My Adventures in Online Dating, Part 2: If You’re a Christian, Swipe Right

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Give me a little time and, take all my money, take all my money

You’ll come around and someday, I’ll be the one you love.

– “Broke,” Bear Attack

Hey!

According to most men on dating apps, that’s not how you should begin a conversation with them. But I think I can say hey to all y’all, instead of thinking of a witty pickup line. (I mean, what do they want other than ‘hey’? A deep question about systematic theology? Very confused.)

But I’ll get to “what men want” in another post. What do Christians want?

In other words – should Christians use dating apps?

Well, my obvious answer is probably “yes,” since I’m currently using one myself. BUT like most topics, different people have different opinions about it.

The Bible isn’t cut-and-dry about dating apps…obviously. We all know Hosea didn’t have an awful marriage because he accidentally swiped right. Ruth didn’t get Boaz’s attention with…well…~pics.~

And then there’s Song of Songs.

BUT ANYWAY

Dating is different now than it was in Biblical contexts. It’s more different than it ever has been before. Until the later part of the 19th Century, most women were still given away by their fathers and/or the patriarch of their family – sometimes to someone they’d never met. ~Love~ really didn’t come into play all that much. It was more mutuality or convenience that drove most courtships and marriages. (Not always…I mean, we’ve all read Jane Austen. I hope.)

What I’m trying to say is, the dating game has changed. But the name of the game is the same. (Lame.)

So has Christian dating. There was that whole courtship phase we all collectively went through in the 90s, until that was overruled by both Christians and non-Christians alike. Courtship is a bit stressful, with a little bit too much commitment far too soon. (It was so bad that the guy who wrote the book apologized.) And we have our ideal, “celebrity” Christian couples, like the Duggars or the Robertsons, who we then found out each have their own fair share of problems just like the rest of us.

So now what? Now what phase are we in? If we’re not being given away, or being courted, what are we doing?

Are we being swiped? 

Well, in a word, yes.

The game has changed, and I don’t think we need to sit idly by and let it change without us. Of course there’s dangers to online dating, but there’s dangers to live dating too. And I’m not even saying you have to limit yourself to an exclusively Christian dating website. Put yourself out there.

So that’s kind of my answer. Yes. Of course a Christian can date online. But, like all aspects of living in a fallen world…you have to be careful.

Actually, I would encourage Christians to date online. The great thing about dating online is you’re spreading your net further than if you simply mingled among your work, school, or church friends. (Because to be honest, sometimes the pickings are slim. Especially at church. Everyone’s already married. Or maybe you go to an old person church.)

So yeah, definitely set up an account on a site you deem appropriate and go on dates.

But here’s the “no-duh:” only if you actually want to. 

If your female relatives keep asking you why you’re still single, that’s not a good enough reason. If your guy friends are telling you about their amazing wives, that’s not a good enough reason. If you’re just plain lonely and want someone around, that’s not a good enough reason.

The church definitely puts undue pressure on single Christians to get married. (You can’t graduate from your 20-something small group into a couples group until you do.) So if you’re seeking a partner just because you feel like you have to (or your grandma keeps asking) don’t do it. That goes for both offline and online dating. Just don’t do it. Wait til you are ready.

And only you can know if you’re ready.

That took a much more serious tone than I meant it to. But the song remains the same: I invite my young, single Christian friends to check out the online dating scene. I’ve had more interesting conversations on these dates than I normally have. And I’ve met other Christians who have different opinions than me (gasp.) So even if you don’t find your soulmate, you’ll probably meet some pretty darn cool people that you wouldn’t have met otherwise.

One last thing before I let you go. When entering the dating scene, whether it’s for the first time or after your last-breakup, remember this (another no-duh clincher:) If you like someone, don’t change your convictions for them. This can come into play especially in online dating. You see a cute guy’s profile and see what he’s interested in, and you might be tempted to, well, change. Maybe he smokes marijuana, and you’re not comfortable with that. Maybe he doesn’t mind sex before marriage. Maybe he has vastly different political opinions – or even some opinions about the Bible that you disagree with. Even if he (or she) is a Christian, that does not give you a free pass to change who you are in order for them to like you “more.” Seriously. It’s super easy to do online. I’ve definitely done it a few times.

