This blog post is a guest post, written by a dear friend of mine since college, Jean-Marie VunCannon. Jean-Marie is the Director of Women’s Ministries at Arden Presbyterian Church in Arden, NC and sends regular emails to encourage the women in the church. This is her most recent email and, as it was so well-written and something that I think many women struggle with, I asked her if I could share it here on this blog.
As you’ll see in this post, Jean-Marie and I have been sources of encouragement to each other for over 35 years! My hope is that God uses her words in this post to encourage you as they did me to trust God in the many ways I can struggle with feeling inadequate.
Not that we are adequate in ourselves so as to consider anything as having come from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God
2 Corinthians 3:5 (NASB)
A few weeks ago, our precious granddaughter Ali Rea spent the night. My husband and I enjoyed watching the new Disney movie Encanto with her. It’s a sweet little movie about family and caring for one another. The Madrigal family lives under a powerful charm or encanto. Each member of the Madrigal family has a special gift, a super-power, that helps the family and their Columbian village to thrive.
Surprisingly, Ali Rea’s favorite character is Luisa, the super strong older sister of protagonist Mirabel. Have a pile of lumber you need to move? Call on Luisa. If the burrows get loose, it’s Luisa to the rescue, wrestling them back into the fold. Though on the outside Luisa appears so strong, on the inside she wrestles with societal pressure and feelings of inadequacy. Her signature song talks about the incessant drip, drip, drip of pressure to perform.
When I was in college, I took part in a summer project with Campus Crusade (now Cru). I don’t remember the particulars, but I recall once that summer sitting across from a friend in a restaurant booth decrying my inadequacy in some circumstance, some task for which I felt gravely inadequate. Suddenly a scrap of paper floated down in front of me. My friend Alison, seated in another booth nearby, had overheard and had hastily scribbled out Corinthians 3:5, not that we are adequate in ourselves so as to consider anything as having come from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God. With shocking clarity, God’s word had addressed the struggle in my heart, and it is a lesson I have never forgotten.
Most of my life I have struggled with the sins of perfectionism and people-pleasing. At their root, these sins reveal a fear of man rather than a right fear of God. But they also reveal a lack of understanding of the limits that are inherent in being human. Jen Wilkin observes, “a body is a set of limits. Our height determines the limit of what we can see standing in a crowd. Our mass determines the limit of how much water we will displace when we step into a swimming pool. Genetics–or more properly, God–determines our arm-span and the size of our shoes. By tethering our spirits to a body, God decrees that we will be present where we are present, and nowhere else…” (None Like Him, p. 94).
My sense of inadequacy may come from my lack of understanding the limits a loving Father has placed upon me. When I think I need to be in two places at one time, for instance, I am denying the limits of my finite being. And I am also desiring, even idolizing, an attribute that belongs to God alone (omnipresence). When I bemoan my lack of insight into a situation, when I think I am entitled to more knowledge than I have been given, am I desiring something I am not entitled to have, the omniscience that belongs to God alone?
There is great freedom in acknowledging that I am a finite being, that I cannot do all things perfectly–nor am I expected to! Accepting the limits God has placed on me makes me dependent upon him to supply what I need. His word promises, my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13). Today I am asking him to help me as I prepare to teach a very difficult passage in Hebrews. On my own, I am inadequate to such a task. But I find comfort in knowing God will supply all that I need to accomplish what he has called me to do. That’s another key point. I need the wisdom to know what I have been called to do and what I have not been called to do. I must acknowledge that there are other things I want to do, areas in which I long to excel, that God has not called me to. I must be content with the assignments God has given me and with the provision he gives to complete those assignments. And when those assignments are complete, I must give praise to the One who has provided what I needed. For truly I am not adequate in myself to consider anything as coming from myself…my adequacy is from God.
May you find God’s grace sufficient for all he calls you to today!