It wasn’t about the shoes at all, really, but as it usually happens, something as innocuous as a too-small pair of tee ball cleats became the spark igniting all the fire and fury my human heart can bear.
He didn’t mean anything by it, and deep down I knew that. But when he did the parental “toe mash” on her foot as she modeled her new pink and black cleats, he looked over his shoulder and said, “I think her toe is right up against the end.” Harmless fatherly words of observation…..but what did I hear?
You had one job – get her some cleats – and you couldn’t even do that right.
I reacted as a hypersensitive adolescent, tossing the shoe box onto the bed and marching away. I muttered under my breath something about how I couldn’t do anything well enough and made myself scarce for an hour or so until I cooled off.
And at some point while I sat alone on the stairs, my face buried in my hands and my family’s voices drifting my way, I realized that it wasn’t really about the shoes. It was about my heart, and my deep-seeded belief that I’m just not cut out for this whole parenting thing. I wept, asking God one of those questions that makes perfect sense in the moment but that sounds absurd later: “Why would you have chosen me to be her mama when I can’t even buy a pair of shoes for her?”
I caught my breath, then, as I heard the word I myself had used: chosen.
Because in that moment, I realized that being preapproved (as I’ve been exploring through my Lenten journey of smashing my love idol) isn’t just about how other people see me. It’s not just about seeking love and wanting to be accepted by people I know. It’s not just about how my thoughts are far too often on my clothing…my words….my reputation….my image, rather than on what God Himself says about me. It’s not just about those things, but is about the implications of what it means to be preapproved.
Being preapproved means that I am chosen for this one, beautiful, hard, meaningful life He has given me. He chose me. Of all the women in the world, He chose me to be her mama. Of all the women, He chose me to be the wife of my man. He chose me to be in the family I was raised in. The church community I cherish. The city I live in and the entire context of my life.
And if I am chosen? Then I am enough.
I am good enough. I am smart enough. I am loving enough and pretty enough and fun enough and just, well, enough. And when I am not enough? When I make mistakes and feel like I’m drowning and just. can’t. do. it. another. day? Well…..it’s in those moments of shameful inadequacy that His heart beats a little faster. It’s in those moments of not enough that He scoops up my inadequacies and makes them sufficiencies.
As my friend Jennifer writes in her book, “God loves us as we are, not as we think we should be…Christ shows favoritism toward human weakness.” He has a special fondness for those things that show how inadequate I really am, and when I’m falling short, I am exactly where He wants me to be. So no matter how much I may chastise myself for buying the wrong size cleats….for leaving dirty dishes in the sink….for having to rewash that load of towels because I left them in the washer too long….for my shoes left scattered in the middle of the floor again or for forgetting to buy more juice boxes or for speaking harsh words in a moment of anger…..no matter how I may condemn myself, He still chooses me.
I am preapproved, and that goes for every area of my crazy, beautiful, impossibly hard life. I am chosen, and I am enough. Not because I am an amazing person who does everything perfectly, but precisely because I am not.