Last week I was on a clergy retreat and I haven’t blogged in almost a month because honestly, I have very much enjoyed my Lenten practice. I kind of like the all black- it fit my mood for Lent and honestly not wearing makeup, fixing my hair or spending the time to pick out my jewelry has saved me a lot of time! But what I didn’t realize until last week was that all during Lent I had been surrounded by people who already knew me, knew my personality and creative spirit.
Until last week… I went to a retreat called CREDO which in Greek means “I believe”. It is a clergy retreat created by the Episcopal church that the Presbyterians copied (with their permission). It is by random selection (through the Holy Spirit) the people who are invited and brought together.
We received a sheet of all who were to arrive and as I looked through the names I saw one familiar name, a woman I went to seminary with, who I haven’t seen since graduation day. I was nervous. I am a skeptic of new things and new people. It’s a weakness, I wish I could see things as adventures, but not so much.
Here’s a deal, when a bunch of clergy get together there tends to be a “bitch fest” of our lives, our congregations, our denomination, etc. and there was some of that, but this week was amazing.
In all honesty there was something I was worried about that I felt a little shame about. I didn’t know anyone, save one. How were the cool people going to know I was cool? How was I to exert my awesomeness when I was in all black, no makeup, no jewelry, no fixing my hair, etc.? (I know, I know, I’m self-absorbed).
The first night I hung with Jan (seminary buddy who is super awesome) but slowly as I was having conversations with people around the breakfast, lunch, and dinner tables something started happening. The people who will be kindred spirits, we found each other anyway because…
I am enough.
I don’t need the jewelry, or the clothes, or the hair a certain way. I am enough. I honestly didn’t expect this out of this Lenten practice! It was started to see where our expression and creative energy would go if we didn’t have clothes, etc to do it. I never expected a profound moment of self discovery- surrounded by strangers who became beloved brothers and sisters by the end of the week. I never expected that God could do something THIS amazing out of this practice. Through my Lenten practice through the gift that was this past week God whispered in my ear and because I was stripped away, I heard loud and clear. “You are enough.”
“I am enough/You are enough” is something we say to each other, but I never believed it. When I’m having a spiritual crisis I struggle about being enough for God, in my work I worry about being enough for my staff and congregation, at home I worry about being enough for my family. I am always striving to be better, and I was taught this is what we are supposed to do, and I still, even as I write this, I am thinking “and that is a good goal!”
But at what point do we step back and say that striving for better is a never-ending process, that maybe we should stop striving for better and start being enough. Being enough doesn’t imply that you’re done, accomplished all spiritual, mental, and physical growth. Being enough is about knowing that you are loved and whole where you are and how you are in this moment. And by the grace of God, you will grow and change, and then by the grace of God you will still be enough, always and forever be enough, just as you are, fearfully and wonderfully made (psalm 139).
I think the best reflection of this Lenten journey will be after Easter when I go back to “normal” but for now at least this lesson, much like myself, is enough.