Remember back a few weeks (or was it months?) ago, when I wrote about how I was tired of thinking, “I want, I want, I want…” all the time? I said that when I caught myself thinking that pesky little phrase, I would repeat a new mantra to myself: “I am enough and Christ is enough in me.”
I’m having mixed results.
It’s true that I’ve restrained my personal spending in some areas. I haven’t bought one new autumn decoration, and if that’s not a sign of personal growth, I don’t know what is. I have occasionally (but only occasionally) resisted the urge to run through the Starbucks drive-through. I don’t know that the frequency of my wanting has decreased at all, but in some regards, the consumption has. I’d be lying if I said I’ve been entirely happy about it. I often feel all grumpy and entitled when I decide not to purchase something. But I think I’m making (very, very teeny tiny) baby steps in the right direction. My old pastor used to say “Put your body in the right place and your heart will follow,” and I think that’s what I’m trying to do here.
At any rate, I have a story to tell you.
I’d been eagerly awaiting the release of Liz Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I went to Schuler’s on the evening of its release, in part to write and in part to take a look at that book. I found it as soon as I walked through the doors: it was sitting with a bunch of other hardbacks on a “New and Notable” table, all shiny and new and proud. I grabbed a copy off the table and meandered to the back of the store, where I plopped myself onto a VERY saggy couch to write.
I was debating whether or not to purchase the book, knowing that it will take me forever to get my hands on it at the library, and also knowing it’s the type of book I like to own: well-underlined, sticky-notes throughout, asterisks and brackets in the margins.
At the same time, I knew that I had well exceeded our book buying and fun money budget as of late. I knew Evan would be sweet and kind and not really mind if I bought it anyway, but I also knew that we have a new baby coming in a few months time, along with the requisite cost of diapers and winter clothes and extra hand soap. But I sat there having this internal debate and feeling very put out about the whole thing.
In the end, when I walked out the bookstore doors an hour or two later, I put the book back amongst its hardcover friends. As I walked toward my car in the parking lot, I repeated the mantra to myself: “I am enough, and Christ is enough in me.”
And at that very moment, I had a bit of a breakthrough. You know those moments, right? I caught my breath in my throat and felt tears rush to my eyes, surprised by my own thoughts and the realization that was catching me off-guard. It was as if Jesus Himself said to me in that moment, “You hear that? You are enough.”
I realized just then that my true reason for wanting the book was this sneaking feeling that I was not, in fact, enough. Not creative enough, not talented enough, not disciplined enough to eek out writing of any significance. I wanted to buy Gilbert’s book because I was thinking it would help me become more the person I want to be: brave, creative, prolific. A writer.
I know that Liz herself (I can call her Liz, right?) would scoff at this whole notion, tell me that I have everything I need to do my best work right inside me all along. And I would tell her right back that I know it’s true in my head, but I’m not sure I believe it most days.
When I decided that I didn’t in fact need to purchase the book, I also had to ask myself whether or not I actually believed I needed it to become who I want to be, or the person God made me to be.
Don’t get me wrong–I love Liz Gilbert, and I am quite convinced that this book is full of all sorts of wisdom and encouragement and experience that will do any creative person a world of good to read. I am going to buy it, and probably sooner rather than later. But I still needed the reminder that there is a difference between being inspired or encouraged by something and trying to search for your identity in it.
I don’t actually need the book. I just don’t.
I can learn to listen for and write with my own voice. I can trust in the life Christ is building within me. And then I can sit down and do the work, even if it doesn’t feel particularly magical on most days.
I am enough and Christ is enough in me.