Brene Brown teaches us to say that we are enough. It’s wise and gracious advice.
Her research shows that a hypercritical, perfectionist tyrant abides deep within many of us. This tyrant’s voice will be male or female depending upon the settings for your internal Siri.
My tyrant is male. But I suspect that his message would be the same even if the voice was switched to female. “I’ll never be able to unsee those love handles.” “You’re such a lousy parent.” “You better hope they never find out how incompetent you are at this job.”
Saying, “I am enough,” is an act of psychological resistance. For now, it may not completely silence the tyrant’s voice. But saying that I am enough will take us toward a healthier place.
In his letter to a fledgling Jesus community, John says something very similar. Only, he helps us broaden what it means to claim that we are enough. He helps us take up the spiritual vocation of resistance.
John puts it this way. “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” (1 John 3:1) God loves us. Not because of our career success or our sculpted abs or our fervent prayer life. God loves us because God wants to. That’s just how God is.
God’s love is more than how God happens to feel about us. God’s love is like electricity. For instance, our dog Gracie recently expressed her displeasure with being left alone for too long by chewing the plug of our Dyson vacuum cleaner.
The motor remained in perfect working order. There was no flaw in the dust and dirt canister. The patented Dyson ball still allowed for a wide range of motion with minimal effort. But without electricity, our vacuum became little more than an expensive door stop.
A vacuum cleaner is what it most truly is when it can do what it is meant to do. And a vacuum will only clean floors when electric current flows through it.
God’s love is already flowing through us making us what we truly are. Or, as John puts it, Christ abides in us. And we are what we truly are when we do what we were meant to do. As the image of God, we are meant to embody and to pass on God’s love. That love is what will repair a broken world.
That’s what John means when he says that God’s love makes us God’s children. We are enough. And everyone we meet is enough. Our love—God’s love flowing through us—is an act of resistance to tyranny. To the tyranny that insists that some are less than others. And the tyranny is not only psychological. It is political. Social. Economic.
To tyranny in all its forms we say that each of us is enough. No tyrant of any size or shape or political party can ultimately rob us of our identity as the beloved children of God.
We children of God are devoted to making the world into the world that God wants. The world where all God’s children recognize and treat each other as God’s own flesh. To the forces that diminish and dismantle and terrorize anyone, we say, “We are enough.” And we say something even more.
Maya Angelou put it like this:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
And we will eventually rise to a new creation. We will not rise merely to be slapped down and oppressed and ignored and ridiculed again and again. The love that flows through us is giving birth to a new creation. A new heaven and a new earth.
That is why John does not stop at merely saying that we are enough. He says that we are becoming more. He puts it like this: “What we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him.” (1 John 3:2b)
In Christ, we are enough. In Christ, we will rise.