I would weave fingers through the playground’s chain-link fence and clench tightly, hoping against hope that this time would be different. But it always turned out the same.
This was the most humiliating moment of every recess — waiting as team captains picked the superstars first, then the agile girls, and the brute boys, down the line until they reached the scrawny kid leaning into the fence.
I was everyone’s last choice. But I played anyhow.
In high school basketball, I was last on the bench. But I tried anyhow.
In Little League softball, I was exiled to right field, where I’d have the fewest opportunities to mess up the game. But I suited up all the same.
My dresser drawer in my childhood home is still filled with the colors of Not-Good-Enough: yellow and pink and green ribbons for crossing the finish line dead last.
But I still played. I still ran.
“Don’t worry about who’s beating you,” my Dad would tell me before high-school track meets. “Just work on improving your personal best.”
I’ve never been a superstar anything. There’s always been a better athlete, a better writer, a better farmer’s wife who could actually help her husband when the field-work piles up.
And at night, when I’ve fallen short of good intentions in mothering, I hang my head and mutter: “If only I were a better mother.”
Not-Good-Enough can shackle. It can keep a perfectionist sidelined and finger-locked to a chain-link fence. If I can’t do it perfectly, then I won’t try at all.
But in the midst of my own “I-can’t,” I am learning the art of “Oh, yes He can.”
Thirty years ago, I was the last kid picked for recess kickball.
Twenty years ago, I was a high school track failure.
Ten years ago, I stopped trying.
Eighteen months ago, I was hobbling on crutches.
Six months ago, I couldn’t have run to the end of my country lane if I tried.
Four weeks ago, I was nursing a muscle injury.
But Saturday? I ran 10 miles.
And in two weeks, I’m running a half-marathon with no hope of finishing first, or even finishing pretty, but finishing all the same — right in the middle of my mediocrity.
I am daily finding an extraordinary God at work in ordinary me.
I can do this. Because He is the God of can-do, who cancels every I-can’t.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
— Philippians 4:13
On Saturday, after my exhausting and exhilarating 10-mile run, I found a giant cookie on the passenger seat of my van, left there by my friend Pat. The cookie was in a plastic bag with the words: “Jennifer, With you all the way. God’s Blessings.”
When I got home, Anna and I posed for a picture while Lydia snapped this shot.
“Let’s count the M&Ms,” Anna said.
So we went inside, opened the bag, and behold: Pat had decorated the cookie with a Y. For she knows that Yahweh is my strength.
I am running again after recovering from an injury that had sidelined me for a month.
I’ve been sidelined in life, too — by perfectionism and self-doubting and the curse of Not-Good-Enough. How about you? Have you been sidelined, too? How is Yahweh strengthening you today, reminding you that you CAN?
Chain-link photo from stock.xchng.