So, my Christian brothers and sisters, go on dates. Talk to people. Swipe left. Swipe right. Remember what you believe and why you believe it. If it doesn’t work out, it’s okay. God has something better in mind for you.

Now you kiddos go have fun.

a. w.

 

 

the Hope that You Have.

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“Back when the Bible was written, then edited, then rewritten, then rewritten, then re-edited, then translated from dead languages, then re-translated, then edited, then rewritten, then given to kings for them to take their favorite parts, then rewritten, then re-rewritten, then translated again, then given to the pope for him to approve, then rewritten, then edited again, the re-re-re-re-rewritten again…all based on stories that were told orally 30 to 90 years AFTER they happened.. to people who didn’t know how to write… so…” – David Cross, actor and comedian

Any good Christian would blanch at this quote and start to sputter. “But – but – wait – that’s not the whole truth.” It kind of sets a fire under you, doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but it definitely gets me fired up. My apologetics sirens start going off. I stare that quote right in the face (or the screen, since it’s usually on Facebook) and say, “Sit down, I got something to tell you.” When I got them where I have them…I…

…blank.

A few weeks ago, I had coffee with someone who has walked away from the faith. He gave great evidence for his lack of faith, for his issues with Christianity. He hit me with scientific evidence against God. He hit me with the contradictions of the Christian faith. I sat there getting fired up, twiddling with my iced-coffee straw, waiting to say something. When I had the opportunity…I…

…blanked.

And his words sunk in.

And I started to doubt.

He asked me why I believe in God. “Is it just blind faith?” he asked.

And I blanked. And I doubted. And I questioned. And I prayed.

Why do I believe in God?

It’s like I forgot everything I was taught. I forgot tenth grade apologetics, twenty years of going to Sunday school and church and youth group, sixteen years of Christian education. I sat face-to-face with an atheist and had no idea what to say.

Why do I believe in God?

That’s not an unfamiliar question for most Christians. We reach a point in our lives when our parents aren’t around to tell us how to live, whether they were Christians or otherwise. They’re not there to tell us to go to church or tell us what to think. We have to get up and go to church, wake up and pray every morning…and have a better reason to believe than “I was just raised that way.”

This goes for any religion and any ideology, really. Once you’re on your own and can think for yourself, you have to know why you believe it.

Ever since that question was posed to me, I’ve mulled it over in my brain. In order to get answers, I went to the most reliable place I know – Facebook.

After posing the question to my friends, I got a number of different answers. I got a few different categories of responses, and most of them were to be expected. Most of them fell into the following three categories:

Evidence. “I have yet to find a reason or argument or fact that proves he doesn’t exist, and I doubt I ever will find or hear of one.” This quote from one of my friends sums it up pretty well. Similarly, one of my other friends cited her pastor who said “they’ve found the bones of Buddha and Mohammed, but not of Jesus.” Evidence-based people look for facts to back up their beliefs. Some Christians operate this way, which is why we have so many “Case for Christ“-esque films/literature.

Grace. “I don’t know where my belief and his grace even begins.” It’s hard to argue with grace, especially when it’s given freely and often. That’s what the Christian God promises – grace without end for those who choose Him. Many of my friends’ testimonies involved stories of grace and marveling at its mystery.

General Revelation. Any good Bible student knows what I’m talking about here – the way God reveals Himself through nature, to anyone who wants to take a peek. There’s not special knowledge needed, just the senses. I think more friends of mine responded with this than any other reason. “I have much faith in an intelligent creator, a higher being that created us and continues to watch over us,” said one. “I listen to or help create beautiful music and cannot stand to believe that sound could have been accidentally created,” said another, who happens to be a musician.

“Can everything that we see, and all of the infinity finite details that make up all of the world around us be unguided, random chance?” It’s kind of hard to imagine our world was created by just the right mixture of whatever matter, or an explosion.

But some might say it’s far-fetched to believe in a Big Dude in the Sky, too.

Which brings me to my other point – some people responded why they don’t believe in God. I got some fairly compelling answers there, too. Here’s a segment of one:

The way I see it, the Universe is way too wonderful and weird for there not to be some higher power or whatnot, but I guess I’m not comfortable saying that it’s the Christian God. Maybe it is, maybe it’s multiple gods, maybe it’s something even bigger that all of that, and maybe just maybe it’s nothing at all. These things, for me, are too much to try and comprehend, so I leave it alone, and focus on the things that I know and can see in my every day life.

