This week, our Bookkeeper Karen Willming told me about a spot on the CBS Morning News where they interviewed author Jennifer Breheny Wallace who has written a book entitled Never Enough. Her book talks about achievement culture and her research was interviewing students who were in the upper echelon of the social stratosphere, but who are having tons of trouble with anxiety, depression, and self-worth issues.
A quote from the book and the interview says, “These kids are running a course marked out for them, without enough rest or a chance to decide even if it’s a race they want to run.” The kids who are suffering felt that their worth is contingent upon how much they weigh, their GPA, and how many likes they get on social media. Wallace tells parents, it isn’t about what their kids say, but what they hear. Wallace suggests from her own interviews and researchers who are doing more than she did in the field, don’t start with questions like, “How was your test” or "What grade did you get on this?” Rather, ask how lunch was and what they had. Have a Ph.D. in your children and know them for who they are. It isn’t that you can’t have expectations for them, but according to who your child is, set that bar based on them and who they are and who you know them to be.
In terms of faith, you might ask if we do the same. Were you the perfect student in your Confirmation Class? Can you recite to me Martin Luther’s explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed? Well and good, but now tell me how you are as a giver in terms of what God has given you. How are you loving and acting as a Jesus person in the world? What does that even mean anyway?
If we don’t know who we are, or whose we are, then what’s the point? If we can’t know that God loves us and that means that I love you too, then maybe we need to take some real intentional Sabbath time to listen for God’s voice. Do some imaginative prayer exercises (see me and I’ll tell you more), and listen for the voices of affirmation that come as you sit quietly breathing in God’s presence for you. The truth is that we are enough. We just need to believe it for ourselves.