The following is an excerpt from Mel B’s talk on “Not Good Enough” ( part of the ”Thrive” series) at a Friday Night Coffeehouse gathering.
When do you feel valued? When do you feel important?
We are taught from the time that we can tie our shoes that success equals importance. You pass that really hard class: “Here is your gold star smarty pants.” You make the team: “You are an all star, have a gold metal.” You have a lot of friends: “You must be really important.” You have your license: “Cool, now drive me somewhere.”
But what happens if when you made the team, you lost every game (or didn’t make the team in the first place)? What happens when it is summer break and all those friends are too busy to hang out with you? What happens when the curtain falls on your last play performance? Or what about when you get that first speeding ticket? Well, it doesn’t mean you are worthless.
I started Irish step dancing when I was 14, right before I started high school. I breathed, ate, and sleep my sport. And I was actually pretty good. I made it to the second highest level you could achieve. In this level, everyone was pretty much just as good as everyone else. In competitions, it was all about who could be just a little more perfect than everyone else. Lots of little stuff could mess you up. I had to wear these really tall socks that had to be glued to my leg! If they weren’t glued just right? Deduction. Your kicks didn’t go all the way to your nose? Deduction. You let your competitor get in front of you and you didn’t kick her and make it look like an accident? Deduction.
But one competition, I was on fire. My feet were perfect, my jumps were higher, my feet were louder, I killed my competition. I won this trophy…Isn’t it shiny? I was congratulated by people I didn’t know. Little kids wanted to take pictures with me. And one of the judges (who were usually too mean to talk) actually said I did a great job. Then a year goes by and that competition starts again. I had blown out my ankle and could no longer compete. Those judges who gave me high scores? They no longer paid attention to me. The kids who wanted to take pictures with me? They were now a year older and were too cool for school for pictures. I mean, my Mom and Dad were proud of me, but all of the excitement and glory I had experienced a year ago was gone. It didn’t last. A year ago I had felt like a champion, and now, there was someone else collecting a trophy and going through what I had went through. It had all faded away.
There is a story in the Bible about a son and a dad. The son was starting to feel really cramped at home. He knew there were bigger and better things away from his dad’s house. He wanted out, so he told his dad to give him his inheritance now. He went as far away as he could. He partied. Hard. Like a Kei$ha music video hard. He was on top of the world: he had popularity, he had friends, he had status, he had all he ever wanted. But eventually, the money ran out. His friends were no where to be seen. No one took him in or took care of him. He found himself feeling worthless, fighting with Babe the pig over garbage food. Everything that made him important, that made him feel awesome, was all gone. He found himself with nothing, with no one, and desperate for love and community.
Don’t misunderstand me though. Having friends or things or being successful is not a bad thing. But when you rely on temporary things to give you value, to give you worth, you will always fall short of your expectations. There will never be enough money, never enough friends, you will never win enough medals or have enough accomplishments to make you feel truly loved. Had I still competed, I would have been gunning for another first place trophy. Stuff of this earth will never fully satisfy our need to feel valuable. Even for James Bond, “the world was not enough”. Get it? Never mind.
So what happened to the pig-food eating son?
He went home, at least hoping to become a servant in his father’s house. His father noticed him coming from far away. AND HE RAN TO HIM AND THREW HIS ARMS AROUND HIM. Think about that for a second. His son smelled like pigs. I am sure he smelled very interesting. But his father didn’t care. He threw a giant welcome home party for this son who had come home. He loved him and was so glad to have him home.
Much like the father who ran after his son, God loves us and He is willing to run to us when we call on Him. We ourselves are enough for him. Not our status. Just us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God shows his love for us in this that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.
We don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to win State Championships. We don’t have to be the best. God loves us whether we smell like roses or pigs. He loves us for us, and wants us to find our value in him. His love is eternal. It won’t fade. When you feel like a loser, when you don’t feel like enough, when your accomplishments start to feel empty, remember that someone loves you so much that he DIED for you. And all he wants from you is for you to accept Him.