I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not hard working enough. I’m not righteous enough.
These are words that I tell myself EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING.
Those first few moments of waking are beautiful. I’m half-awake, half-dreaming, still caught up in whatever realm I was living in. The world doesn’t exist. I’m alive. I’m strong. I’m confident. I’m worthy.
Then reality sets in.
I am painfully aware of my shortcomings. The world, and all of it’s demons, make their way in and pitch their tents in my psyche. I’m not even out of bed yet, and I’m fighting a war with self-doubt, worth, manhood, fatherhood, you name it.
Every sermon I’ve ever heard, blog I’ve ever read, or book I’ve ever purchased comes screaming back to me, telling me that I’m not enough. I’m not enough of a husband, I’m not enough of a father, I’m not enough of a man. Whatever it is, I’m not enough of it.
I dont’ say this to get any sort of pity. I say this to be honest. Some men are addicted to gambling, some are addicted to sports, some are addicted to lust and women. That’s not my story.
I’m addicted to self-deprecation and self-doubt.
Here’s the problem with addiction (at least as much as I’ve been able to see.) Deep down, addicts know that their addiction is dangerous. They know it’s foolish, and though they may claim that it’s not hurting anybody, they know deep down, in their truest self, that it’s ruining their lives, and inadvertently, those of the ones they love the most.
Being addicted to something so non-physical, so intangible, makes it much easier to accept and live with the addiction. It’s obvious when gambling is ruining your life. It’s obvious when obsession with sports takes over, or pornography destroys your marriage and relationships. It’s a whole lot trickier to recognize the razor-sharp talons of self-doubt. To recognize them when they start to dig in. To see them for what they are.
Nobody I’ve ever read has expressed this quite like the late Brennan Manning. I won’t even attempt to sell you on him. If you haven’t read his incredible memoir, All is Grace, stop reading this and read that instead. You’ll be glad you did. The following is what I’ve come to adopt as my manifesto of sorts. May you find some comfort in these words.
“My life is a witness to vulgar grace — a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wage as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten til five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party, no ifs, and, or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request — “Please, remember me” — and assures him, “You bet!”..This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with a ll our might to try and find something or someone that it cannot cover. Grace is enough..
Sin and forgiveness and falling and getting back up and losing the pearl of great price in the couch cushions but then finding again, and again, and again? Those are the real stumbling steps to becoming Real,t eh only script that’s really worth following in this world or the one that’s coming. Some may be offended by this ragamuffin memoir, a tale told by quite possibly the repeat of all repeat prodigals. Some might even go so far as to call it ugly. But you see, that doesn’t matter, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly except to people who don’t understand..that yes, all is grace. It is enough. And it’s beautiful. “
Maybe this doesn’t resonate with you. Maybe you have no issues fully giving yourself to the idea of God’s unrelenting love for you. Maybe you wake up ever morning, soaking in His furious love. If that is the case, keep on going. Keep living aware of the fact that you are loved. That is an amazing place to be, to be so aware of God’s love that you can’t take it off. Like a shirt that clings to your skin after a hard rain. It feels impossible to take off, so you just let it cling to you. How beautiful. Live there, soaking in his affection.
For the rest of us, we don’t live in that reality, but we want to. We want so desperately to know that feeling. We want to feel enveloped in His love, knowing that life may not be perfect, but at the end of the day, at least we are loved by the one who fashioned us. We ache for it. We were made to know that kind of love. What is it that is holding you back from that? What is the thing that you can’t let go of? The thing that you just can’t seem to give to Him?
I may be a mess. I may be the prodigal who wakes up every morning, hung over on self-doubt, utterly convinced that He cannot possibly want anything to do with me, spitting on His grace time and time again with my self-deprecation. But to borrow from Manning, His vulgar grace says time and time again, “Welcome home.”
Join me in coming home, won’t you?