Eight years ago this week I was diagnosed with a chronic illness after decades of perfect health. For about a year I only had periodic instances of debilitating pain, but with time Crohn’s disease took over my life. I was constantly nauseous and in pain, I couldn’t eat and therefore had no energy. For all the pain and uncertainty of my illness, an even greater anxiety hung over my identity: if I couldn’t do all the things I had done, if I couldn’t contribute to my community, if I couldn’t be productive, was I worth anything?
Hard times can reveal the crutches we rely on to prop up our self-image. If, when all the props are stripped away, you worry that you’re not enough, read Peggy Weber’s new book, Enough As You Are.
Part prayerbook, part memoir, part advice, Enough As You Are helps us navigate a number of spiritual tripwires. Maybe you suffer from comparing yourself to others, of you strive to keep up with your neighbors, or you are ashamed of your career or education, or you wonder if you are truly loved. Chapters with titles like “impressive enough”, “loved enough”, “stuff enough”, cover many of the ways we doubt ourselves. Each section includes the wisdom of a particular saint, advice for putting faith into practice and an examen based on the themes of that chapter.
Recognizing ourselves as truly beloved children of God is a challenge in a world that wants to distract us with items to buy or things to accomplish. Our unique areas of inadequacy can start to be triggered when we are very young, and Weber wisely includes stories from her childhood and young adulthood to illustrate some of the ways she has felt not enough. All of the advice is given with patience and understanding; these wounds that started long ago can take a long time to heal.
Five years ago this week I had surgery that put me into remission, and against all odds I have stayed asymptomatic since then. I battled through physical trauma and figured out how to manage the stress of growing back into myself. Unlike some people who say “if I get my health back I’ll slow down”, my plan was always to plow back into my work if I found good health again. I made good on my promise, but I’m able to enjoy my productivity because I do work that matters to me. I don’t need the work to know that I am loved. There is a healthy, life-giving perspective that comes from recognizing that you are enough as you are.
This post includes affiliate links. A copy of Enough As You Are was provided to me by the publisher.