This person identified as an agnostic, and also talked about how faith and the Bible are good things for certain people. What was interesting was no one responded by outright saying they don’t believe in God. Maybe I don’t have enough atheist friends.

A compelling comment I got was this:

I believe god either died or abandoned us long ago and that’s fine, he was selfish, full of himself, arrogant, and merciful only to those who fell for his lies. He probably had daddy issues which is why he needed mankind to worship him and acknowledge him because his dad could care less about him. I can see why. I can’t believe in that god. I believe there was a war of the gods at some point, and somehow that god won. I can no longer believe in that god. I can’t believe I ever believed in that god. I hate myself for believing in that god.

How does a Christian respond to that? How do I respond to that? It makes my skin prickle and gets me fired up…but how do I respond?

As you can see, opinions are diverse when it comes to higher powers, but they all seem to point to the same thing – a need for Something Else. Something Beyond. A belief that we’re here for a reason. Because what would the point of all this be, if that weren’t the case?

But my question still wasn’t answered. I now understood why they believe, but why do believe?

“Because my parents do” isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Neither is “just because I do.”

So, in the midst of twenty years of Christian training, hundreds of people who’ve trained me up in the way I should go, waiting for me to give voice to my faith with bated breath, I make my response.

So, why?

Because I refuse to live in a world without hope.

We can’t just be here by accident. It would be impossible for me to live if I thought this was it. There’s got to be something. Something Beyond.

I can’t live in a universe without a Creator. A truthless universe is no universe at all.

And most importantly, I can’t be a human without a Savior.

And that’s what sets Christianity apart for me. Not only is there a God, but there’s a Savior. A Savior who had the audacity to take on human flesh and save people who don’t deserve it. What other god has done that?

Is it blind faith? Quite possibly. But I’d rather believe it than believe in nothing at all.

Could I be wrong? Maybe. Maybe this is all there is. But what have I got to lose by believing?

Why do I believe? Every day, I stand in the midst of the Great Creator. He stands above any evidence against Him, rises above all doubt, and loves his Created so much that He made the ultimate sacrifice in order to declare, “They are mine.

That’s why I believe.

a.w.


Oh the mystery of it all
I can never peer within 
I’ll never find the words or understand 
The fullness of a God
Become a man

Vapor, The Liturgists

What is Authenticity?

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I follow this page on Facebook called The Dirty Christian. It’s run by a guy named Drew Koehler who found God after serving in the US Navy. This guy has a story. He also has a blog that you should check out to find out more about him. Click that link and then come back here and listen to me talk.

Koehler’s philosophy is that Christianity is supposed to be offensive. It’s not supposed to be soft and cute, full of Joyce Meyers and  “type Amen if you agree.” Real truth is disruptive. It’s not a book that we keep on the shelf and pull out only when we’re feeling sad.

And you know what Christianity also isn’t? Authenticity.

What the heck is Authenticity anyway?

Search me.

I’ve been messing around with this word in my head for a long time, pretty much ever since I stepped into the Christian college scene. “Authenticity” gets thrown around a lot in these circles. Authentic Christianity, authentic worship…you name it.

And looking around on a college campus like this, you’d probably think you’re seeing a lot of authentic Christians. These are people who lift their hands and fall to their knees in “real,” raw worship. These are people who strum hymns on their guitar while sitting in the grass. These are people who post verses and encouraging words on their Instagram photos –

Hey, wait a second. That’s not authenticity.

I just Googled the word “authentic,” and the computer bots gave me this answer:

“Of undisputed origin; genuine.”

Do all Christians come from the “undisputed origin” of Christ? I’d wager a yes.

Are all Christians authentic? …it depends.

I think that in Western Christianity, we have a great need to hide ourselves. And sometimes the place we hide is not in the shadow of our Savior’s wings. I’m talking about me too, here. I think sometimes we’re afraid of disruptive love and truth, so we hide further in our darkness while putting on a masquerade of light.

We say that we’ll pray for someone, but our prayers remain selfish.

