The Glory in Giving Up
remember — good enough is impossible.
When I graduated at the top of my class, I couldn’t understand why the accolades felt so hollow. I poured everything into the idea of being a well-rounded student, and I expected the means to amount to the seemingly reasonable end of being satisfied. I looked forward to the day that the pressure to strive towards the inevitable next step would subside, if only for a moment. A lie we are all fed took the form of light, and I became faster, stronger, better, smarter. But not quite fast, or strong, or good, or smart enough. Somehow, the fulfillment and satisfaction I sought always remained just out of reach. That day I longed for never came. Did I not yet know that perpetual performance was too heavy a mantle to bear? (Spoiler alert: I did know. I’m sure you do too. However, implementing such a truth seems to be a very different matter altogether.)
The end of the lie left me empty, like the steps I had worked so hard to climb were suddenly sinking beneath my feet. I free-fell to the foundation. And yet, even now, such deception remains alluring — how strangely comfortable are the promises of the American dream! How far can I climb before I fall? How strong can I make myself, how thin can I spread myself? Even if I manage to prove myself to you, I could spend the rest of my life trying to prove myself to me.
My integral values were simply too shallow to sustain me — me, my whole self, not the self I strategically groomed to be most efficient. I needed to learn myself according to a different light. This light, a force much stronger and brighter than the sporadic, glamorous, addicting spark of achievement, had a way of uncovering even what I tucked far away. Slowly, the light drove out the darkness. For the first time in years, I felt completely visible.
And then the light began to burn.
It set fire to the labels, expectations, accolades, opinions, shame, and self-imposed standards that clung so close to my skin. Truthfully, much is still aflame. And yet, there are some things that the fire does not burn. The unshakeable, irrevocable, fireproof fact of the matter is this: my performance will never be enough to earn or create the fulfillment I am looking for. And it will never, ever need to be.
A natural happiness, another’s approval, a staircase climbed are all mere shadows of what can satisfy the deep longing within. Maybe I crave your approval because I am meant to please the One whose image you bear. Hollow, self-centered striving has no place when I am fully known, fully loved, fully forgiven, and fully free. A performance, even of great miracles, will never be a substitute for knowing Christ.
What if a garden that displays goodness and glory can grow from ashes? What if humility and total surrender can lead to true satisfaction?
Perhaps there is glory to behold in giving up the search for good enough.