Through Jesus I Am "Good Enough"

by Jeremy Smith

I found myself one morning sitting on a park bench next to the pond near my house with my head in my hands and tears in my eyes trying to understand how life could have gotten this bad. I had been told the worst news about my marriage. I had extreme lack of sleep that was destroying my body. I was chasing fulfillment in higher education. Trying to keep up with being a good dad for my two boys and doing my part to care for my newborn girl. Drowning in work at my job. Stretching my time too thin to help around the house. Sitting on that bench I thought, "What am I supposed to do from here? How does anything get better from this? I'm so broken and I did it to myself.”
Then memories started flooding in. Flashback to twenty-five years earlier and growing up I was the kid known as the one who had the heart, but never the innate skill. I never had any money, but I was willing to outwork most. I was never the one to be picked "first." I was the kid who was driven through will to claw his way into being "good enough." In high school, I was told I was a good student, but not the best. This scared me a lot, but I followed my heart and took more advanced courses. I pushed myself into playing sports where I was again told I had heart but no talent. Then I went into band where I practiced for hours on end only to be told again that I had heart, but not the talent to go further.
In college I struggled with every class and always felt like the guy who always was asking for help. After finding out my dad had cancer, I was barely able to graduate. I didn't have any job prospects, so I took a job for $5.25 an hour delivering electric bills in the mail. I left there to travel across the country with little more than the clothes on my back to keep the girl that was the light of my life. She stuck by me but told me that something needed to change. I had dreamed of going to graduate school but was told that I had a lot of heart, but not the grades to get in. Failing to find a job and without a better idea, I took the GRE three times to get decent enough scores to be able to sit in the school office and literally beg to be let in on a provisional status.
Then, within three months of starting school again, I was mugged and kidnapped at gunpoint. That really messed with me, and it felt like I was thrown back to the starting point. After starting to learn some self-defense, I braved my fear and started myself back out there and was able to get a good job that I worked hard to grow into. I married the girl and started a family but was still trying to be "good enough." I threw myself into education and business trying to fill the void I felt.
Back to the park bench, I thought about how I've struggled my whole life, and for what purpose? To be sitting on a park bench in tears as everything was imploding?
Two days later, on a Sunday morning, I was taking a shower and recalled some of the lyrics to "I Can Only Imagine." Would I stand in His presence? Would I be able to speak at all? Overwhelmed with the realization that I could do neither, I fell to my knees in tears and finally let everything go. I finally surrendered myself and prayed like I never had before.
It was then that I felt hugged as the water of my shower poured over me. I felt loved and it almost felt like a random thought that I should ask more about baptism when we went to church later. I was given a feeling that this was just the beginning of something glorious, but that I would have to be brave for the next part.
At church that morning, Pastor Steve felt led to say that someone in the audience needed to be baptized. I again felt an urging telling me to not to be afraid but to be brave and put my hand up. My hand wasn't seen at first, but I felt an urging so strongly to put my hand up again as I whispered to myself "be brave, be brave, be brave." Walking up I was so nervous, but while backstage I heard something in the sermon that was verbatim what I had thought that morning. That’s when I knew I made the right choice. I remembered something I’d read once that anxiety and fear have the same feelings in your body as excitement and anticipation. I then came to realize that all my trials and struggles in school and in life were about God training me how to be brave. He was prepping me for this moment so that I could be brave for the next part. It was all I could do not to tear up with emotion just before I was baptized, but all that fear literally was washed away in that moment.
I feel like I have started a new path lit by a new light at my feet that has been guiding me on how to mend my brokenness, because through Jesus, I am “good enough.” My marriage has gotten better. I feel present with my kids, and I approach life through a different lens. My walk with the Lord was the missing piece of the puzzle. I have been reading my Bible and praying every morning to frame my intentions each day to find the courage to continue to be brave and share the greatness of the gift I have been given.