the course of your life’s earthly journey. You’ll probably need to confess more sins before you reach perfect holiness in God’s kingdom. All of us Christ-followers do.

But once you’ve committed yourself to Christ, you’ll always be wrapped in His righteousness. The Holy Spirit will always dwell in you. You are a child of God, coheir with Christ, and citizen of His kingdom.

You might be woefully insufficient on your own. But in Jesus you’re unbreakably bound to and loved by One whose sufficiency exceeds imagination.

Be filled.

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (CSB)

2 thoughts on “When Our Best Isn’t Enough”

  1. One thing I conclude from reading your blog posts, particularly this one, is that what you write is not simply head knowledge. It obviously comes from something much deeper, from circumstances and many experiences in the dark trenches of life. I can tell that your faith has been born through many personal trials. God bless you, Megan, for using your gift of words to encourage us and help our faith to grow also.

    Liked by 1 person

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