We search for answers, but we don’t search for them in Scripture.

We pray that our bad habits will be replaced, but we make no effort to replace them.

Because we don’t want our lives to be disrupted.

C.S. Lewis had a lot to say about nice people. Nice people are nice all on their own, it seems. They’re not super amazing people or super “bad” people. They’re just…nice. There are a lot of just “nice” people in the world. And, unfortunately, those “nice” people don’t feel the need for that disruptive love that is offered to them, whether they realize it or not.

A lot of us are “nice.” Nice people with hearts full of tar.

We’re all “dirty Christians.” There’s a reason John Calvin called it “total depravity.”

I think our problem is we think we can get by on our own merits. No surprise there – that’s been a constant struggle for religious folks since the Pharisees. Everyone wants to look good to other people, right? So we try to be especially spiritual. We talk about Jesus with authority even though we haven’t cracked open our Bibles in months, we lift our hands in praise when our hearts are from it, we hide the muck of our souls from people by using the fake gild of Authenticity.

I said it.

Authenticity is a disguise.

For every Christian.

An authentic Christian is one who knows he’s addicted to alcohol and needs help. An authentic Christian is one who opens her Bible every day, not in public, but in her living room at 5:30am with a cup of coffee. An authentic Christian is one who knows he sins daily, hourly – but clings to the healing and disruptive love of God.

An authentic Christian is one who invites the love of God to disrupt every corner of his soul.

I’ll be honest with you, friends. I’m not there yet either. If anything, this entire post is me calling myself out. There are corners of my heart that I don’t want anyone to see – not even my Savior. Most days, I don’t love Jesus as much as I should. I sail by on my own merits, existing as a “nice” person.

So here’s my punchline: What is authenticity? It’s vulnerability. It’s bearing your soul fully and completely. It’s that whole-hearted knowledge that you 100% can’t do it on your own. That the only true shelter you will find is in the shadow of His wings.

No amount of hand-raising, hymn-humming, Hebrew-tattooing, or Bible-memorizing will make us anymore authentic. Our authenticity comes from our wholehearted identity in Christ.

Only then will we be seen as branches of the true Vine.

 

 

Falling in Love With Marriage.

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A week and a half ago, I came across this on my Facebook newsfeed. I almost thought about sharing it after only reading the title – “You don’t have to get married to be happy.” I thought, “Yes! I’ve written almost the same thing in other blog posts of mine! Christians understand that marriage isn’t a varsity sport that every Christian has to reach in order to achieve the pinnacle of the Christian life!”

A few days ago, I decided to actually read the article. (Confession time: I often only read the titles of things and the first few sentences…I mean, who has time to sit down and read a full Atlantic article? Those things are like novellas.) I read it, and I was still satisfied. This guy was very honest and real about the Christian single life. Nothing I haven’t heard before. You can’t rely on a spouse to fulfill you because that’s impossible for humans to do. Heartbreak happens as a result. A song from the great band Jimmy Eat World says, “If I don’t lean on you, I fall.” Well, sometimes, you lean too much and you both fall over. Which is why you need to lean on the Rock. (Not Dwayne. You know Who I’m talking about. I’m just using a lot of Christian-ese.)

 

The gentleman who wrote the article is now married, so he’s seeing it from the other side. And he did a great job outlining our human yearnings and our absolute need for the love of Christ. But…haven’t we heard all this before?

That’s what some people in the comments section of that post were saying. I scrolled through the comments for a bit to see if there were any that stuck out (if it were not from a Christian website, I probably would have found some more colorful ones). None really did specifically, but a lot of them said something very similar, which I already mentioned.

Haven’t we heard this before?

It can seem like kind of a cop-out for the people who have waited years for a spouse to come into their lives.

“Oh, you just need to love Jesus more first. You can’t rely on someone else to do that for you.”

“Marriage isn’t really that great. Jesus is better!”

“Just pray about it!”

And the unmarried person, who might have that deep longing for companionship, will say, “Yeah, but…” And that’s totally okay. I remember sitting in a restaurant with my parents once, sobbing inconsolably, and just saying between tears, “I’m lonely.” That’s okay. God created Eve for a reason. Because it’s not good for man to be alone.

