Thursday, May 2, 2013

Good Enough


I once had a professor in medical school named Dr. Goodenough. He was more than good enough. He was integral in some way I cannot remember in either the Civil Rights Movement itself or was vocal in advocating for underrepresented minority students at the medical school. Either way, he was an excellent educator, investigator and physician.

Apart from the cool name, I've always taken good enough, in the description of people, as a partial slur. Kind of like Mr. Zuckerman's "That'll do, pig. That'll do." It felt like settling. It felt like my mom saying, "I'd rather you get Cs and be happy."

No, that was not acceptable. I scoffed at that. Daddy understood. Even the A minuses from AP courses that therefore counted as As didn't feel quite right. No. Good enough is too easy. I took that from school and placed into my spiritual life, and being human was too easy. Just being was too easy. In order to strive in the way of God, I should have always striven to be better. We are imperfect but I should always strive to be perfect.

As I put it in a previous entry, I am striving for impossible. And if you are striving for impossible, won't you always be flustered?

Imagine how hard it was for me, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, to read Brené Brown's Daring Greatly. Imagine how much harder it was for me to read that not only is perfectionism a shield from vulnerability, but that it is destructive. It's not striving for success or challenge or excellence, it's striving to be liked and accepted.

I have spent much of my childhood and adult life slinking through the path of least resistance, trying to find the way to be to be most liked by those around me or, even better, to be the most liked by the people I would potentially meet. I took politeness to be, how can I mold myself to be the most pleasant to passersby? And then I amplified it and carried it with me through the rest of life.

How could I be to be most loved by a man? How could I be to be the most loved by both of my parents simultaneously? Who could I bring home who would make not only my parents reasonably happy, but also fit into my large and crazy extended family? Good enough...oh no, not good enough for my loved ones.

But what about good enough for me?

I was never enough for me. There was always something deficient. Spirituality was no longer a haven, it was a prison that I couldn't leave until I was good enough. And I was never good enough. And good enough wasn't good enough, it had to be near perfect. It never occurred to me that here and now could ever be good enough.

And because I wouldn't let myself be good enough, no one was good enough for me.

Not that I now believe in settling, because it's not the same. It's just that when you're more content with where you are in the moment, you are more apt to see people in the moment, than try to project your future self to line up with a current man who would fit well with your ideal self that you hope to attain in the next year, but not with you.

When I let my now be good enough, I allowed myself to see who I actually am and what is currently important to me. It feels brazenly wordly and I'm still struggling with the concept. But good enough, am I good enough?

I'm more than good enough, by God's grace.

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