At the onset of check marks, sticker charts, and “atta-girls”, I was hooked. Something about receiving praise and accolades fanned a fire in me. I loved it–craved it. From an early age, I believed if I worked hard, behaved correctly, and followed the rules, I would earn the best place. The theme song of my life became, “If you do enough, you’ll be enough.”
So I set out to do and be enough. As a result, I crafted my identity on all of the ‘wonderful things’ I did for God.
Then one day the walls of my beautifully designed identity came tumbling down, brick by brick, unable to withstand the pressure of a hard world and an ever changing standard.
Looking over the rubble of a shattered identity, I could still hear the faint echo of the song that broke me:
“If you do enough, you’ll be enough.”
As I stood above the remains of a broken me, I realized there were some major “holes” in the gospel I’d believed in for a long time.
The “Good Girl” Gospel
To say that I grew up in the church would be a huge understatement. I lived at the church. As soon as I was old enough, I volunteered in every way I could. College opened up more doors to lead ministries and after marrying my youth pastor husband, even more doors opened up for us to serve in ministry together.
Hear me out, it’s amazing to be a part of building God’s kingdom through teaching doctrine and sharing the gospel in creative ways. However, for most of those years, I was unknowingly using ministry to fuel another type of gospel– The Good Girl Gospel.
The Good Girl Gospel hinges on the belief that your works, behavior, and lack of ‘big sins’ act as credits towards God’s love and acceptance. The Good Girl Gospel is completely up to you and essentially all about you–your works, your enoughness, your productivity, your merit. This gospel affirmed my long-time conviction that if I did enough, I’d be enough for God. And according to my “good-works” resume, God and I were in good-standing.
This gospel was the rock I stood on; that is, until it became the boulder that broke my back. Working out my salvation as if it was all up to me was a ridiculously heavy weight to bear. It left me feeling completely worthless, panic-stricken, and distant from the God I so desperately wanted to please.
The Life-Saving Four Words
”For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Romans 5:10
In the midst of my futile attempts to restore a broken identity, the LORD whispered the most assuring words that stopped my striving soul in its tracks:
“It’s not about you.”
It wasn’t the finger-wagging, condescending type of “It’s not about you.” It was the weight-lifting, soul-freeing, I-can-finally-breathe-now “It’s not about you.”
Through those four words, I learned the beauty of the real Gospel: that we have been saved because of Jesus’ life, His perfection, “enoughness”, and sacrifice. It’s not about what we “do” to get to God. It’s about what Jesus did to get to us. Forsaking His heavenly home, Jesus left perfection to enter into our imperfection. He took our sin-filled life and gave us His life. His death gave us His credibility and righteousness. We are enough in Him and only because of Him.
A New Foundation
Remembering the real gospel everyday has honestly been a struggle for me. But I’m learning that a broken foundation allows the Lord to build a new foundation–one that is firm and built strictly on His righteousness instead of our own.
What a relief that Jesus came for us. What a joy it is to walk with Him, be known by Him, and to have experienced His divine rescue. In a season where we truly can make it “all about us”, let us instead rejoice in all that Christ has done for us.