This morning at church our pastor talked about Saul’s conversion to Christianity as it was described in Acts. He mentioned the relief that Saul must have felt when Christ showed himself so clearly, because now he could stop trying to live the good life and measure up. In other parts of the New Testament Paul writes himself about the extent of his piety as a Jew. In Philippians 3, Paul lists his credentials: he is circumcised, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a man thoroughly versed in the scriptures, zealous, righteous, blameless…and yet he suffers deeply because his strivings towards perfection only point to his inability to be good enough; to win God’s grace, to earn His love. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul exclaims, “What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death…”

Our pastor went on to say that, “In Christ Saul received the freedom from the frustration and despair of trying to be good enough…”

As is almost inevitable these days, my thoughts took his words and wondered to the topic of my failed marriage. I could see myself in Saul. I too had labored long and hard to get the right credentials. I prayed and I forgave and I put forth tremendous effort to DO everything to make the marriage work. Time and time again, I did the right thing. My actions were praiseworthy from every point of view.. And yet, I was wretched. And no closer to causing myself to be joyful, and no closer to saving the marriage.

During all of our years together, I did not feel like I had the freedom to give up. The freedom to fail.

I remembered a conversation I had with my youth pastor many years earlier. I asked him what he thought about the idea mentioned by many non-Christians that we believers use God as our crutch. He responded merrily, “Well, they’re wrong. We don’t use God as a crutch – He’s more like a stretcher.”

The beautiful thing about salvation is this: once you realize that you can’t be good enough, that it’s not at all ABOUT being good enough, you’re free. And God offers himself as the stretcher equally to those that seem almost perfect, and to those that are FAR from good enough. I thought about that, and about weakness, mine, and strength – his. Another conversation came to mind, one with a close friend that I had a few months ago. A non-believer, he told me that I have to let weakness consume me. That my future, my hope – was in my weakness. I wondered if he intended to mean then what I now understood that phrase meant.

And I made a decision today at church: I am SO over trying to be good enough. I am not good enough. And it doesn’t even matter. I’m not going to continue limping, putting on a smile and pretending I have this under control. I’m kind of tired, actually. Where’s that stretcher?…

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