Sufficient

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

My least favorite thing about what I’m about to write is that I know that in so many ways it’s a peek at my least favorite version of myself. How is it possible that this insecure girl, with her desperate need for attention and affirmation, is still alive and kicking inside of this fully-grown adult with her life full of love, joy, and tacos?


A couple weeks ago I texted my three best friends to let them know that I couldn’t shake an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. At that point it had been building for a few days and it felt all-consuming. While this happens sometimes without being more than a blip on the radar, this one felt different and I wasn’t in a place where wallowing with a jar of cookie butter was an option— one of those super fun fake-it-til-you-make-it-days where it doesn’t actually matter what kind of mood you’re in, you better at least pretend to pull it together. So I did.

In the days following, for whatever reason, the theme of rejection was everywhere I looked. I couldn’t find an area of my life that was untouched by the big, loud, unmistakably clear message: you are not enough.

Not enough to keep them coming. Not enough to keep plans with. Not enough to show up for. Not enough to follow up with. Not enough, not nearly enough, not even kind of enough, never ever enough.

[Gross, huh? I can barely handle this part of myself and on my best days I can’t fathom that she even exists— get it together, right? I mean. You’re okay, not the best, but like—be cool.]

What was most distressing— but for those who like to guess endings, will probably be helpful to take note of— was that this message was the loudest in areas of my life that I’ve always thought I was actually really great at. Like, sure, nobody’s perfect, but when it comes to this and that,  I’ve got it.

And yet.

My 8th graders are done with me. I’m not even remotely good at my job. No one is laughing. I am such an inconsiderate friend. 

And no matter what momentary glimpse of or shout of affirmation was tossed my way, I couldn’t receive it. I have really good people in my life who, whether unprompted or with a vague understanding of the mindset I was in, did their absolute best to build me up.

And yet.

They’re full of it. What else is she gonna say—“Yeah you do suck”? Those words are meaningless; he knew you were begging for them. If that were true, things would look different; they don’t, so it’s a lie.

[I know, I know! WHO is this person?! Why is she in my head?! Can someone please tell me they have their own version of her too?!]

Every once in a while, in the moments where it honestly, literally, truly felt like I was drowning in this, I had snaps of clarity. Snaps of a phrase. Snaps of a calmness that was somehow still disruptive.

I am either sufficient for you, or not. 

Not You. This doesn’t need to have anything to do with You. Just gimme a minute; I’m gonna get it together.

And yet.

I am either sufficient for you, or not.

Oh, sufficiency in Christ. Paul, did you really need to wax oh-so-poetic on this? What if some of us like figuring things out on our own and being good enough on our own? Did you really need to make such a big deal out of boasting in your weaknesses?

Paul. I like being good at things. I like people taking note of me being good at things. I don’t think “content with weaknesses” needs to be a phrase let alone with this “all the more gladly” thing. I want people to like me, I want to have it all together, I want to be sufficient on my own and for people to notice and to tell me about it often and to praise the—

I am either sufficient for you, or not.

Ugh.


Yesterday I decided I wanted to go for a run in the wetlands by my apartment. I always envision running as something that will make me feel better ‘cause of endorphins and being outside and I somehow always convince myself that I’m gonna run miles with joy in my heart.

I ran for a whole song (Thank you, Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb) and then remembered that I hate running and I would mosey around for a few laps instead. Moseying is well and good, but—.

You can’t run for more than three-and-a-half-minutes? You used to be able to. 

And then I noticed this thing hanging in a newly-planted tree. Just a little hanging piece of wood that said “YOU ARE LOVED” on it. It struck me—I had never noticed it before and I was deeply craving to actually believe the words on it were true.

I stopped to take a picture of it. Might as well be honest here, I immediately started thinking of how I could caption the picture, what time I should post it to ensure I’d get the most likes out of it, and how maybe those likes would get me one step closer toward feeling like the message hanging from that tree was actually true.

