The epic struggle of my life has been feeling inadequate. I’m sure I’m not alone. When I was a working mommy, I felt like I wasn’t able to give 100% to either my job or my family. I felt horribly inadequate. Even now as just a stay-at-home mom of littles, it’s so easy to feel inadequate. Just this week Sophie was nearly mauled by our neighbor’s dog because Micah had fallen and was crying, and I turned my back on her for just a minute. Like greased lightening she ran around the end of our unfinished fence, unaware that our neighbor’s dog, while not mean, might just take her out. Fortunately I am swift of foot and long of leg. Poor Micah was abandoned, crying on the ground, as I sprinted to rescue Sophie. I’m sure my mad dash into the neighbor’s yard and my frantic yelling did nothing to help the dog stay calm, but my mommy adrenaline was in overdrive. For about 10 seconds, we were all terrified and unsure of what was happening – myself, Sophie, the poor dog. How many times have I wished that I could multiply myself into four or six more Catherines so that we could all take care of everything and everyone. I especially felt this way right after Micah was born. A newborn has so many needs, and a confused two-year-old who has just been unthroned in the family as the sole reigning heir has many as well. I always felt like I was neglecting someone. What a juggling act we undertake as mommies. I learned early on that I was not going to feel like enough, but I refused to allow those feelings to define me as inadequate. Yes, there are still many days that I feel inadequate, but I know that God has chosen me for this task, me specifically, for Sophie and for Micah, and he has equipped me for this purpose.
Great news for you if you’re not a mommy — this is true in all aspects of life! No matter what you spend your time doing, I’m sure many of you, like me, have felt inadequate at one time or another. But, God has chosen and equipped you for the purposes he has in mind for your time on this earth. This is another gem I’ve discovered in my study of identity. God has created each of us with unique talents, passions, gifts, abilities, etc. If you like fitness or nature or sports, great! You don’t need to be a librarian in a long skirt to fit God’s plan for you! He’s not asking you to be something he hasn’t made you to be. I used to think that I had to figure it out, to fit in this box that was what God had for me. Now I see that he’s created in me a love for certain activities and certain people groups, so it’s what’s already in me that tells me what he wants me to be. He created us each differently because he has different places and people for us to reach in a unique way. Maybe we are too concerned about figuring out who we’re supposed to be. Maybe we should just do what we love doing (not destructive things, ahem) and share the love of Jesus with those around us.
The story of Gideon (Judges 6-7) is a beautiful reminder that God sees more in us than we see in ourselves. Gideon, and Israelite, considers himself the lowest member of his family, in the weakest branch of the family tree. When the angel of the Lord finds him, he is hiding from the Midianites, threshing wheat in a winepress. He is not exactly the picture of strength. And what, you may wonder, is God calling him to do? To deliver the Israelites from the captivity of the big bad bullies also known as the Midiantes. Yikes! I imagine that Gideon must have had one of those moments of looking around for somebody else in the winepress: “Oh, you’re talking to me? You mean me? You do see that I’m hiding down here, right, Lord? Why don’t you go ask Steve over there, he’s from a much better family than me!” Oh, Gideon. He doesn’t want to do what God is asking him to do. He clearly sees himself as inadequate.
Even after Gideon accepts what the Lord has for him, he continually asks for signs and encouragement from the Lord, because he is still afraid. And what I love about God is that he gives it to him. He gives him even more signs and encouragement than Gideon asks for. In this, I see how good and how loving our God is. He’s not mad at us when we feel fearful or inadequate. He longs that we would trust him and know that he is calling us not into something we aren’t designed for, but into a purpose that he created us exactly to fill.
I love some of God’s first words to Gideon when he’s calling him forth: “Go in the strength you have and save Israel.” He already sees Gideon’s strength, even though Gideon himself doesn’t see it. God has gifted each of us and he sees precisely how we are gifted and why we are gifted that way. If we follow his leading, we will find his gentle guidance moving us into what he has planned for us to do. He is the source of our giftings, after all, and he is the power behind them. In the end of Gideon’s story, he does take victory over the Midianites, but with only a measly 300 troops, who never really even attack. They just make a bunch of noise and, as the story says, God confuses the Midianites and they basically defeat themselves.
God sees your strengths. He is not calling you into something that he hasn’t created and equipped you for. You don’t have to have it all figured out right away. Just walk with the Lord and take the next best step. When it’s time for another step, he’ll show you the way. Go in the strength you have.