I was never good enough as a kid. Hell, I’m still not good enough. It’s a problem that’s plagued me my entire life. It’s the reason I’m often so sad and angry.
As a child I tried my damndest to get accepted to the private school my older and younger brothers got into with ease. But every year I failed. Every year I got the skinny envelope in the mail telling me that, once again, I was not good enough to gain admittance to the state’s most exclusive school. Every year as a child I had to face my father’s anger and disappointment that his middle son could not get into the right school. I was a failure. I did eventually get into the school. In the 10th grade. The last possible chance to get in before the school stopped admitting new students. And I had been on the wait list.
I became a pornography addict at a very early age as a coping mechanism to deal with my home environment. On top of not being good enough to get into the right school, my guilt and shame from pornography confirmed what I already knew to be true: I wasn’t good enough.
Then puberty hit. Unlike my handsome and athletic brothers, I was gangly, nerdy, and bookish. I was socially awkward. I was funny-looking. I couldn’t play sports. I had no idea how to talk to girls. Throughout high school I was often alone and had almost no dating life to speak of. Classmates talked and bragged about their sexual experiences. I kept my pornography addiction a secret. Only a loser like me would have so much trouble getting dates and be addicted to pornography. I wasn’t good enough.
I got into a great college and got a 4.0 my first semester. But then I got homesick and transferred to the state school near my home. Dad was disappointed. Again. He still talks about it. I’d thrown away another opportunity. Now I was stuck in a college almost anyone could get into. This wasn’t going to lead to wealth and success. I wasn’t good enough.
So after another two years I transferred to a decent state school on the West Coast. I got decent grades in a respectable degree program. Things were almost starting to look up. Until graduation. I had no idea what to do with the degree I’d just earned. So I schlepped around as an admin assistant for the local newspaper for 18 months. Not a great gig. I was under-performing again, rudderless. I wasn’t good enough there, either, so I tried to make Dad happy by joining the military like he’d done.
I should’ve been a Navy SEAL. I would’ve been awesome. Instead I chose Finance. It’s what Dad wants, I told myself. And so began eight hard, struggling years in a career field that’s left me feeling like a failure. I’ve never been good enough in any Finance job.
I know many people can relate to at least one part of my story. Nearly everyone has their own tale of feeling like they’re not good enough. Some of the most successful people I’ve watched on TV or read about (I’m looking at you Andy Stanley) are successful because they’re trying to exorcise their own deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. They tell themselves, “Just a little more fame and/or fortune, and I’ll finally be good enough. Mom or Dad will finally be proud of me.”
The good news, the amazing news, is this: God already thinks each of us is good enough. Just exactly the way we are. Flaws and all. You don’t have to do shit to impress God. And this Sunday, I’m going to prove it to you.