“You are enough.”
“Believe in yourself.”
These are popular messages I see often being spoken and shared among women, particularly in Christian circles. These trendy phrases are usually well-meaning and come as a means of comfort when someone has hurt or rejected us or to encourage us that we can do anything we set our minds to.
As believers, we are removing Jesus from the equation entirely if we simply believe in ourselves because we are enough. Regardless of the intent of the message, it’s just not the truth. The truth is, without Jesus, I am nothing. Without the One who gives me life, I am but a dead vine, producing no good fruit. Believing the lie that we are enough, we can dive headfirst into arrogance, forming ourselves into an idol that deserves the very best simply because we exist. If I am enough, I do not need a Savior for I can save myself. If I am enough, then there is no need to pursue holiness because I am fine just as I am. If I believe in myself, when I inevitably fail, I will have nothing left to believe in. If I am enough, I have no need to rely on anyone, even Jesus.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 (NIV)
When we have been hurt or wronged, we start looking for words of hope and acceptance, often from other women. Messages of hope are plentiful thanks to social media. It’s easy to think we’ve found the cure for our hurt beneath a beautiful image on Instagram. Instead, we are getting a band-aid message to place over our gaping wounded heart. The scar tissue that builds beneath the bandage can be used by the enemy to do the opposite of what was originally intended. Instead of reminding us who we are in Jesus, we may believe only in ourselves and when the next difficulty comes and knocks us down, we only have ourselves to blame. Blame often turns to shame, which isolates us from the Lord and other believers.
Isolation from God and others are favorite tools of our enemy to keep us under his thumb. Believing the lie that I am all I need in this life because God and others will only let me down is truly antithetical to how scripture commands us to live. It is difficult to keep God’s greatest commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 NIV) if you are walking through life believing that your sole focus should be on yourself. Self-love is a popular message but it does not allow room to serve others sacrificially and certainly leaves no space to allow your life to point others to the Gospel.
This does not suggest that we are unworthy of love or that we should lack confidence. True confidence as a woman of God does not come from believing in myself or knowing who I am. It comes from believing in Him and that I am His. Words matter in the framework of our hearts and rather than saying, “I am enough” I want to say “I can do all things through Christ…” or “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” True confidence comes from knowing that we are tied into the strong vine who knows us intimately and will provide what is best for us. He knows the fruit that we are capable of bearing now and in the future. Friends, you are not enough. And neither am I. But He is. And for that, I am so thankful.