Enough is Enough
Enough is Enough:
How our fabrication of love and approval can lead us to seeking confidence from a different place.
BY TAYLOR MAY
My husband and I just spent a week in Tokyo, Japan on the vacation of a lifetime. We looked forward to this week with a whole lot of a anticipation. We dreamed dreams of tall buildings, endless supplies of raw fish, ocean views, fresh air, Pokemon, and *fast food*. In all of those areas, Japan delivered. I'm convinced we'll never forget the past week. I'm also convinced, I'll be different because of it.
Stepping off the plane and into the Tokyo Haneda airport was a reality check I wasn't quite prepared for. I walked right into a world of consumerism I thought I'd left behind in the States when I moved to Kathmandu. Starbucks and H&M were right across from each other. Women walking to and from terminals were doing so dressed so stylishly, I looked down at my Chaco’s and ketchup-stained pants shamefully. I rarely think twice about such things in Kathmandu. In a way, living in such a place has done wonders for my comparison-prone heart. In Southern California though, the land of tanned legs and sundresses, I was in a constant state of comparison. Billboards and movies constantly told me which ways I wasn't measuring up. Every person was a measuring stick: I look better than her, she looks better than me. I needed to look the best to feel worthy. Which, by the way ... I never did. Someone, in your own mind, will always look better than you if looking the best is your goal. And it was mine.
As a teenager, I sought out fashion as a hobby. I got a job at Nordstrom and made a very impressive effort to always know the latest of the latest. One year, I made it my goal to not repeat a single outfit for the entire school year. I succeeded. Dream big, right? The problem is, that hobby turned into an obsession really fast. From that first comment on my outfit, I was hooked. If I had to go through a day where what I was wearing or how I looked wasn't noticed, I felt panicky and less than. It took me until the middle of college to realize that this obsession derived out of my nature to want to please people, to want to be loved.
If ever I found something that made me feel loved, I latched on. But let's be honest, it's still a struggle. These days it's cooking. I'll stress myself out five hours before a dinner with people because it NEEDS to be perfect and I NEED them to tell me so. Or sometimes it’s words, if I posted my blog on Facebook and only got three likes, I battle the urge to take it down.
Contentment is a scurrying fiend that is always rushing around trying to find its home in places where it doesn't belong. Where it can find its home, however, is in the place where God already told us that we are loved, and that it will always and forever be enough.
And what if, what if I lived every day, woke up every morning, striving to know that truth deep in my bones? Then would I rush to the mall to find a dress after I saw someone's cuter than mine? Would I stare in the mirror feeling endlessly not good enough? Would I cower in a corner, worried about what the rest of the world must think of me? No, I don't think that would be the case.
Living in an a country whose climates our out of control, whose roads are dusty, and whose main appeal is adventure ... style is limited to what you don't mind getting dirty, ripped, or wet. You find yourself striving for what is most durable instead of most stylish. Add to that the fact that boutique and wellmade luxury items aren't so easy to find as most cheap clothing is made in factories where labor laws aren't quite in standing. And I find, when others around me aren't trying to look the part ... neither am I. But we are all trying for something, I'm afraid -- trying to thrive in our ministry, to fit into our expectations. God cringes (maybe?), when we measure ourselves up against one another's successes and flaws. On the day He said it was finished ... He meant it entirely. He meant we were, at that moment, free to walk the earth without sin and without shame. Enough. He declared that all He had done for us made us enough.
It startled me, to come into Tokyo and have all of those feelings of discontentment and comparison flood back into me. I thought I’d dealt with that, thought I was over it. But maybe living in our new home just had a way of removing it from my priorities instead of actually tackling the heart of the matter. Because on the second day, realizing I’d only brought my Chaco’s because I knew we’d be walking a ton, I went to buy new sandals. Because Chaco’s obviously didn’t compliment my sundresses. Oh, how freeing it would have been to not have cared at all! To have accepted the reality that yes, they all look more stylish than I do, but what in the world does that matter?! Next time, Taylor. You’ll get ‘em next time.
Of course, as many blog posts such as this will say, it is not wrong to look nice, to have nice clothes and things etc. What's wrong is to fix our eyes so much on these things that we let it decide who we are, we let how the world around us sees us define us. When in fact, most of the world probably sees much more in us than what we see in ourselves. And it's absolutely certain, that God does, too.
I pray my striving to be better is first grounded in a God who sees me as I already am: perfect, blameless, holy. I hope that every move I make comes out of this truth. On the days where I feel less than, I want to run to this, to drink it in and dance in it. Because enough is enough.
PHOTO BY IWATA RYOJI