Lately I have found myself experiencing that familiar feeling again. You know, the one that comes when you compare yourself to people around you. The same feeling that you get when you don’t think you are accomplishing anything with your life. That feeling that likes to poke its ugly green head up every once in a while to say “You are not good enough.” Yea, that one.
This feeling, the “you are not good enough” feeling, is one that I am pretty used to by now. It’s the same feeling I had growing up being the shy, backwards little boy with freckles that liked to play with dolls in a family where all the other boys liked to be loud and pass baseballs and footballs. It’s the same feeling I had in high school when my Old Navy brand jeans were not as cool as the popular kid’s Hollister brand jeans. And it’s the same feeling I had when I visited McAfee School of Theology for the first time, thinking that I was not smart enough, religious enough, or even wealthy enough to think about going to seminary.
I thought that I had finally knocked this feeling when I did in fact attend and graduate from seminary at the McAfee School of Theology. Somewhere in the middle of studying Old Testament, preaching my first sermon, becoming more comfortable giving presentations in front of the class, and being overwhelmed with conversations in Ethics, I realized that I am called by God to do this thing called ministry. I grew to understand that calling more clearly as I was able to articulate my passion for the littlest people in the church. I know that I am called to minister to children. I finally felt like I was good enough to do this thing of which God has called me to be a part.
But then I graduated, and here it is seven months later and I am working as a fulltime nanny. This is not quite the way I envisioned myself working with children. From 7:30am to 5:30pm every day I spend my time filling sippy cups, wiping butts, and picking up scattered toys for two little kids. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love these two kids! I enjoy showing up to work each day to laugh and play with these two toddlers. However, this job is not going to make the payments for my student loans that become due next month, nor is it a job in a church like I expected to be by this time after graduation.
In the meantime, while I am nannying, I am seeing on Facebook that another one of my peers just got hired fulltime on a church staff as their new Minister to Youth. I am learning that my peers who have not yet graduated already have ministry jobs lined up after graduation in May! I am receiving yet another invitation to an ordination service for another one of my friends. PLEASE hear me say that I am genuinely happy for each of these people. I celebrate alongside my seminary peers as they continue in their callings and find employment in churches and become ordained by their congregations. I rejoice with them, but I am becoming jealous, and the jealousy is telling me that I am just not good enough.
I must not be a good enough minister to be wanted by a church. My resume must not be impressive enough. I must not be good enough at networking, or I would have had a job in a church by now. These are the lies that I hear that ugly green monster, named Jealousy, telling me. I have begun to listen to these lies again, and to believe them as true.
Then today, something odd happened. You see, those two kids that I nanny are actually my two youngest siblings. Often, my father will stop by the house throughout the day while I am watching the children and we will get into random conversations. Today’s conversation was focused around politics and the approaching presidential election. This conversation continued for close to an hour before my father realized what time it was and that he needed to get back to work on the farm. I was sitting in the floor changing another poopy diaper when the conversation jumped tracks. After my father had put on his boots, before heading out the door, he stopped. He said, “You know, you are making a difference.” I didn’t respond because I wasn’t quite sure yet what he was talking about. He continued, “I know this probably isn’t what you saw yourself doing after graduation, and it probably isn’t what you want to do forever, but for now you are making a difference in the lives of these kids.”
I still didn’t know what to say so I didn’t respond. Quickly, the sound of my father’s voice had changed and began to sound like the prophetic voice of God. While sitting in the floor with a messy diaper in my hand, God was speaking to me. God was using my father to remind me that I am called and that I am good enough. Just because right now I am not in a church ministry setting does not change the calling I know I have from God. I intentionally chose to move back to Kentucky after graduation because I feel that God has called me to be her, to be close to my family. God has graciously made a way for me to live life with my family during this season, and I am extremely grateful for that.
I am reminded that my calling and my worth does not depend on the calling of my peers. I am reminded that each of our callings are uniquely different as each of us as ministers are uniquely different. When I begin to compare my current location and realities to the location and realities of those I view as successful, that is when I set myself up for trouble. I should not be looking at other ministers to be the example that I follow. I should continue to stay focused on God as the narrator of my calling.
I am sure that this will not be the last time that I find myself feeling “less than,” but it is nice to know that when I do find myself in this pit of self-doubt God will find a way to remind me, in the most unexpected ways and at the most unexpected times, that I am enough.