encouragement,  Vocation

You Are Not Enough And Never Will Be

Up a TreeBy Vanessa Rasanen

No, that’s not a clickbait title. It’s the truth. I realize it’s not the feel-good message we all crave and then share emphatically to our social media with a bold “THIS!” attached. But I don’t really care, because I’m not here to tell you what you want to hear. I didn’t wake up early and reheat yesterday’s coffee to type out empty words.

So, sorry hon, but you are not enough.

You never will be enough.

If you’re like me, my friends, and pretty much any other human being on the planet, you probably — perhaps not always, but at some point — have felt that prickly nagging to “do more”. You know, the whiny voice in your head that points out that you’re “just a daughter/mom/wife/nobody” and need to find that one (or two or three or…) thing that will give your life more purpose.

But no. As hard as it is, stop. You’re going to run yourself ragged chasing after the next vocation, the next project, the next dream that will at long last make you feel worthy and enough. That’s your pain-in-the-butt-total-liar Old Adam pushing you to keep your focus firmly away from Christ Jesus, insisting that you can find your worth, your happiness, your peace and comfort in this earth and in this life.

I get it. I do. I have a novel that’s half-written and been taken on and off my plate several times over the last 3 years. My Old Adam likes to nag me and say: “if you just get that published, you’ll feel validated as a writer; you’ll be happier; you’ll be content”.

Shut up, Adam, you jerk.

He’s wrong. Sure, publishing — heck, even finishing — the book would be amazing, a dream come true, a serious accomplishment. It would feel fantastic! For a bit… then the high of worldly success would wear off, and I’d feel that nagging push to do it again, to chase the next high of achievement, to find that next thing that will finally make me feel validated.

It will never be enough, though. Never. Our Old Adam will never be satisfied, no matter how many books we publish, goals we crush, or dreams we achieve.

Goals are good, of course. Dreams are worth having and chasing — as long as we keep it all in perspective and don’t let them distract us from our primary vocations and responsibilities. Serving your neighbor, your spouse, your children, your church family — these are God-pleasing endeavors that bore our Old Adam who sees them as ho-hum and mundane. Writing a book, starting a business, these are also worthwhile pursuits, but let’s not be duped into thinking that accomplishing these will finally make us feel complete.

That’s not what will give you peace and contentment, and you know it.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:1-2 (ESV)

The things of this world will never make us enough or whole, and unfortunately our Old Adam will never be satiated as we chase and achieve our worldly goals. So when he starts nagging you to do more and to be more, and you start to doubt your worth and your purpose, that’s the time to drown him again in your baptism and refocus on Christ and remember that the vocations God has set before you are worthwhile endeavors not to be cast aside so carelessly in order to chase what the world says you need.

You are not enough. You will never be enough — on our own. If you were — if I was — we would have no need for Christ’s dying and raising. If we could achieve all we need in this world simply by doing more or being more, we would have no need for a Savior.

Let’s keep dreaming and setting goals, but not to the detriment of our primary vocations as sister, wife, mother, friend. Daily drown that Old Adam and know that in Christ we have true completion, fulfillment, and worth… even if that book never gets finished or that dream never gets realized.

And now my coffee is cold again. #worthit

Photo credit. Creative Commons license


  • helen

    All in good time… the book may never get written, but you may come to have another goal and reach it.
    [My graduate degree was earned after my three had theirs; then I had 21 years of satisfying work. Not “in the limelight” but a task that needed doing and in congenial company.]
    It wasn’t “church work” but it enabled me to support “church work”. So, no by-lines (yet) but more than a few “autographs”. :)

  • maryrose

    LOVE this post! I, too, have that half-written novel that nags at me ( and the cold coffee, too!). Thanks for reminding me to drown that Old Adam in the waters of baptism. My middle son and I were discussing matters of faith a while back, and he said “That’s not what we are about. We are not about doing. We are about done. We are about done-ing!” It’s my new motto. Christ done did it for me. More done-ing, less doing. ;)

  • helen

    The other day I got a book in the mail, and was up till 4 a.m. reading it. My cousin described his 57 years as a Detroit cop, a Michigan resort town sheriff and a few other law related jobs that followed until he retired, at 80 years old. He had a happy marriage, seven children, was untimely and unexpectedly widowed and 10 years later found a second wife and a marriage which continues to this day.

    Don’t give up on that novel, girls…
    we/(someone!) may get to read it some day!

    [My coffee, in a mug with a lid,
    was warm to the last drop.] :)

  • Robert

    Perhaps I don’t understand, but this piece reads something from the philosopher Plato, and not something I would read from, say, St. Paul.

    The author too readily identifies the genuine struggles, concerns, and joys humans experience in living in this current world with the Old Adam. Wondering what to do next, looking for fulfillment , enjoying success after a fruitful endeavor–these are part and part of what it means to be human, not what it means to have a fallen nature. Sin isn’t the highs and lows of life, it is rather how we deal with those highs and lows and, more importantly, why we do what we do (or don’t do, as the case may be).

    Instead of self-medicating with negative narcissism (finding pleasure in constantly bashing oneself), the thoughtful person will step back from the current moment, make an assessment of the situation, confess where one’s been wrong, cry over a hurt, and laugh and smile at all those things that bring joy and happiness in life.

    So, confess the sin of laziness or lack of planning or poor prioritization for the non-completion of the novel. THAT’s the Old Adam, not the fact that it’s wrong that you might feel good if you do complete it.

    Enough with the Norwegian “all good feelings are sinful” schtick. It’s simply not Lutheran.

  • Beth

    I love ❤️ it too. Thanks for reminder of my sins / flesh and old Adam and purpose of why I am here not for myself. Give God the Glory .

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