It seems every time I open social media, I am met with the well-meaning expression “You Are Enough.” It might be on a cute hand-drawn graphic, a coffee mug, a caption, or someone’s t-shirt. The intentions are golden. Women spend a lot of time self-loathing, and so this message can be comforting to us. The thought behind it is pure. As we scroll through and are met with a wall of perfectly edited images, it is easy to feel like we don’t measure up.
We worry we aren’t far enough along in our careers, we lack fulfilling romantic relationships, we aren’t thin enough, tan enough, tall enough, beautiful enough. In a world where we obsess over achievement, trying to attain some benchmark of aesthetic perfection, and climbing the ladder of success, it can all feel exhausting.
I photograph beautiful and accomplished women for a living, and they still worry about how they look in front of the camera. Some have crippling insecurities about their body image (see my post on that issue here). In so many ways, we try to attain perfection, and if we can’t do that, we try to comfort ourselves with positive self-talk. While positive self-talk is a good thing, it is a superficial band-aid that does not cure the deep wound underneath.
As a Christian, I’ve always had a difficult time with the encouraging phrase “You are enough.” Every time I see it, I want to counter the claim with a gentle, loving reminder that actually, I am not enough. I will never be enough. Nothing I can do will make me enough. In reality… that’s a good thing. It gives me rest from trying to be enough, and it gives me freedom from the hamster wheel of pursuit.
When I was in college, I came across a YouTube video that changed my life. It is a video of a clip from a sermon by Pastor Matt Chandler called “Jesus Wants the Rose”. You can watch it here:
Here’s the truth: according to the Bible, the entire point of the Gospel is that we are not enough. As Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, the hole in your heart that you’re trying to fill with accomplishments—achieving a perfect body, having the right life—none of that will fill that hole because it is a God-shaped hole. The only thing that’s going to fill it is Christ.
Plastic surgery won’t make you enough. Following rules won’t make you enough. Lip fillers won’t make you enough. Your next promotion won’t make you enough. Botox won’t make you enough. A marriage proposal won’t make you enough. Liposuction won’t make you enough. Having children won’t make you enough. Winning the biggest horse show won’t make you enough. And your business success or failure won’t make you enough. You are not enough, and that is the entire point of the gospel—Christ is enough. For us. He died on the cross in our place so that we would be perfect in the eyes of God. And there’s nothing we can do to earn that gift. We don’t have to achieve anything to earn God’s love. We need to come to him in repentance, and accept that free gift. Friends, this is where we find our worth. This is what we were created for.
I find so much comfort in the fact that I am not enough. “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” – 2 Corinthians 3:15. Christ is my sufficiency.
Going even farther, it is in my weakness that I find Christ’s strength. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-11.
Before every photo shoot with every client, I say a prayer. I want to share a part of it with you today. I hope that it is encouraging to you, and a reminder of your worth because of Christ.
“Heavenly Father thank you for a gorgeous day. A day we don’t deserve to be here in your great grace. I pray for divine light and incredible weather this evening. I pray that the sun shines and you would allow my lens to capture it in the full glory you intended for it. I pray for the safety of my girl, the horses, and everyone involved.
I pray I could be a witness to the gospel and overflow with the love of the Holy Spirit. I pray that I would make this girl feel beautiful and comfortable and show her your true love. I pray that the images I capture would completely stun her. That she could look back on this day feeling your presence and love and warmth. That these photos remind her that she is fearfully and wonderfully and beautifully made in the image of God.”
Jen Wilkin: The Freeing Reality That You Are Not Enough
How Self-Esteem Ruins Bible Reading // Ask Pastor John with Jen Wilkin