I decided to gauge the reactions of some of my friends as well. I talked to a couple who didn’t read the article in full, but understood the gist of it. One of my friends is vehemently single, and the other is in a relationship with my roommate, so you can imagine their opinions might differ.

“If you’re an unhappy person, getting married won’t change that. It can enhance your happiness, but it can’t change it.” That’s how my single friend put it. “I think Christians treat singleness as a plan B.”

My roommate’s boyfriend had something very interesting to say about it. “If you’re losing trust in God because you’re obsessed with finding a partner, and you start making deals with God, you have much deeper problems,” he said. “You just have to say, ‘okay, I don’t know why you’ve put this desire in my heart, but help me deal with it.”

As human beings, we have a fundamental need for companionship. I’m an introvert, but I yearn for the companionship of my friends. If I come home and none of my roommates are there, I get a sinking feeling that only goes away when I hear a key turning in the door. Since we were created, we were innately programmed to want people in our lives. 

If you’ve ever watched The Twilight Zone, the premiere episode features a man who wakes up in a deserted town. There’s literally no one there. He walks into a drugstore, he steps inside a phone booth to call someone – nothing. In the course of the twenty-minute episode, he goes all but crazy. (Then the twist happens, which I won’t tell you about in case you want to watch it.) That man had everything he needed: food, clothes, a car, everything – but no people. And that drove him nuts.

People need people. And that’s okay. And marriage is one of the ways we manifest our need for companionship (there’s also the whole “be fruitful and increase” thing, but your parents can talk to you about that one.) Marriage isn’t just any relationship. You’re not just roommates who will separate once the lease is up. You’re not just best friends who meet up for coffee every Saturday afternoon. You’ve made the vow to spend every day with each other for the rest of your life, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, through bankruptcy and stomach flu and love handles and hospital bills.

I think the writer of that post got it right – marriage isn’t the ultimate fulfillment, and many Christians have decided to devote their life to Christ instead of marrying (there’s this guy named Paul who did that a long time ago.) And that takes a lot of discipline in a world that’s saturated with love and romance. People might look sideways at you if you take a vow of singleness (and celibacy, in this day and age), but it’s possible to be happy without a lifelong partner.

But I want to address something that the writer didn’t quite address in his post, and that’s idealization. Are we just more in love with the idea of marrying than with the actual person? If you’ve ever read or seen the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder (if you went to American high school you probably did) one of the characters notes that people like to “make sure the knot is tied in a mighty public way.” And holy crap is that an understatement. People spend thousands of dollars and sometimes more for one day of their life to be “perfect,” sometimes not taking into account that there’s still fifty more years or so to go with the person they’re sharing it with.

Seeing all of those beautiful “fairytale” moments (they’re called weddings, in case I wasn’t clear) can make you kind of…want it, right? I’m not gonna lie, I would love a beautiful, romantic wedding. I cannot confirm or deny that I have pinned (multiple) wedding dresses and themes on Pinterest, without having any idea of when this special day is going to be. Raise your hand if you played wedding when you were little. Yeah. That’s what I thought.

Stock photos don’t help, either. This is what I found when I typed “love” into a stock photo search:

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Look at how happy and comfortable they are in that very awkward position!

And this is what I found when I searched “single” at the same site:

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I can hear your heart breaking through the screen.

Love and marriage is an ideal. It’s been instilled in us from a number of sources: tradition, stock photos, 80s slow-jam love ballads – but wherever the source, it’s undeniably there. And the main problem is we think it’s going to be perfect. We think it will be exactly what Johnny Cash said it was, “This morning, with her, drinking coffee.” How does your heart not melt when you hear that, how can you not yearn for that picture he’s painted? Of course it’s good, but it’s not like that every single day. And if we go into marriage thinking it will be perfect, that’s a bit of a tall order, isn’t it?

I think a lot of single people (including me) make out what we think marriage will be for us. And usually, we’re not right. It’s like what happens any other time you picture how something is going to play out – it usually doesn’t happen exactly the way you hoped. At sophomore homecoming, I was absolutely certain I would spend the evening slow dancing with my crush. Instead, I didn’t even see my crush at all, and stood in a hot room full of grinding adolescents for two hours wondering what the heck to do. Way less than perfect. Marriage is a little bit more serious than teenage musings, but you get my point.

