If you have ever struggled with the lie or insecurity that you are not enough, my friend Elise has some encouragement and TRUTH to offer you. I love her honesty about how she wrestled through that, and also the powerful way that God spoke directly to her heart. She is passionate about sharing that message with others now, and even wrote a book about it! I’m so excited to share her words about freedom with you today.
This is Elise’s Freedom Story.
My Freedom Story began with a book – a book I knew I was supposed to write. The Spirit had been gently nudging, or maybe more like persistently pushing, me for nearly a decade to write a book. The only trouble was I had no idea what the book was supposed to be about. I had this crazy notion that book authors should know a lot about the subject they were writing on, and I didn’t feel like an expert on anything. In fact, I felt like I was not quite measuring up, let alone demonstrating expertise, in any aspect of my life. I was an angrier, more selfish, less confident parent than I imagined I would be. My part-time schedule working as an attorney was benefiting the family greatly, but did nothing for developing confidence in my knowledge of the law. My life in general did not look like the lives of others I had made up in my head based on their Facebook posts. Surely, God was nudging the wrong person.
I lived in this nagging state of agitation for the better part of a year. I couldn’t pinpoint the root of the problem, but my attitude negatively affected my marriage, my relationship with my kids, my confidence at work, and my friendships. My husband thought he was the problem. He missed his confident wife with the sunny disposition and optimistic outlook on life, and began to struggle with what he was doing wrong to make me withdrawn all the time. I blew up often at my kids because my attempts to control them, to keep up appearances as a family having it altogether, constantly fell short. At work, I became defensive with coworkers, assuming they were questioning my knowledge and authority – which, in fact, I was questioning.
The first turning point came on a late August weekend at our lake cabin. I was talking to my neighbor Ned, a man in his early sixties, who I had seen most weekends that summer. We hadn’t talked a lot compared to earlier summers because I spent most of my time pretending to need to tend to the kids, not wanting to let anyone in. Ned commented that I was doing a great job with my kids and I started to tear up. Then he said, “You’re not doing well, are you. I’ve watched you all summer and your spark is gone.” It bothered me so much that an acquaintance, watching from across the street, could tell that I was not well in my spirit.
A few weeks later, I stood in front of my mirror trying to get ready for the day, frustrated I couldn’t put on my mascara because the tears wouldn’t stop. I was replaying in my head a comment I had made the night before at Bible study with my dearest friends. I don’t remember what the comment was, or what their reactions were, but I remember feeling like they hadn’t understood what I was saying, and therefore, I must not have been very good at communicating it. My head wanted to let it go, but my heart was hanging on to it and its voice kept whispering: “I guess you’re not good enough at that either.”
But at that moment a quiet, yet somehow louder, voice spoke directly to my heart: “Enough. My grace is enough!”
In that moment, God revealed two things to me: I knew what had been causing me so much agitation in my soul – I had started to believe the lie Satan was feeding me that I was not enough, but that I needed to keep striving to change that. I also knew the subject of the book that God had been nudging me to write for years – He wanted me to speak this truth – Enough. My grace is enough! – over the lives of others who were struggling in this same way.
As I wrote, the Spirit revealed so many different areas of my life in which Satan would try to steal just a little bit of the freedom I have in Christ. He taught me that Satan is a sneaky little devil – literally – and that he likes to meddle in the lives of those who would seek an abundant life in Christ. He showed me small, nearly-imperceptible ways in which Satan would attempt to lure me back into the bondage of believing that I wasn’t enough – and that life was about striving to change that.
Here’s what I learned to be true: I am not enough. I never will be on my own. God did not create me in such a way that I wouldn’t need Him. The purpose of my journey is to draw closer to Him, to increasingly depend more on Him, and that as I do, He is faithful. He showed me that when He promises, as He did in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that “His grace is sufficient” for me, what He means is not that His grace is barely enough, but that His grace is exactly enough. His provision of what I need is unique to me, because I am unique to Him, and I am unique from those around me. What He calls me to do is to be who I am, right where I am, and to allow His grace and presence in my life to change me into who He would have me become. My life will look differently than the lives of those around me, because God has a different purpose for my life and the different gifts He gave me. I am enough, even in all that I lack, because God’s grace is sufficient and His power is perfected in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I learned that I am not supposed to compare my life to the different lives of those around me. I am also not necessarily supposed to hide those weaknesses and insecurities that make me feel like I’m not enough from them. We cannot enjoy authentic community unless we allow others in. I am drawn to the story in Mark 6 of the disciples struggling on a boat in a storm while Jesus prayed on a mountainside. The Bible in Mark 6:48 says that in the middle of the night, “He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.” As their friend, He walked out to them, and what He did next is my favorite: “Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.” (Mark 6:51). He didn’t watch from a distance; He met His friends where they were, and stepped into the hard stuff with them. This, to me, shows the blessing of what happens when we open ourselves up to authentic community. When, instead of hiding as we “strain at the oars,” we are willing to share with those around us our struggles, we recognize that those who care are not in our lives to compare ourselves against, but are actually part of our lives so that they can climb in the boat with us. They may not be able to walk on water, quiet the storm, and command the wind as Jesus did, but they can show us Christ’s love as He did to His disciples.
My dear friends in that Bible study are that authentic community for me now. They were always there; they were always willing; I just didn’t allow them in. As I have become more vulnerable and have felt Christ’s love poured into my insecurities through them, I have become less defensive. I have seen too, through these close, authentic friendships, how they struggle, how they have imperfections and weaknesses, and how God is calling me to step into their boat with them when they are straining at the oars.
Being authentic within a community requires vulnerability. It requires a commitment to being who we are, right where we are, and allowing those who love us to speak Christ’s love into the areas in which we feel most inadequate. Authenticity begins by remembering His grace is enough for us. We are enough through Him. We don’t have to strive and compare and allow Satan to steal our joy and our freedom in Christ, because that’s not what brings the abundant life Christ has promised.
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Elise Knobloch writes to figure out what she thinks. Elise seeks to encourage others to meet God in the common, ordinary, everyday activities of theirs lives and to laugh at God’s ever- present sense of humor. She has a master’s degree in persuasive writing, a juris doctorate, and is the author of Enough: Finding Abundant Life in a World Striving for More. Her greatest teachers, however, are her husband and their four children.
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P.S. Special thanks to Roberto Nickson of the Unsplash community for the photo to accompany this post.