Beware of practicing your piety before (others).
There’s a public display of piety at my grocery store.
A magazine cover beside the cashier features a woman
in the mountain yoga pose, eyes serenely closed,
a self-satisfied smile on her lips.
Below her tranquil face, the text reads, I am enough.
Well, Methinks the lady doth protest too much.
I mean, does anyone who is that sure they are enough assume a yoga pose
on a silly magazine cover proclaiming
that they are enough?
I ‘m not criticizing yoga.
I just wrote dust jacket endorsement for a yoga book.
I respect the kindness of assuring people of their worth.
We do have worth.
We are God’s children, created in God’s image.
God has wonderfully created and yet more wonderfully
restored the dignity of human nature.
But are we, in ourselves, enough to handle life’s challenges?
The leading proponent of I am enough philosophy
is author, motivational speaker,
and personal trainer, Marisa Peer.
She also offers hypnotherapy,
programs to change our thoughts,
and ways to lose weight.
If I’m enough, why do I need to get hypnotized,
change my thoughts,
and lose weight?
Maybe I'm too much.
Peer also sells an audio titled
Why Lying To Yourself Could Be A Good Thing.
You see why I’m suspicious?
No ancient spiritual tradition says we are enough
-- not the Hindu Vedas, the Buddhist Sutras, or the Bible.
Are we stronger than Shakespeare’s
slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
. . . the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to?
The only prayer I’ve ever prayed with 100% sincerity is Help!
It’s my prayer when I know good and well I’m not enough.
We may occasionally work up an inflated illusion
But deep inside, we know we are not enough.
So we spend our lives compensating.
Maybe we can make enough money to be ok.
In the 1960s, oil tycoon, J. Paul Getty,
was the world’s richest man.
A journalist asked him,
Mr. Getty, how much money do you need?
How much is enough?
Getty answered, Just one more dollar.
Maybe we listen to the right music, read the right books,
or have the right friends.
But Ecclesiastes says, I have seen all the(se) deeds
that are done under the sun.
They are mere chasing after the wind.
Polishing our resume and reciting the I am enough mantra
won’t wash away our dusty nature, our human frailly.
So on Ash Wednesday, we admit,
that (we) are dust and to dust (we) shall return.
But these aren’t words of despair. Quite the opposite.
Holy Scripture is the roadmap for our journey from dust to glory.
St. Augustine showed us how that works.
He tried everything to compensate for not being enough.
He won at sports.
He used romantic conquests to prove to he was desirable.
He tried to get rich.
He became a famous scholar.
But it didn’t work.
Augustine summed up his achievements and said:
We pursued the empty glory of popularity,
ambitious for the applause of the audience . . .
to win a garland of mere grass.
But the story has a happy ending.
Augustine discovered that his sense of inadequacy
was really his longing for God.
He said, There is a God-shaped hole in every human heart
that only God can fill.
God is enough. Only God is enough.
Dean Richard recently spoke of our absolute dependence
He was echoing the greatest 19th Century theologian,
Freiderich Schleiermacher, who said
faith means admitting our absolute dependence on God.
As the old hymn says,
I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord.
I need thee. O I need thee. Every hour I need thee.
Paul didn’t measure up either.
The Corinthians fired him.
Besides his physical handicap,
Paul’s sermons were so boring
a young man in a balcony fell asleep
and plummeted to his death.
So if your neighbor starts nodding, give them a little nudge.
Paul didn’t measure up, but he did a fine job of compensating.
If anyone has reason for confidence . . . I have more.
Then he read us his impressive resume.
Paul had the degrees, certificates, and credentials.
But then he said, Now I count all these things as rubbish
– that’s the translator’s polite word for what Paul actually said
I count (them) all as rubbish compared to the surpassing worth
of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord.
Not -enough-ness is the God-shaped hole in our heart.
The journey begins in dust – nowhere else.
When we give our flawed, failed, futile selves to God,
that’s when we become whole.
Only God is enough. Only in God are we enough.
In God, we will be abundantly more than enough.
Austrian psychotherapist, Eugene Gendlin,
called today’s sovereign self-reliance process skipping.
Buddhist psychologist John Wellwood calls it spiritual bypassing.
Both say to skip the trip is to miss the goal.
We reach the East by sailing West.
To see the light we face our deeper darkness.
The path to God -- our hope and our joy --
begins when we admit
that we are dust and to dust we shall return.