And remember that it’s just as easy to idealize people as it is to idealize marriage. And if you end up marrying that person, it can lead you down a very messy road.

“Audrey, you’re being just like that guy. This isn’t anything we haven’t heard yet.” You might be thinking this. And maybe you’re right. Marriage is a topic that Christians like to mull over often. If we didn’t, there wouldn’t be singles groups at church that were basically free eHarmony sessions.

But maybe what I’m trying to say is, marriage isn’t easy, but neither is being single. Especially a single Christian who really isn’t sure if marriage is in the cards for them, no matter how many people tell them it is or it should be. Single Christians go to Christian colleges where it seems like everyone gets married after their sophomore year. Single Christians get pelted with advice on finding a good Christian man or woman. Single Christians have to deal with the tension and occasional social awkwardness of being a virgin at twenty-five, or even older. Or the guilt of being a single Christian and not being a virgin. Sometimes all of those urges together make us desperate. We’ll all but throw ourselves to the next Christian guy or girl who comes our way, because everyone is saying it’s the right thing to do. Because you need to put “happily married” on your Christian resume, or else your faith stands for nothing.

So I guess I want you to leave you with this, if you’re a single Christian and feel guilty for wanting someone: don’t feel guilty. If you have a yearning for a spouse, that is a beautiful yearning. It’s a fundamentally human yearning. Don’t think that just because you want a partner, it means that you don’t want God enough.

But I would encourage you to let God in on your yearnings. Don’t hide them from Him. “God, I want a husband.” “God, I want a wife.” “I want to know intimacy with another human being.” “I want to live my life with a companion.” These prayers are 100% valid, even if they seem strange. God wants in on your yearnings. If you let Him in now, He’ll guide you in the future.

I’ll also leave you with this, which is probably something you already know, and quite possibly a thought you’re afraid of: I can’t promise you that God will answer that prayer the way you want him to. My prayer for you is that God gives you the strength to accept that answer.

Because the choice to be content with being alone is one of the bravest things you’ll ever do.

Not Good Enough?

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I can taste the salt in my mouth if I think about it hard enough. You know that feeling your face gets when you cry? It feels kind of full of everything – snot, tears, emotions. Your face just kind of turns into a big mess and there’s no way of hiding it. You just have to know that people know you’ve been crying, no matter what you tell them. “Oh, I just decided to wash my makeup off for the day.” Likely story. Nope. Your face is full of emotions. It’s written all over your…face.

You know that feeling your chest gets when you cry? It gets smaller, but your lungs stay the same size. All your breath is squeezed out of you until you’re all but hyperventilating. You start choking on your own sobs, if it gets that bad. (Trust me, I’ve had experience) The best place to cry is in bed, so no one sees you. It’s just you and your emotions staring you in the face. That’s when you’re most vulnerable to them, when all the lights are turned off and it’s quiet and you’re alone.

When was the last time you had a good cry? And what was it about?

I can remember a very specific time that I cried. Really hard. It was last spring, and I’d just gotten back from an event on campus. I was in the shower (another good place to cry) thinking about what had happened that night. It was a dance, so I had watched a lot of dancing happen. I asked my friend to ask a guy to dance with me (that’s the way I am.) He did, but then left immediately afterwards. As I thought about the night and the couples and the dancing, I lost it. Even in that crowd of people, I’d felt alone.

What am I doing wrong? Am I not enough? 

A few nights ago, I was laying in bed feeling totally numb. (Remember, those emotional times happen when you’re quiet and vulnerable, like in the shower or falling asleep.) I’d given up on feeling. I was bitter and I didn’t know why. I still really don’t know why. I cried again, but this time the tears were hot and I was angry. 

I think it was because I was tired of feeling like I wasn’t enough.

We all know people who seem like they’re “enough.” They’re the people we follow on Instagram who don’t follow us back. The people who post cute pictures of themselves with their friends and a neat cliche caption underneath. Who seem so strong in their faith by the way they worship onstage at church or in the pews. The people who make life seem so easy. I’m pretty sure you know who I’m talking about. I’m sure you’re picturing them in your head right now.

