Wanting to be Enough

By Shannon Dowlearn


“I just want to be good….I just want to be good enough.”


Those were the words coming out of my mouth as tears spilled from my eyes. I found myself distraught in my apartment after another failed attempt to break five minutes in the mile.


The desire to be good extended far beyond my performance in track. Ever since I can remember, there has been an insatiable desire to better myself. I had a core belief that if I was better, then I would be accepted.


My worth was wrapped in accomplishment.


That night was a turning point—and not in a good way. All I could see were athletes that were thinner and faster than me. I decided I wanted to be like them.


Little by little, I started to cut back my food intake while increasing my miles. Unhealthy habits formed quickly, and, before I knew it, I was immersed in a struggle from which I could not escape. 


Flash forward a few months. I found myself falling deeper into rigid patterns with food and exercise yet simultaneously on the way to be an All-American for the first time. My team was ranked number one in the country, and I was up there as one of our top runners. To someone looking at just the statistics, I was having my breakout season. Yet, on the inside, I was crushed. My relationships were falling apart. My grades were suffering. I felt alone and ashamed that I couldn’t do the simple task of eating.


At the National Championships, my season came to a blistering halt. As soon as the gun went off, I had no feeling—I was completely numb. At that weight, my body could not regulate itself in the sub-freezing and high wind conditions. I barely finished the race.


It has been years since that day—years filled with therapists and nutritionists, programs and books—anything I could do to move closer toward full and total recovery.


I had naively thought that as soon as that cross-country season was over, I would be able to flip a switch and “be normal” again. Oh, how far that was from the truth. What is interesting, though, is that I am starting to become more and more grateful for the length of this journey. I had a lot of unwinding that I needed to do—a lot of discerning, pondering, questioning, and—ultimately—accepting.


One of the Easter readings that has been particularly striking to me this year is in John 21. In this account, Jesus asks Peter three times: “Do you love me?” As I put myself into that scene and listened to the Lord ask me that question, ‘Do you love me?’ I realized my knee-jerk reaction is “Yes, Lord, but not good enough. I should be better. I can do more.” Sounds an awful lot like “I just want to be good enough.”


While it is true that we must work hard to be the best we can be, we also need to recognize that holiness is not an accomplishment or culmination of all our good work. Our souls proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Our goodness reflects His image.


To be truly holy, there must be a radical surrendering of self to God—a humble acceptance that who we are right now is enough to receive His love. Ultimately, this perspective is vital for the journey to full healing. Recovery is never perfect. It will take longer than you think. But you are worth it. He believes it and wants us to claim that truth so that we can answer full heartedly—despite our weaknesses and imperfections–“Yes, Lord, I love you.”


PS: You are enough.

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