When You Don't Feel Good Enough

By Anna Fothergill

Photo by Janelle Pol

Photo by Janelle Pol

Most of us would describe ourselves as good people. In a world where we see corruption, brokenness and evil, we have clear examples of what we are not. These extremes can lead us to make unrealistic comparisons, because we could not comprehend committing the majority of these bad actions. It’s easy to tally up things which make us a “good person” by societal standards; most of us respect others, are kind, giving, concerned about world issues, and do our best to look after the environment. 

However, for me at least, there is that nagging voice which tells me I am not being good enough. I have no real bar, no clear defining line of when my goodness is enough. And more often than not, I fall short of my own standard of morality and good. I lie, I gossip, and I am not as generous as I would like to be. And even days when I am at my most charitable, caring and loving, that voice says I could still be better.

WHEN WE’RE NOT AS GOOD AS WE’D LIKE TO BE

There is always more good we could be doing. We’re not as good as we would like to be. There seems to be some imaginary scale of good and evil, ranging from Mother Teresa to Hitler. As long as we find ourselves nearer Mother Teresa, we rationalize that we must be a kind-of-okay person. But how can we know it is enough? 

Bet you're thinking it's too early, whatever the time of day, for an existential crisis of morality. Please don’t check out now. I know these are tough questions but I believe in hope and a perspective on being a good person that is utterly unique.  

WE CAN BE MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH

My faith helps me understand we can be good enough even though we “fall short.” While we often fail to live up to our own standard of goodness, we also fail to live up to the standards of a perfect God. While slightly daunting, this in fact levels the playing field. We all have the same problem. Yet God in his great love doesn’t leave us to fail. God recognizes our problem and sent Jesus to save us from it. He gave this opportunity to each one of us.

With Jesus we can be defined in a new way, not as a good person, a bad person, or even a kind-of-okay person, but as someone seen as perfect by God. 

Once we realize this freedom from being defined by what we do, good or bad, we actually find a new motivation for being good. Instead of striving to meet some vague standard of “good enough,” we have the assurance that with Jesus, we meet a perfect God’s standard. 

The more I let this truth and freedom sink into my heart and look at what God has done for me, the question of doing good becomes not one of obligation, societal pressure, or simply doing good because that’s what we were raised to do. It becomes an expression of thanks and love. Even when we mess up again, we are not valued by what we do. 

Do you feel like you often fail to meet the abstract standard of “good enough”? Seek out this new definition of who you are and find a new joy in doing good.

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Anna is British born, South African raised and 6 months into becoming a New Yorker. She currently works as a Visual Merchandiser for British retailer The White Company and resides in Hell’s Kitchen. She enjoys cupcakes, kickboxing and colourful earrings.