For some reason, this quote from The Great Gatsby popped into my head. (Wow, so original. A young adult woman quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald.) It goes like this. If you went to high school, you’ve seen this quote before:

They were careless people…they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their…vast carelessness…and let other people clean up the mess that they had made.

This quote is talking about two rich people who run away from responsibility (like murder, which is not what we’re dealing with here) but I think it can apply to people you think are “enough.” The thing is, those people who seem like they’re “enough” aren’t. They’re just as messy as you are, but they run away from it. They hide it behind a smile, a sheen of fake joy, a Facebook status (FYI, Facebook is an easy platform to run away from things on, for a number of reasons.)

Maybe the reason I was crying a week ago was because I was done with trying to be fake. It’s exhausting. Sometimes it’s hard to determine the real from the fake in people. I feel bad for people who are trying so hard to be “authentic” but all the while are as fake as store-brand Coke. And pandering to fake people is like buying the fake stuff when real Coke is right there on the shelf.

There have been a lot of times in my life when I’ve tried to be as “enough” as these people seem to be. I’ve done really stupid things that the real Audrey wouldn’t do. I turned into a social chameleon, blending in whenever it was convenient. I admit that sometimes I become that chameleon again. Because I’m not enough.

I don’t have to be.

I’m a good writer, but I’m not a great writer. I don’t have enough money to get my own website with cool pictures and put all of my work on it – but if I had that, maybe then I’d be enough.

I’m pretty good at taking pictures, but I’m not great at it. My Instagram is full of pictures of trees and ironic selfies, usually with fewer than ten hashtags (I have standards.) I don’t have a DSLR camera, I don’t have a VSCO account, I don’t even go on cute little photoshoots with my friends. I don’t have 1,000 followers. I probably average 15 likes per picture, which to me is mind-blowing…until I see an “enough” person with 180 likes on theirs. If I had that, maybe then I’d be enough. 

I’m a good singer, but I’m not a great singer. I don’t have awesome equipment or a SoundCloud account or even the confidence to record myself. And when I do record myself, it’s full of mistakes and awkward pauses because that’s who I am as a person. I know two chords on my guitar. I can’t just sit at a piano and jam with my friends or spontaneously worship like “enough” people do. But if I could, maybe then I’d be enough. 

Maybe then. 

But do I really want to live a life of maybes? Of course not. If I did, I’d never accomplish anything. Sometimes I think I rely on that word too much. Maybe I will. Maybe someday I’ll actually be enough. “Maybe” equals waiting, and it’s foolish to live a life spent waiting.

The thing is, I never will be. Ever. No one will ever be enough. There will always be an unattainable standard, whether it’s one you’ve set for yourself or one you think others have for you. It hurts to feel like you’re not enough. It causes those choking sobs.

I’m going to bring out our good friend, the Bible, to help you understand what it means to be “not enough.” You probably understand already, because you’ve felt it, but I’ll put it in words (a seamless segway from Fitzgerald to Scripture):

But he said to me: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:9, ESV) 

Audrey, I’ve heard this before. Blah blah blah Jesus is enough for you. But it doesn’t feel like it, does it? It’s not supposed to. Because Paul was asking God to take his weakness away. God wasn’t gonna. They were going to stay put for Paul to wrestle with. And that is a blessing.

Our weakness, our pain is a blessing. Someone once said, “There’s nothing memorable about a good night’s sleep.” Or something like that. We remember painful, draining times because they taught us something. Our “not-enough”-ness can teach us something. It taught me that fake people exist, and they need help more than anyone else, even if they look like they have it all together. Don’t lie about your “not-enough”-ness. Wear it proudly on your sleeve. I’m a human. I’m broken. I’m hurting.

But I’m learning and I’m growing.

One last literary quote for you. I recently watched the film version of The Little Prince (I’m not crying, you’re crying) and this specific quote spoke to me:

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Your struggles are mostly invisible to those around you, but they’re essential. Your unseen “not-enough”-ness is essential. It’s essential so that the love of Christ can be made perfect in your weakness. He is planning unseen, essential things within you every day. And sometimes those things aren’t so clear. They may not be clear in this world.

Pain is essential. Emptiness is essential.

It’s true – you’re not enough. But you’re essential. Boast it so everyone knows. Because they won’t see your mess – they will see rightly.