LESSONS LEARNED (& learning still)
pt. 1 – Our Complete Insufficiency; Our Fulfillment.
Perfectly insufficient: me, all of us.
The first, perhaps most undoing, lesson of faith I’ve been taught throughout this year is the thing I am now most painfully familiar with: my complete and total incompleteness and insufficiency and the resulting self-doubt and uncertainty which those revelations bring about. I have realized, that I am quite literally incapable of doing, saying, being anything successfully within my own strength and self-reliance.
Understanding this concept can bring about (and has, often) either a determination to SOMEHOW, regardless of the resulting consequences, succeed within my own power, or an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and resulting apathy. Both responses, however logical, are doomed to fail. Why? Because the more an imperfect being attempts to cover or ignore their imperfection, the more it will grow, the more it will become apparent, blatant. And there is no cure for imperfection, for insufficiency and inadequacy. None, except to trade your lost, broken, half-dead self for someone else’s complete, whole, alive one.
So, slowly, I have begun to see brokenness more clearly. I have started learning all the ways I am not enough, not complete. And as I more clearly see our emptiness, I have found that, through the lens of insufficiency I can glimpse Grace, perfect, complete, all-sufficient Grace. There is nothing more humbling than the realization of total brokenness, in both you as an individual and humanity as an entity. Yet, conversely there is nothing more empowering than the understanding that within insufficiency there is Grace which desires to fill the places we cannot.
However, in order to be filled, we must realize our brokenness; to be completed we must accept our incompleteness. Trying, wanting, however hard and well, to be enough will never mend our innate inability to be adequate within our own effort. We may want God to give us the ability to be sufficient, but he does not, will not. He gives us only insufficiency, and a desperate desire to be filled. We long to be like Martha, the friend of Jesus; we crave adequacy within ourselves and the ability to give that adequacy to to others. But all He wants, in fact, His deepest desire, is for me, you, to kneel at His feet. To kneel, and let Him be enough, be everything, and worry of nothing else.
Additionally, we are all equally broken, equally lost, and nothing on earth should create more empathy in our hearts. No man can escape the curse of humanity: to continually break. But similarly, no man is excluded from its salvation. Grace can, and will, cover all. And if man wasn’t broken there would be no need to be healed; our sufficiency would negate the need for fulfillment, for saving.
But our healing will not result in completeness within us, but without us. Our wholeness, our fullness, comes only when we draw, completely and totally, from the Father, from Grace. As we recognize our messiness we can see his perfection. When we shatter he is whole. So, regardless of your goodness, or lack thereof, man can never, will never, be restored within his own power; we must disregard our apparent self-sufficiency for God’s complete, neverending wholeness.
So the conclusion I’ve come to as a result of learning this lesson is that when I see myself as not enough, instead of comparing or becoming discouraged and anxious, I have begun instead to ask for Grace to fill me in those broken, empty places. When I simply have nothing left to give, I am training myself to ask for strength that doesn’t come from within myself. Jesus wants us to see our insufficiency as an opportunity, instead of a setback. In insufficiency He is complete, and when we ask Him to fill the gap where our own efforts will fail, here He can work His greater plan. So we must learn to allow ourselves to be lesser, for in this He will become great.
Grace is our greatest fulfillment.
“…I never can quite seem to pull my weight.” -Rattle, Penny & Sparrow
• allison paulson •