As I was walking away, I heard someone running toward me. Assuming it was just someone with stronger willpower than me, I got out of the way so the runner could pass me. It turned out to be an older woman who I’d walked past a couple times already with her husband and dog. It was just the woman who ran up to me, but I saw her husband sitting on a bench near the tree I’d just taken pictures of.

She took a couple seconds to catch her breath so she could explain whatever it was she needed to explain, but then once she started to, she lost her breath again in tears.

Her name is Nancy. Her husband’s name is Jim. He has had cancer for the past four years, and in the past couple months it’s worsened. He has a couple more weeks, if that.

A month ago, they planted that tree, dedicated it to him, and put that piece of wood in it so people would know that they’re loved by Jesus. She said they wanted it to be something their grandchildren would visit together— that as it grows, they’d see that Jesus is always at work in the world and that He is good and with us always. They wanted it to be a gift to the random strangers who walk by it— that people would feel blessed by it and believe its message. So, when they saw me taking a picture of it, they wanted me to know the story behind it.

But also. She thanked me through tears (hers and mine at this point). It was a big deal to them that they got to actually witness someone taking in the words they hung in the tree. It was a big deal that he got to see someone take them in before he goes. She kept saying what a blessing I was to the both of them.

This whole interaction took maybe three minutes, but throughout it she exuded such a deep confidence in, committed reliance on, and extraordinary dependence upon Jesus that it was mind-boggling to me. She is mere weeks away from losing her husband, and she’s showing some random girl with grimy hair the grace of Jesus and its unwavering goodness in even the darkest of seasons. In all seasons.

As she walked away, I heard it clearly. No other voices making it fuzzy or competing to drown it out.

I am either sufficient for you, or—

He is. It’s not a question, it’s not up for debate. He just is. He is for me, for them, for you, for us. He is.

I will always crave affirmation in some way or another. I will always want to feel known, loved, celebrated. I will always want to feel like I’m enough.

The good news here is that there’s this big, loud, unmistakably clear message all throughout Scripture: I say you are.

7 Comments

  1. I Have a sign in my house that says “Love you more”…most people think it is what you say to someone when they say I love you or a reminder to me to love myself more, but I take it that God loves me more…more than all the dark days (I lost my husband to cancer), God loves me more for my weaknesses, God loves me more for staying on the path even when it is hard. Great article Katie. I am glad God reached out to you today. May you hold him in your heart and believe… You are enough! More than that…your are everything to those that love you!

    Reply

  2. You are a courageous young woman Katie, someday those 8th graders will realize they were touched by someone with Grace.

    Reply

  3. Oh my beautiful soul, this was exactly what I needed to read ay this very moment! I just got off the phone with my 29 year old daughter. She’s living in NYC and struggling with the sam issues you write about! She feels as though she is not doing enough, never enough! I will share your writings with her so she can see, first, she is not alone, and second, she is sufficient! Much Love to you, darling girl…Your sweet Dad pointed me in your direction; I adore your parents! xoxoxo

    Reply

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this story. (Among other things, you are truly a gifted writer.) I will defiantly have Trey, Carter, and Christopher read this story. I think you might be surprised by how your thoughts resonate with so many other young adults. I only wish you could see yourself through the eyes of those who love you. I am so happy you have been blessed by the grace of God with a relationship with Jesus. Keep spreading The Word.

    Reply

  5. I thank you & your cousin Denise (Deci) Schmidt for your article. I needed to read this more than ever right now in my overwhelming situation of “change” I’m going through. Fresh start…but difficult to tune out my own self doubts I hear repeatedly in my head daily. It can make it hard to move forward. Thank you again for this reminder. ❤

    Reply

  6. […] “Sufficient,” by Katie Schmidt. Katie is a friend and former coworker, and this is a wonderful story. “In the days following, for whatever reason, the theme of rejection was everywhere I looked. I couldn’t find an area of my life that was untouched by the big, loud, unmistakably clear message: you are not enough.” […]

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s