“Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
I still remember the first resume I ever wrote. I was applying for a position at a college library, and I had only ever worked in one other library previously (as a student worker). I struggled to enumerate my previous work experience in such a way that highlighted the way my skills could easily transfer to work in a library. I felt like an imposter as I maneuvered my words to create a picture of competence in a field in which I had little experience. As for my weaknesses? I tried to make those seem less daunting by reminding the person doing the hiring that I was a fast learner and could make up for any deficits through hard work and determination.
Resumes are an opportunity for the job applicant to produce evidence that she or he is the right match for the job. They are an opportunity for us to prove ourselves to others.
As a recovering perfectionist, I have a few decades of experience at producing evidence to prove myself worthy. (Notice how even here I am trying to show you that I have some credibility to speak to this topic.) I have worked to create an “Enough Resume” to prove to myself and others that I am worthy of being loved. For my previous work experience, I list out the ways I have overworked myself, taken on too many commitments, and stressed myself out but followed through anyway. For my strengths, I boast of my stick-to-itiveness, and whatever other traits I can think of to prove that I deserve to be loved.
“We can never prove our worth through our accomplishments or inspire people to treat us with care and love because we’ve produced enough results.”
Here’s the problem: it doesn’t work. We can never prove our worth through our accomplishments or inspire people to treat us with care and love because we’ve produced enough results. In my book The Sacred Pulse: Holy Rhythms for Overwhelmed Souls, I realized this: “Even very good activities can become very exhausting activities when we do them to convince ourselves and others that we are worthy of being loved.” Ouch.
Part of giving up busyness for Lent is finding the courage to erase the “Enough Resume.” In a famous passage of scripture, the apostle Paul (who I think also struggled to accept that he didn’t have to earn the love of God and others) wrote about a “thorn in the flesh” that plagued him. We don’t know if this was a physical ailment, or something else, but whatever it was, it seemed to have reminded Paul of his human limitations in a painful way. It confronted him with the reality that he could not produce enough or do enough with his human strength. Ultimately, it was going to be up to God.
“God’s grace is enough.”
In response to Paul’s pleading, the Lord responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” God’s grace is enough. It is sufficient. We have deficits and weaknesses and imperfections, but we do not earn God’s love by assuring God that we’re quick learners and will get our messed-up-ness figured out in our first couple of weeks on the job. Instead, God’s grace meets our weaknesses, and somehow that is enough.
Prayer: God, I am taking my “Enough Resume” and wiping it clean. Help me to receive the grace and love you offer to me, and help me to trust that it is not up to me to earn it. Amen.